Pain Management

Peripheral Nerve and Spinal Cord Stimulation

If your migraines or pain in your back, arms, or legs aren’t responding to medicine or injections, we may consider electrical stimulation. In this approach, we insert an electrical device with leads connecting to the affected areas. Then we can send electrical pulses to where you are feeling pain. These electrical pulses do not get rid of the source of the pain, but rather replace it with a tingling feeling that many people prefer to pain. These minimally invasive procedures are often very effective for pain and are fully reversible.

At the Mount Sinai Pain Management practice, we offer two types of electrical stimulation:

  • Peripheral nerve stimulation focuses on nerves outside the spinal cord or brain. It helps with head or chest pain, post-thoracotomy or post-video assisted thoracoscopy pain syndromes, complex regional pain syndromes (such as reflex sympathy dystrophy and causalgia), and post-herpetic neuralgia (chronic pain after shingles), as well as other neuralgias and painful conditions.
  • Spinal cord stimulation is useful for pain in the back, arms, and legs. We often use it to help with failed back surgery syndrome (post-laminectomy syndrome), which can develop after spine surgery, and with complex regional pain syndrome, which happens when your body doesn’t heal properly after an injury. We also use spinal cord stimulation for other types of pain, including pain after chest surgery (post-thoracotomy syndrome), and headaches (occipital neuralgia).

The Process

First, we test to make sure electrical stimulation works well for you. We place small trial electrodes next to your spine. We also place a small device that delivers electrical pulses through the electrodes. We can program the electronic device to send the electrical energy in a pattern that works for your pain.

If the test helps your pain, we will remove the trial leads and replace them with more permanent ones. We work with experienced surgeons to assure that the permanent procedure is performed at the highest possible standard.