A stroke – or in medical terms, CerebroVascular Accident (CVA) – can be catastrophic. If a person survives the stroke, they may be left with significant functional limitations including paralysis, inability to speak or understand(aphasia), spasticity, visual-spatial defects, and pain.
Shoulder Pain Associated with a Stroke
One relatively common pain disorder associated with a stroke is shoulder pain or PSSP. PSSP can be the most troublesome post-stroke consequence negatively impacting on quality of life, rehabilitation and the recovery process.
There are several hypotheses but no proven cause for PSSP. Treatment for PSSP to the present has primarily included medication, bracing, electrical stimulation and physical therapy. However, none of these treatments has been tremendously successful in managing PSSP.
Electrical stimulation comes in many forms. It can be applied superficially via patches and commonly known as TENS(transcutaneous electrical stimulation). More invasive stimulation modalities include spinal cord stimulation.
StimRouter® – A Peripheral Nerve Stimulator Designed Specifically for Post-Stroke Shoulder Pain
Most recently, the FDA has approved a peripheral nerve stimulator, the StimRouter®, specifically for the treatment of PSSP.
The StimRouter® is inserted just under the skin of the upper shoulder using image-guidance either x-ray(fluoroscopy) or ultrasound. It can be inserted with or without sedation but does not require anesthesia. The device is inserted using special needles and takes less than 30 minutes to perform in an outpatient setting. Presently, the StimRouter® needs to be inserted at a surgery center or hospital outpatient surgery center. However, no hospitalization is required. The procedure is covered by most insurances including Medicare.
Once inserted the StimRouter® is activated with an externally applied rechargeable battery unit. An electrode patch applied to the skin over the shoulder allows the battery to be snapped into place. The patch can be kept in place for up to 2 days at a time.
Improvement in PSSP with StimRouter®
Research has demonstrated significant improvement in PSSP with use of the StimRouter®. Once the battery is removed, the patient may have continued pain relief. If you or a loved one suffer from PSSP, the StimRouter® may be the solution. The physicians at NERA Spine, Sports & Pain Medicine can assist you in deciding to proceed with this medical device.