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Controlling Amputation-Related Pain Through Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

For those who had ample time to prepare for their amputation surgery, one of the frequently asked questions is about residual limb and phantom limb pain—what to expect and how to manage it. Today, those who are considering an elective amputation have more pain control options, including peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS).

 Using Peripheral Nerve Stimulation to manage amputation-related pain.

A recent issue of inMotion magazine published an article on the effectivity of PNS. A 53-year-old nurse, Casandra Peterson, was able to prevent both residual limb and phantom limb pain during the first few months after her amputation.

Phantom limb pain afflicts 60%-80% of those who have undergone an amputation. In some cases, this type of pain does not resolve, affecting a person’s mobility and quality of life.

To stem both possibilities, Peterson’s healthcare team at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center presented her with the option of using a new procedure. It involved the implantation of an electrical device that would stimulate nerves to block both residual limb and phantom limb pain. The device was the Sprint PNSTMsystem by SPR Therapeutics.

Several days after amputation, the device was implanted near her nerve under ultrasound guidance. Then, a small plastic box was attached to Peterson’s skin through a pad. This box supplied the electrical current to the lead.

The box is light, and it features controls that could vary the intensity of the electrical stimulus so that the optimal level could be reached. New batteries are supplied by the healthcare team as necessary. While wearing the device, the user can take showers, but cannot swim. However, the device’s complication rate is generally low.

Other types of devices for PNS can be left implanted, but the one by SPR Therapeutics can stay inserted for 60 days, after which it had to be removed. But the good news is that the reduction of pain can continue a couple of months after the device is removed. The electrical signal blocks the transmission of pain signals from the nerve.   

According to the inMotion article, Peterson had a great experience with PNS; however, the results are inconclusive as of this writing. But based on what has already transpired, peripheral nerve stimulation suggests a promising and potentially powerful method of controlling pain related to amputation. Furthermore, although the number of providers that can perform and provide this treatment is currently limited, it is growing rapidly.

What are your thoughts on peripheral nerve stimulation? Would you be willing to try this treatment? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  
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<a href="https://amputeestore.com/blogs/amputee-life/controlling-amputation-related-pain-through-peripheral-nerve-stimulation">Controlling Amputation-Related Pain Through Peripheral Nerve Stimulation</a>

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8 comments


  • Having CIDP (chronic inflammatory demylienating polyneuropathy) I chose to have a spinal stimulator implanted in my back, 1 in lower shoulder and 1 in upper hip area for pain control. This helped a lot for body pain. When I had to have amputation of leg below the knee I never had phantom pain and wondered if this was why. Reading this article, I think it may have. I’m glad to see the medical profession working on new alternatives for pain control.

    Sandra Gibson on

  • I have a lot of peripheral nerve pain, most due to My bk amputation. I also have a pacemaker and My Cardiologist emphatically rejects any type of blocking of electrical pain signals, due to My pacemaker.

    tommy wood on

  • I had my amputation 21 yrs. ago and still getting bad to horrific phantom limb pain. I don’t know if this device would help me. I am over 70 yrs. old so I am concerned if my age & health issues would inhibit me from doing so.
    Thank you.

    Virginia G. on

  • YES, I WOULD LOVE TO TRY THIS TREATMENT!! I HAD MY LEFT LEG BTK AMPUTATION IN 2007, AND HAVE HAD PHANTOM PAIN SINCE. SOMETIMES THE PAIN WOULD FEEL LIKE VERY STRONG ELECTRICAL SHOCKS GOING THROUGH MY LEG, AND AT TIMES IT WOULD BE UNBEARABLE TO TAKE. I WOULD CONVULSE SEVERELY FOR CLOSE TO 30 SECONDS, THEN IT WOULD SUBSIDE, AND 1-2 MINUTES LATER IT WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. SOMETIMES IT WOULD LAST A WEEK, AND THEN NOTHING FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS, THEN START ALL OVER AGAIN. I WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE THE COMPANY OF MY WIFE, AS IT WAS VERY DIS- RUPTIVE AND I WOULD BE CLOSE TO TEARS BECAUSE OF THE PAIN.
    SO, YES, I WOULD LOVE TO BE A WILLING PARTICIPANT IN THIS TREATMENT.

    EDWARD P SUROWIEC

    EDWARD SUROWIEC on

  • PNS is not for everyone. I unsuccessfully tried it. I was not told until right before the procedure that the six week trial period required a temporary device which prevents bathing or swimming. Since swimming is a major part of my exercise, this was a major disappointment at the last minute. The temporary device is not well thought out as it attaches to the outside of the body by adhesive which is constantly becoming unadhered. And while I am glad some people get relief, I got the most relief after the device was removed. It is important that there be a full explanation of the device and its use before opting to have it implanted.

    DOUGLAS on


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