According to a new study, patients who received a novel high frequency form of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy experienced significantly greater, long-term relief for both chronic back and leg pain, when compared to a traditional low frequency form of SCS therapy. Findings were posted online in the journal Anesthesiology.

SCS delivers electric pulses to the spinal cord, through a small device implanted under the skin, for difficult to treat chronic pain in the trunk and limbs. The new treatment, called HF10 therapy, uses proprietary high frequency pulses of 10,000 Hz, compared to traditional SCS which uses frequencies of 40–60 Hz. 

HF10 therapy also provides pain relief without paresthesia – a stimulation-induced sensation commonly perceived as tingling or buzzing, which masks a patient’s perception of pain – typical of traditional SCS. These sensations are often distracting or uncomfortable to patients and limit the utility and acceptance of traditional devices. Identifying a new intervention that does not rely on paresthesia to mask pain is novel to SCS and has the potential to improve pain relief and quality of life for these complex patients.

The study included 171 patients with chronic back or leg pain who were implanted at 10 comprehensive pain treatment centers. Of these, 90 patients received HF10 therapy, while 81 patients had traditional SCS. The primary outcome of the study was 50% or greater pain reduction without stimulation-related neurological deficit.