Neuromodulation or ‘stimulator’ implants have been used for a very long time to treat complex, treatment-resistant pain. The procedure involves percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) which targets a few select nerves that connect your brain to the region of your body affected by pain. Using pulsed radio waves, it modulates the nerves' function to prevent pain signals from being transmitted to your brain. PENS may be used for various forms of regional pain, including CRPS, peripheral neuropathy, headaches, or abdominal pain.
PENS may be considered for people who have persistent regional pain that has not responded to lifestyle changes. It is used as part of a multidisciplinary treatment plan and is effective for conditions such as CRPS, allodynia, hyperalgesia, peripheral neuropathy, occipital neuralgia, supra-orbital neuralgia, post-herpetic neuralgia, intractable facial pain, cluster headaches, post-hernia repair pain, post-mastectomy pain, shoulder pain, chest pain, lower limb pain, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, among others.
The beneficial effects of the procedure begin to occur within seven days and reach their full effect within four to six weeks. The effects vary significantly between individuals, with some people experiencing only a few weeks of pain relief, while others achieve six to 18 months of relief. The effects will depend upon your specific pain condition as well as which nerves the procedure targets.
You may experience tenderness and bruising over the site of the needles as well as increased joint pain for several days after the procedure. Less commonly, some people experience increased sensitivity to pain over the procedure area for one to four weeks.