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Papers of the Week

2023 Jan

J Hand Surg Glob Online



Upper-Extremity Peripheral Nerve Stimulators.


Stewart CM, Qadri YMJ, Daly CA
J Hand Surg Glob Online. 2023 Jan; 5(1):121-125.
PMID: 36704375.


Chronic pain conditions are some of the most challenging problems upper-extremity surgeons face and often require a multimodal approach including neuromodulation. Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is one of these modalities, delivering electrical stimulation to peripheral axons to modulate the spinal cord and block out nociceptive signals from the extremity. This blockade leads to long-lasting effects in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. Not only does PNS decrease peripheral pain signals but it also decreases the peripheral inflammatory response and assists with central nervous system plasticity for long-term pain control. Although PNS was initially developed in the 1960s, it has been underrepresented in the literature largely due to the advent of spinal cord stimulation and the lack of Food and Drug Administration-approved hardware for PNS. However, for upper-extremity pain, PNS provides notable benefits over spinal cord stimulation devices, as PNS allows for safer, more specific, and often more effective pain control. As clinicians attempt to limit narcotic use, therapies such as PNS have been revisited and are gaining popularity. We present a narrative review of PNS; discuss its mechanism of action, indications, and surgical technique; and provide a summary of the available literature for the upper-extremity surgeon. Peripheral nerve stimulation offers a solution for chronic, debilitating pain recalcitrant to other treatment modalities.