Nearly one out of five people in Europe suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months or more. This type of pain can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and sometimes it never goes away. The condition can be caused by nerve damage resulting from trauma or common surgical procedures. The effects of chronic pain can limit daily activities, including work, family, and social life.
It often takes patients a long time to be diagnosed with chronic pain as awareness about the disease is still low.
For people suffering from chronic pain, the goal of treatment is to reduce the level of pain and improve mobility, so that the person can resume their daily routine.
Different therapies and treatments like pain medication, nerve blocks, radiofrequency therapy and neurostimulation are available to reduce the effects of chronic pain.
Neuromodulation is one option that has been available for decades and has helped more than 300.000 patients find pain relief worldwide.
Neuromodulation works by delivering a small amount of electrical energy (stimulation) in order to mask or interrupt your bodys natural pain signals. This electrical stimulation may cause a feeling of tingling (paraesthesia), which will typically cover the pain area. As chronic pain can present in different ways, there are various neuromodulation systems available to best address your pain needs.
A temporary neurostimulation system allows you and your doctor to determine the effectiveness of stimulation for your pain before undergoing a permanent implant. You will be fitted with a temporary or trial device that works like an implanted system but can be easily removed. It is important to talk with your doctor about what is involved in receiving a temporary system.
During the trial evaluation, only the leads are placed in your body. The leads are connected to an external pulse generator (outside of your body) that you can use to provide stimulation and change the intensity. The external pulse generator does not usually show under your clothes.
During the evaluation period, you will be able to assess how well the system manages your pain generally and, if instructed by your doctor, during various activities. After the evaluation, you and your doctor will discuss your experience and whether or not you should get an implanted system.
Traditional tonic stimulation uses equally spaced electrical pulses to replace pain with a tingling sensation called paraesthesia. For some patients, the stimulation sensation can fluctuate with changes in body position and paraesthesia may become uncomfortable.
BurstDR™ stimulation is designed for larger or more widespread areas of pain and works differently, by offering intermittent “bursts” of stimulation, designed to mimic the human body’s natural nerve signaling system. In addition, BurstDR stimulation has been shown to significantly reduce or eliminate paraesthesia.
Learn about Marie’s experience with BurstDR stimulation.
Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation is a new therapy option designed to treat more focal ( localised) pain. DRG stimulation works differently from traditional SCS by targeting nerves within the DRG, a cluster of nerve cells in the spine that directly target the area of the body where your pain occurs. Traditional SCS takes a different approach, targeting nerves along the spinal cord’s dorsal column, this provides stimulation for more widespread areas of pain.
Stimulation targeting the DRG has been shown to be effective in treating conditions that are difficult to treat with traditional SCS, such as chronic pain in the leg, foot, hand, knee and groin. Research has also shown DRG stimulation can benefit patients suffering chronic post-surgical pain and neuropathic pain.
Learn about Nele’s experience with DRG stimulation.
Burning Nights CRPS Support is a UK charity raising awareness & supporting all those affected by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS (formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD) is considered to be a multi-system syndrome or condition that is mainly characterised by chronic pain that usually begins in one area of the body. CRPS can affect any part of the body and usually it will begin in one particular area but can then spread further.
Your doctor may already know of specialised pain clinics in the area, but it may also be helpful for you to provide a list of possible treatment centres.
Are you already attending a Pain Clinic?
Discussing your chronic pain with your doctor can be an important step in finding relief. Be sure to bring your results of the Chronic Pain Questionnaire, as well as information on the various treatment options in order to get the most from your consultation.