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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 68  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 218--223

Finding Optimal Neuromodulation for Chronic Pain: Waves, Bursts, and Beyond

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University
2 Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manish Ranjan
Department of Neurosurgery, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, 33 Medical Center Drive, Morgantown, WV - 26505

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.302465

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Background: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has emerged as state-of-the-art evidence-based treatment for chronic intractable pain related to spinal and peripheral nerve disorders. Traditionally delivered as steady-state, paraesthesia-producing electrical stimulation, newer technology has augmented the SCS option and outcome in the last decade. Objective: To present an overview of the traditional and newer SCS waveforms. Materials and Methods: We present a short literature review of SCS waveforms in reference to newer waveforms and describing paraesthesia-free, high frequency, and burst stimulation methods as well as advances in waveform paradigms and programming modalities. Pertinent literature was reviewed, especially in the context of evolution in the waveforms of SCS and stimulation parameters. Results: Conventional tonic SCS remains one of the most utilized and clinically validated SCS waveforms. Newer waveforms such as burst stimulation, high-frequency stimulation, and the sub-perception SCS have emerged in the last decades with favorable results with no or minimal paraesthesia, including in cases otherwise intractable to conventional tonic SCS. The recent evolution and experience of closed-loop SCS is promising and appealing. The experience and validation of the newer SCS waveforms, however, remain limited but optimistic. Conclusions: Advances in SCS device technology and waveforms have improved patient outcomes, leading to its increased utilization of SCS for chronic pain. These improvements and the development of closed-loop SCS have been increasingly promising development and foster a clinical translation of improved pain relief as the years of research and clinical study beyond conventional SCS waveform come to fruition.


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