New Therapy May Offer Long-Term Back, Leg Pain Relief

New Therapy May Offer Long-Term Back, Leg Pain Relief
New Therapy May Offer Long-Term Back, Leg Pain Relief

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.

At three months, 84.5% of back pain and 83.1% of leg pain patients in the HF10 therapy group experienced a 50% reduction in pain or greater. In the traditional SCS group, 43.8% of back pain and 55.5% of leg pain patients experienced a 50% reduction in pain. None of the patients in the HF10 therapy group experienced paresthesia. The superiority of HF10 therapy vs. traditional SCS was sustained through the 12-month study period. More patients in the HF10 therapy group reported being “very satisfied” with their pain relief (55% vs 32%). 

“This is the first long-term study to compare the safety and effectiveness of high frequency and traditional SCS therapy for back and leg pain,” said Leonardo Kapural, MD, lead study author and professor of anesthesiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and clinical director at Carolinas Pain Institute at Brookstown in Winston-Salem, NC. “Chronic back and leg pain have long been considered difficult to treat and current pain relief options such as opioids have limited effectiveness and commonly known side effects. Given the prevalence of chronic pain, high frequency SCS is an exciting advance for our patients.”

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