Burst Spinal Cord Stimulation In The Management Of Chronic Pain: Current Perspectives

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Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Over the last several decades, opioid diversion, misuse, and over-prescription have run rampant in the United States. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been FDA approved for treatment for a primary indication of neuropathic limb pain that is resistant to more conservative medical therapy. The disorders qualified for treatment include neuropathic, post-surgical, post-amputation, osteodegenerative, and pain related to vascular disease. Some of the most frequently cited conditions for treatment of SCS include failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) Type I and Type II, and post-herpetic neuralgias. Developments in SCS systems have led to the differentiation between the delivered electromechanical waveform patterns, including tonic, burst, and high-frequency. Burst SCS mitigates traditional paresthesia due to expedited action potential and offers improved pain relief. Burst SCS has been shown in available studies to be non-inferior to the traditional SCS, which can cause pain paresthesia in patients who already have chronic pain. Burst SCS does not seem to cause or need the paresthesia seen in traditional SCS, making SCS not tolerable to patients. Moreover, some studies suggest that burst SCS may decrease opioid consumption in patients with chronic pain. This can make burst SCS an extremely useful tool in the battle against chronic pain and the raging opioid epidemic. As of now, more research needs to be performed to further delineate the effectiveness and long-term safety of this device.