Peripheral Nerve Stimulation | JPR


Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is turning into a extra frequent therapy modality for sufferers affected by each acute and power ache situations. Moreover, PNS has been utilized to supply substantial analgesia in difficult ache situations together with complicated regional ache syndrome,1 postherpetic neuralgia,2 cranial neuralgias,3 migraines and cluster complications,4 amputee ache,5 again ache,6 and cancer-related ache.7 PNS implants could also be non permanent (60 days) or everlasting.

Most ache administration practices make the most of a complete care workforce mannequin consisting of nurses, APPs (ie, nurse practitioners (NPs) and doctor assistants (PAs)), psychological well being specialists, and physicians. Within the article The Staff Strategy to Spinal Twine and Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation: A Information for the Superior Follow Supplier,8 the authors explored the function of APPs within the use and administration of spinal twine and dorsal root ganglion stimulation. Moreover, the paper explains how APPs are bettering entry for therapy of sufferers affected by power ache.

In Contribution of doctor assistants/associates to secondary care: a scientific evaluation,9 the authors discovered PAs obtain the target of accelerating throughput of sufferers, whereas containing prices and with out adversely affecting outcomes. One other article, Doctor assistants scale back resident workload and enhance care in an instructional surgical setting, discovered the addition of PAs to the surgical workforce resulted in decreased late deliberate discharges, elevated unplanned early discharges with earlier reassessment and/or coordination of care, decreased resident workload and improved resident rotation satisfaction. Particularly, implementation of PAs on a normal surgical procedure service resulted in a big lower in late discharges from 20% to 0.5% and elevated unplanned early discharges from 0.5% to 16%.10 Lastly, Doctor Assistants and Nurse Practitioners in Major Care Plus: A Systematic Overview investigated using a main care plus (specialist care offered within the main care/neighborhood care setting) providers offered by a PA and/or NP. The authors discovered “the standard of care, each on the patient-level and professional-level, seems to be assured with presumably higher entry to healthcare and fewer referrals to the hospital.”11

As PNS has elevated in frequency of use, there was a novel alternative and wish for the next diploma of APP involvement within the care and administration of this affected person inhabitants. Right here, we’ll discover the precise function of APPs in a PNS implanting ache administration observe whereas additionally discussing the findings of an in-depth literature evaluation investigating APP involvement in neuromodulation.


A complete search of a number of databases from every database’s inception to April sixth, 2022, was performed and filtered to seize solely articles within the English language. The databases included Ovid MEDLINE(R), Ovid EMBASE, Ovid Cochrane Central Register of Managed Trials, and Ovid Cochrane Database of Systematic Evaluations. The search technique was designed and performed by an skilled librarian, L.P. Database topic headings supplemented with key phrases have been used to seek for “superior observe suppliers”, “nurse practitioners”, “doctor assistants”, “ache administration”, and “neuromodulation”.


The literature evaluation resulted in 65 articles pertinent to neuromodulation, ache administration and APPs. Of those articles, solely three have been pertinent to the subject of APP involvement in neuromodulation (see Desk 1). Extra particularly, solely one of many three publications on neuromodulation mentioned APP involvement in PNS. This single publication was from 1995 and centered on electrical stimulation of the trigeminal ganglion utilizing a everlasting percutaneously positioned electrode. Within the research, the NP was concerned in following sufferers post-implant to acquire ache ranges and response to therapy. The opposite two research well-describe the significance of APP involvement and the function of the APP in caring for sufferers with implanted intrathecal drug supply units, spinal twine, or dorsal root ganglion stimulators. All three research agree that APPs play a big function within the post-implant follow-up of sufferers with neuromodulation units.

Desk 1 Abstract of Literature Overview8,12,13

Affected person Choice

The primary alternative for APPs to be concerned within the care of PNS sufferers is on the time of applicable affected person choice. In lots of practices, APPs triage ache administration seek the advice of requests and are the primary to evaluation a affected person’s previous medical and surgical historical past, medicines, allergic reactions, and prior imaging. It’s throughout this preliminary step when APPs might acknowledge and establish sufferers with a ache prognosis who might profit from PNS. It’s crucial that the APP is educated on correct indications for PNS (ie, mononeuropathy is preferable quite than polyneuropathy or widespread ache distributions). Within the setting of extra diffuse ache in an extremity, the APP might establish the world that’s most painful and think about providing PNS to focus on as much as two separate nerves that innervate that area. Prognostic threat elements related to outcomes from PNS are missing. Nonetheless, the final neuromodulation literature on dorsal column spinal twine stimulation and dorsal root ganglion spinal twine stimulation highlights potential predictors of poor ache aid together with youthful age, historical past of tobacco use, historical past of substance use dysfunction, psychological well being issues (posttraumatic stress dysfunction, melancholy, nervousness), historical past of litigation or employee’s compensation, and different variables.14–17 Session with a psychiatrist or psychologist is necessary to find out if a affected person has uncontrolled psychological well being or behavioral well being points which will make the affected person a poor candidate for an implanted PNS gadget. Nonetheless, solely having a proper prognosis of a psychological well being or behavioral challenge just isn’t a contraindication to PNS implantation if these situations are adequately handled and optimized.

As soon as an applicable PNS candidate is recognized throughout the triage course of, the APP might be able to present steerage to scheduling employees concerning appointment preparations, equivalent to providing the affected person a session with an APP or implanting doctor, arranging for a diagnostic peripheral nerve block concentrating on the area of the affected person’s ache (if that is commonplace of care within the observe), scheduling a psychological well being evaluation, and offering assets for PNS schooling (eg, schooling session with nursing employees).

Session with APP and Implanting Doctor

On the time of preliminary session with a affected person who’s a possible candidate for PNS implant, the APP performs a main function in acquiring a radical previous medical historical past and outline of the affected person’s ache signs. The APP ought to correctly diagnose and assess the affected person’s neuropathic ache. This begins with consciousness of the neuropathic grading system (ie, potential, possible, or particular neuropathic ache), related standards and obtainable screening devices.18 Screening devices for the prognosis of neuropathic ache embody, however will not be restricted to, the Leeds evaluation of neuropathic signs and indicators (LANSS) Ache Scale,19 the neuropathic ache questionnaire,20 the douleur neuropathique 4 questions (DN4),21 the acheDETECT questionnaire (PD-Q),22 and ID-Ache.23

Through the preliminary seek the advice of, the APP ought to display screen for contraindications for using PNS, which embody coagulopathy, present infections, important behavioral or psychological well being points that aren’t optimized, a failed diagnostic trial, requirement of periodic MRIs, and full sensory loss.24 Most targets for PNS remedy are superficial peripheral nerves and are thought-about low threat for bleeding problems; thus, exceptions could also be made to pursue PNS remedy in sufferers who’re on anticoagulation remedy for low-risk targets, that are in keeping with revealed pointers.25,26 Moreover, failed diagnostic peripheral nerve blockade just isn’t an absolute contraindication to pursuing PNS remedy. On account of each peripheral and central neuromodulation mechanisms, sufferers should still profit from PNS remedy regardless of not attaining ample analgesia from the anesthetic section from diagnostic trial blocks.

Moreover, the APP ought to be capable to establish the precise peripheral nerve targets for potential PNS implant. In additional generalized painful situations, with areas innervated by a number of peripheral nerves, the APP is tasked with figuring out which particular peripheral nerve targets contribute most to the affected person’s ache. Lastly, the APP ought to make sure the affected person has up to date imaging of the peripheral nerve goal space and assess if electrodiagnostic research reveal abnormalities in nerve conduction of the goal peripheral nerve.

The APP might comply with the prompt standards for PNS affected person choice, displayed in Desk 2, which have been revised from the article titled Present Improvements in Peripheral Nerve Stimulation revealed in 2018 by Raghavendra Nayak and Ratan Ok. Banik.24

Desk 2 Steered Standards for Peripheral Nerve Stimulator Affected person Choice

Right here, a suggestion is made so as to add a fifth standards for PNS affected person choice – that of the flexibility to function the gadget distant and navigate gadget charging necessities (if relevant). Often, sufferers with severely arthritic arms or underlying medical situations might not have the dexterity to function these units on their very own with out help from a member of the family or caregiver. Additionally, sufferers have to have a baseline stage of cognition to permit for gadget schooling and optimization, and the flexibility to self-adjust gadget settings primarily based on ache and exercise ranges. Furthermore, many PNS units require the affected person to routinely change dressings, which once more could also be tough relying upon the location of gadget placement, the affected person’s vary of movement, and cognitive standing.

The APP can doc prior remedies which can embody conservative remedies (bodily remedy, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and topical lotions/ointments), oral medicines (narcotics and non-narcotics), interventional remedies (diagnostic and therapeutic nerve blocks). This data could be extraordinarily necessary when making an attempt to acquire insurance coverage protection of the PNS implant.

The APP is in a novel place throughout preliminary PNS session to debate the affected person’s targets. Emphasis on useful targets along with ache discount targets is extraordinarily necessary. Purposeful objective examples embody sleep habits, strolling distance, work standing, and patient-specific targets. Objective dialogue and documentation are extraordinarily helpful to make sure the affected person has sensible expectations following PNS implant. For instance, APPs might have to re-emphasize that achievement of 100% ache aid could also be tough and the APP might have to work additional with the affected person to develop and doc the affected person’s outlined significant ache aid, expressed as a share. This data can also be useful to evaluation post-PNS implant or on the finish of non permanent PNS therapy to report the diploma of success with remedy. It is usually necessary to clarify evidence-based PNS outcomes to sufferers primarily based upon present analysis. For instance, APPs can talk about obtainable analysis supporting sustained ache aid comply with finish of remedy for 60-day non permanent percutaneous PNS.27,28

APPs can obtain schooling on at the moment obtainable PNS methods by way of digital or face-to-face webinars, workshops, persevering with schooling conferences, and so on. Based mostly upon this foundational information, APPs ought to be capable to have an knowledgeable dialogue with sufferers concerning at the moment obtainable PNS methods and weigh the dangers versus advantages of every system for the precise wants of the affected person. Some sufferers specific a choice in receiving a brief versus everlasting PNS system and the APP ought to be ready to reply any questions on the variations between units.

The APP can present preliminary affected person schooling concerning using PNS on the time of the preliminary seek the advice of or at a subsequent return go to. Further pre- and post-implant schooling is typically offered by different care workforce members as nicely. As soon as it’s sure the affected person is an effective candidate for PNS and the affected person agrees they’re on this remedy, an appointment could be organized with a PNS implanting doctor. A diagnostic peripheral nerve block (ideally carried out by the implanting doctor) can be organized. Lastly, a psychological well being evaluation ought to be pursued.

Submit-PNS Implant

After PNS implant, the APP performs an necessary function in affected person follow-up. At every follow-up appointment, the affected person’s gadget utilization ought to be documented (ie, variety of hours used per day, gadget settings, and so on.). The affected person’s ache numeric ranking scale (NRS) rating and share ache aid ought to be documented, along with progress in the direction of assembly their pre-implant useful targets. If the affected person requires gadget interrogation or programming adjustment, the APP ought to coordinate an appointment with the gadget consultant for this to happen.

Different metrics must also be assessed together with bodily functioning, emotional functioning, affected person satisfaction, and adversarial occasions. These metrics fall underneath the auspices of the Initiative on Strategies, Measurement, and Ache Evaluation in Scientific Trials (IMMPACT) pointers highlighting the six core domains of ache, bodily functioning, emotional functioning, satisfaction, adversarial occasions, and disposition (eg, therapy adherence).29 Moreover, the Nationwide Institutes of Well being’s Affected person Reported End result Measurement Data System (PROMIS) measures ache, fatigue, adverse have an effect on, bodily perform, and social perform. PROMIS demonstrates validity in each real-world scientific settings and in comparative effectiveness analysis.30 These measurements from a number of core domains ought to be inputted into neuromodulation registries to make sure that providers and requirements of care are benchmarked. Moreover, abstraction of those outcomes over time might establish constructive and adverse predictors of long-term success with PNS, which can be subsequently enhance APP schooling and inform future optimum affected person choice.

At follow-up appointments, the APP wants to pay attention to potential PNS problems which can fall underneath two classes: hardware-related problems and organic problems. These problems are listed in Desk 3, which has been developed from Problems of Spinal Twine Stimulation and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Methods: A Overview of the Literature by Eldabe et al.31

The Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) manages the Producer and Person Facility Gadget Expertise (MAUDE) database, which mandates producers, importers, and gadget consumer services to report any adversarial occasions associated to medical units together with PNS. Voluntary stories from healthcare professionals are additionally inspired to uphold affected person security and facilitate benchmarking of providers and requirements of care.32 APPs ought to have interaction with the PNS gadget firm to troubleshoot low-risk problems equivalent to gentle pores and skin irritation from adhesive (which can be so simple as offering the affected person with hypoallergenic Tegaderm). Ought to the APP encounter extra extreme pores and skin reactions with related systemic signs or irregular laboratory findings (ie, elevated white blood cell rely, erythrocyte sedimentation price or C-reactive protein), consideration ought to be given to ordering a session with infectious illness for knowledgeable opinion.

Desk 3 Peripheral Nerve Stimulator Problems

Gadget Elimination

The APP wants to pay attention to the important thought-process concerned in deciding whether or not to explant each non permanent and everlasting PNS units. Indications for gadget removing might embody affected person choice, gadget an infection, remedy failure, persistent ache on the website of {hardware}, or pores and skin erosion.31 If any of those indications for gadget removing are met, the APP ought to contain the implanting doctor within the decision-making course of. A everlasting PNS gadget will must be eliminated by the implanting doctor in a sterile working room setting, whereas a brief PNS gadget could be eliminated by an APP within the workplace setting.

Whether or not the affected person has reached the tip of intentional 60-day therapy with a brief PNS gadget or they’re having non permanent PNS device-related problems and require early lead pull, this may be completed within the workplace setting by the APP. Lead removing ought to be carried out using sterile method, although revealed analysis on outcomes of sterile vs unsterile removing of PNS leads is at the moment missing.

Keys to correct lead pull method could be remembered utilizing the acronym P.A.T.H as outlined in Desk 4. Further measures generally utilized throughout the non permanent PNS lead pull embody therapeutic massage on the website to “loosen” the lead and disrupt any adhesions and potential injection of native anesthetic into the world of the lead as it’s eliminated to “lubricate” the tissues close to the implanted lead.

Desk 4 P.A.T.H for Steered Non permanent Peripheral Nerve Stimulator Lead Elimination*

Similarities vs Variations Between NPs and PAs

Whereas a radical dialogue on the similarities and variations between NPs and PAs is past the scope of this manuscript, you will need to observe how these similarities or variations would possibly play a task within the care of PNS sufferers.

Some establishments make the most of NPs and PAs interchangeably for pre-operative, intra-operative, or post-operative affected person care wants. Definitely, most of the abilities for APP involvement in neuromodulation could be realized by way of on-the-job coaching throughout “onboarding” or “orientation”. Moreover, the prior profession of the NP or PA might lend itself nicely to sure “phases” of affected person care (ie, pre-operative, intra-operative, or post-operative). For instance, a Registered Nurse (RN) engaged on a surgical flooring who then trains to develop into an NP might have a very excessive skillset for post-operative care of neuromodulation sufferers. Equally, a surgical first assistant who continues their coaching to develop into a PA might have a really superior talent set for helping within the intra-operative take care of neuromodulation sufferers.

It ought to be famous that the schooling, preliminary certification, upkeep of certification, and licensure necessities are completely different between NPs and PAs. Desk 5 illustrates these variations in a side-by-side comparability, with data obtained from the American Academy of Doctor Assistants (AAPA) and the American Affiliation of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).33,34

Desk 5 NPs and PAs Schooling, Certification, Upkeep of Certification, and Licensure Necessities

Future Instructions

Extra analysis is required concerning the optimum stimulation waveforms for PNS and the protection of steady PNS at numerous frequencies.35,36 It’s potential that PNS waveforms may very well be modified to supply improved aid in sufferers or probably used as salvage PNS remedy in those that have misplaced efficacy.

Distant monitoring of PNS sufferers is one other space of analysis being additional developed. Analysis has already been revealed concerning using distant programming for spinal twine stimulation sufferers with power ache, and it’s potential that comparable strategies may very well be utilized with PNS sufferers to enhance affected person outcomes.37

PNS know-how is continuous to develop and advance, together with modifications to MRI labeling of PNS units.38–41 Due to this fact, sufferers who beforehand might not have been very best candidates for PNS, because of the anticipated future or lifetime want of superior imaging, might now be higher suited to obtain this remedy.

Lastly, additional analysis is required concerning the function of APPs associated to neuromodulation affected person outcomes (ie, affected person satisfaction, post-operative problems, and so on.). An April 2020 research titled A Hybrid SWOT Evaluation of the Neuromodulation Course of for Continual Ache discovered that utilization of superior observe registered nurses as “neuromodulation nurses” freed up neurosurgeon time by offloading obligations equivalent to making ready sufferers for surgical procedure, inspecting stimulators, and figuring out potential issues with stimulation remedy, and so on. The paper stories using neuromodulation nurses “yielded important shorter queuing instances and higher affected person satisfaction.”42 Particular to PNS, the function of the APP may very well be measured by way of affected person or implanting supplier satisfaction surveys. Moreover, evaluation of PNS affected person outcomes (ie, ache aid, useful enchancment, post-operative problems, and so on.) may very well be additional analyzed to find out if there’s a correlation between outcomes and therapy by an APP supplier.


The APP is an integral member of the scientific care workforce in ache administration clinics, notably these practices using PNS. In any respect levels of the affected person expertise, the APP can optimize outcomes and help in avoidance of problems. This information ought to function a framework for correct useful resource allocation in ache administration clinics. It is going to be crucial, transferring ahead, that APPs proceed to remain updated on evidence-based analysis concerning PNS therapies, greatest practices associated to care of PNS sufferers and new PNS gadget choices.

Writer Contributions

Chelsey M. Hoffmann, Ryan S. D’Souza, Jonathan M. Hagedorn: All authors made a big contribution to the work reported, whether or not that’s within the conception, research design, execution, acquisition of information, evaluation, and interpretation, or in all these areas; took half in drafting, revising or critically reviewing the article; gave remaining approval of the model to be revealed; have agreed on the journal to which the article has been submitted; and conform to be accountable for all elements of the work.


There isn’t any funding to report.


CMH offers normal consulting for SPR Therapeutics and Nalu Medical. RSD has an investigator-initiated grant with Nevro Corp. JMH is a guide for Abbott, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Nevro, and Saluda. He has funded analysis with Abbott, Medtronic, and Saluda.


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