Percutaneous neuromodulation therapy (PNT) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment that involves electrical stimulation applied to the deep tissues in the back with the goal of providing relief for lower back pain. It has been cleared by FDA for this indication.
The typical candidates for PNT include patients who suffer from chronic/recurring lower back pain, those who are at risk for developing long-term intractable pain, or those who have not had complete pain relief from nonsurgical treatments. Would like to try a minimally invasive, non-surgical approach before considering surgery
The underlying mechanism of chronic back pain comprises hypersensitivity of nerve cells involved in the pain pathways, leading to repeated bouts of pain even without repeated injury. Therefore, when electrical stimulation is applied to the deep tissues in the back, it can provide relief for certain types of chronic pain. PNT is one such method of electrical stimulation, which uses very thin needle electrodes that are inserted directly into the deep tissues in the area of the spine implicated in the pain. The goal here is to calm the hypersensitivity of the nerves to relieve repeated bouts of pain.
PNT is a non-invasive, low-risk procedure that can help treat pain. It can be especially effective in preventing the progression to more debilitating, long-term pain that can persist for months or years. It helps provide pain relief and potentially increase their activity levels, improve their quality of sleep, and very importantly, reduce their need for pain medications. This is critically important in the times of the opioids epidemic, where is a pressing need to find non-addictive pain relief methods.
PNT is a minimally invasive procedure that can be done in a physician’s office. The patient is prepped and asked to lie face down on an examination table. 10 electrodes (called safe guides) are placed on the skin using adhesives in the affected area of the back. These electrodes have ultra-thin needles that are inserted into the skin. The electrical stimulation is then administered to the nerves through them. It elicits a warm tingling sensation to the patient but it should not cause discomfort. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, and is reported to be safe and with no advised limitations to daily activities.
It may take several PNT sessions before there is the desired level of pain relief. It is quite common for patients to undergo 3-4 sessions. The sessions are done 1-2 times per week.
Pain perception is complex and despite the fact that how PNT modulates the perception of pain is poorly understood, it has been shown to be effective against a broad range of chronic painful conditions. With relative ease of use and no addiction potential, it provides a convenient and effective alternative to opioids for pain relief. Furthermore, it is a very useful minimally invasive option before one may have to resort to a surgical treatment option.