Understanding the Basics of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation and Its Impact on Pain Management

Are you caught in an unending struggle with chronic pain, desperately seeking relief after exhausting every treatment option available?

If this resonates with you, it’s time to explore a groundbreaking solution that has the potential to bring about life-changing results: peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS).

We empathize with your frustration and the weariness of enduring chronic pain. That’s why we are here to shed light on this advanced treatment option, empowering you to make an informed decision about embracing this transformative approach to pain management.

Together, let’s delve into the benefits and considerations of peripheral nerve stimulation, paving the way for you to reclaim your life from the clutches of chronic pain.


Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

What is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS)?

PNS is a medical technique involving electrical stimulation to treat chronic pain and certain neurological conditions.[1] It is a form of neuromodulation that targets the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.

PNS delivers electrical pulses to the peripheral nerves, which helps adjust or interrupt the functioning of specific neural circuits or structures to treat chronic pain.


The Basics of PNS

Whether you’re new to peripheral nerve stimulation or seeking a refresher, we will explore the core principles of PNS, including how it works, the different approaches involved, and the conditions it can address. By unraveling PNS basics, we aim to empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about pain management treatment options.


Group of young people who are free of pain

What is the Goal of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation?

The primary goal of PNS is to provide pain relief for individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. By targeting the peripheral nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals, PNS can help alleviate or reduce pain sensations.[2] This can significantly improve your quality of life by reducing your reliance on medications and enabling you to engage in daily activities more comfortably.

PNS is also used in certain cases to address neurological disorders. By stimulating specific peripheral nerves or neural pathways, PNS can potentially modulate abnormal nerve activity associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and migraines.[3] Ongoing research and clinical trials are exploring the potential benefits of PNS in various other neurological disorders.


Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

How does Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Work?

Peripheral nerve stimulation works by delivering electrical pulses generated by a device called a peripheral nerve stimulation to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.[4]

The PNS consists of one or more electrodes placed near the targeted peripheral nerves. A small generator connects these electrodes, producing electrical pulses. The application of these electrical pulses to the peripheral nerves interferes with the transmission of pain signals.

The electrical stimulation modifies the way the nervous system processes pain signals. It can disrupt the pain messages, block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, or modulate the activity of nerves involved in pain perception.

By adjusting or interrupting the pain signals, PNS can provide pain relief for individuals with chronic pain conditions. It can help reduce pain intensity, frequency, and duration, allowing you to experience improved quality of life and engage in daily activities with greater comfort.


Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Conditions Treated with Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Peripheral nerve stimulation treats various chronic pain conditions and certain neurological disorders. Some of the conditions commonly treated with PNS include: [5]

  • Diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, or nerve injuries
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)
  • Phantom limb pain

In general, PNS can benefit patients who have not responded well to other treatments such as medications, physical therapy, or surgery.


Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Non-Invasive vs. Implanted Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Two primary methods achieve PNS: non-invasive or implanted devices. Both approaches aim to relieve pain by delivering electrical stimulation to the peripheral nerves, but they differ in how the stimulation is applied.


Non-Invasive Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Non-invasive PNS involves external devices, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units.[6] These portable devices can be applied directly to the skin over the affected area. They generate electrical currents that travel through the skin and stimulate the peripheral nerves, relieving pain. Non-invasive PNS is generally considered safe, easy to use, and does not require surgery or implantation of electrodes.


Implanted Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Implanted PNS, on the other hand, involves a surgical procedure to implant a peripheral nerve stimulator device. The device comprises electrodes placed near the targeted peripheral nerves, connecting them to a small generator typically implanted under the skin. The generator actively produces electrical pulses that interfere with pain signals.[7]

Implanted PNS allows for more precise and targeted stimulation of the nerves, as the electrodes are placed closer in proximity to the nerves. Even though it requires a surgical procedure, it can provide longer-term pain relief and greater control over the stimulation settings.

The choice between non-invasive and implanted PNS depends on various factors, including the specific condition being treated, your preferences, and the recommendations of your care provider. Non-invasive PNS is often used as an initial treatment option, while implanted PNS is considered when non-invasive methods have not provided sufficient pain relief.


Healthy pain free woman on beach at sunset

Benefits of PNS for Pain Management

Peripheral nerve stimulation offers several benefits for pain management. Here are some key benefits of PNS:

  • Pain relief for individuals that have not responded well to other treatments
  • Customizable treatment
  • Reduced dependence on medications
  • Improved functionality
  • Long-term pain control
  • Reversible treatment


Side Effects of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Peripheral nerve stimulation is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated treatment option for pain management. However, like any medical procedure, there are potential side effects and considerations to be aware of.

Here are some possible side effects associated with PNS:

  • Discomfort or Irritation: Some people experience discomfort or irritation at the site where the electrodes are placed or the generator is implanted, including tingling, itching, or soreness.
  • Infection or Wound Healing Issues: In the case of implanted PNS, there is a small risk of infection or wound healing complications at the incision site.
  • Movement Limitations: The implanted generator or device may temporarily restrict movements or activities.
  • Device-related Issues: Rarely, there may be device-related complications, such as lead migration, lead breakage, or generator malfunction.
  • Allergic Reactions: While uncommon, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the material used in the implanted device or electrode.

Discussing PNS’s potential risks, benefits, and side effects with your care provider is essential. They can provide personalized information based on your condition and guide you through decision-making.


Healthy woman stretching her back in front of the ocean

Find Relief from Your Back Pain with Sonoran Pain and Spine

Ready to break free from the grip of back pain and reclaim your life?

PNS holds tremendous potential if you are struggling with chronic pain. With its ability to provide effective pain relief, improve functionality, and reduce dependence on medication, PNS offers a new ray of hope for reclaiming a fulfilling life.

At Sonoran Pain and Spine, we focus on identifying the root cause of your pain and providing you with individualized, surgical and non-surgical pain management solutions that will help you get back to enjoying your everyday life.

Take the first step towards a pain-free future by scheduling your appointment today.

Don’t let chronic pain hold you back any longer – discover the transformative potential of peripheral nerve stimulation and embark on your journey toward a life with reduced pain and renewed hope. Your pain-free future awaits.



[1] “Peripheral Nerve Stimulator – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 13 Mar. 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539703/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[2] “Peripheral Nerve Stimulation: A Review of Techniques and Clinical ….” 31 Jul. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8586305/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[3] “Peripherical Electrical Stimulation for Parkinsonian Tremor – PubMed.” 7 Feb. 2022, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35197841/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[4] “Current Innovations in Peripheral Nerve Stimulation – PMC – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158945/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[5] “Implantable Peripheral Nerve Stimulation for Peripheral Neuropathic ….” 17 Oct. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9599770/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[6] “External Noninvasive Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Treatment of ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25308421/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.

[7] “Pain Suppression by Peripheral Nerve Stimulation – Karger Publishers.” 4 May. 2007, https://karger.com/sfn/article/40/2-4/223/333700/Pain-Suppression-by-Peripheral-Nerve. Accessed 10 Jul. 2023.