High-Frequency Stimulation Better for Chronic Back and Leg Pain, Study Says
National Pain Report November 2, 2016
A recent study reported in Neurosurgery demonstrates long-term superior results of high frequency spinal cord stimulation (SCS) versus traditional low-frequency SCS in the treatment of chronic back and leg pain. High-frequency SCS, referred to as “HF10,” is stimulation applied to the spinal cord at a rate of 10 kilohertz in brief intervals. In contrast, conventional SCS therapy involves lower frequency stimulation over longer periods of time. Dr. Leonardo Kapural of the Center for Clinical Research and Carolinas Pain Institute co-authored the study, noting that HF10 “offers lasting reductions in back and leg pain after other treatments have failed.”
Patients with moderate to severe back and leg pain were studied over an extended period of 2 years. Medical histories demonstrating multiple unsuccessful pain treatments was a common factor among participants. Nearly 90% of the 171 patients studied had prior back surgery, and approximately the same proportion of the sample had been taking opioids. The subjects had been treated at 11 different pain clinics in the United States, and were suffering from chronic pain for an average timeframe of 14 years. Participants in the study were randomly divided into two groups: one group was treated with the HF10, the other treated with traditional SCS therapy.
Pain scores at the 90 day mark following treatment resulted in pain decreasing by at least half for 44% of back pain patients and 55% of leg pain patients who received conventional SCS. More than 80% of HF10 patients achieved similar levels of pain relief. At the 2 year mark of follow up, the HF10 success rate remained high with 76% of participants reporting decreased back pain scores and 73% leg pain improvement. For SCS patients, their response rates were lower at 49% for back pain and 49% for leg pain. Overall, HF10 participants averaged a 5-point decrease in back pain score versus the average 3 point reduction experienced by traditional SCS patients, on a 0-to-10 rating scale.