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Home » Managing pain » How new neuromodulation implants treat chronic pain

Dr. Andrea Trescot

Chief Medical Officer, Stimwave Technologies

Technological advances are offering patients discreet, targeted, pain relief to help improve their quality of life.

Discreet electrical implants are helping a growing number of patients cope with chronic pain.

The approach, known as neuromodulation, uses a device to deliver electrical impulses to interrupt pain signals to the brain and reduce the feeling of pain.

Two particular approaches are offering drug-free solutions: the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) implanted in a person’s back, sends electrical stimulation to specific spinal locations to treat chronic pain typically associated with the back and legs; while the more recent evolution of the peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS) delivers relief via electrodes on the nerve at the source of pain, below the head, in an arm or leg, for example.

Direct pain relief

PNS offers a more patient-friendly dimension by working directly at the nerve responsible for the pain. Dr Andrea Trescot, Chief Medical Officer at Stimwave Technologies, explained that PNS is delivered through a needle, usually implanted under local anesthetic and powered by an external transmitter.

The patient wears an antenna over the skin which activates the device, avoiding the complexity of internal batteries and extension leads of the traditional SCS approach.

“The implanted, micro-device is passive and only activated when the antenna is placed over it and the transmitter is turned on,” she adds. “There is no maintenance; all that is required is that the patient sees their pain team in the hospital for reprogramming appointments or check-ups.”

“The patient wears the transmitter and antenna when they need it or wish to. This varies by patient and what best fits their lifestyle.”

Quality of life

The wearable antenna and transmitter are removed when showering, or swimming, without interrupting pain relief as there is a gradual “wash in-wash out” to the way the electrical therapy is delivered.

The system is for any nerve area below the head and designed to help give patients freedom from chronic pain, potentially come off strong pain-relief medication and be able to enjoy improved activity, exercise and quality of life.

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