Neurostimulation uses electricity to block pain messages before they reach the brain.


Neurostimulation, also known as neuromodulation, is an interventional pain management treatment that uses electrical pulses to block nerve impulses that cause pain. Depending on the type of neurostimulation, the electricity is delivered directly to the spinal cord or to another area of the body. Neuromodulation therapy may help to reduce dependence on oral pain medications.

Types of neurostimulation

There are three main types of neuromodulation, all of which feature a permanent pulse generator that is implanted under the skin. The specific type of neurostimulation is determined by what region of the body the electrical pulses target:

  1. Spinal cord stimulation: In this type of neurostimulation, the neurostimulator device delivers electrical pulses to specific nerves in the spinal cord that are causing pain.
  2. Peripheral nerve stimulation: In this type of neurostimulation, the neurostimulator device delivers electrical pulses to a specific peripheral nerve – one of the major nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body – that is causing pain.
  3. Peripheral field stimulation:
  4. In this type of neurostimulation, the neurostimulator device delivers electrical pulses to small peripheral nerve fibers located beneath the skin. Peripheral field stimulation targets the actual region that is in pain – not the major nerve that supplies the region.

Conditions treated by neurostimulation

  • Neuromodulation is used in the treatment of several pain conditions, including:
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Chronic low back pain that does not respond to other therapies
  • Chronic arm and leg pain
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage and pain), including diabetic neuropathy
  • Chronic headaches
  • Occipital neuralgia (a condition that can cause severe headaches)

Your Henry Ford Pain Management specialist will work with you to determine whether a neurostimulation therapy or other interventional pain management treatment is best for your pain condition.

The Henry Ford Pain Center approach

At the Henry Ford Pain Center, pain treatment begins with a thorough medical history and physical exam. All patients are evaluated by board-certified pain medicine physicians, physician assistants and certified nurse practitioners to identify the cause of their pain. Following initial assessment, we work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include interventional pain procedures, medication therapy, physical therapy, massage and other complementary options.

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