Treating Pain Blog

Doctor Q&A Video

“The Future of Neuromodulation” with Dr. Peter Staats

Peter Staats, MD

In the second video of the “On Pain” series by Pain Medicine News, Dr. Peter Staats discusses the present and future of Neuromodulation and how it can be used by pain specialists.

You can watch the full interview here.

Pain Management Specialists went though a long period of time where they used something called Tonic Low-Frequency Stimulation based on work and researched that was conducted in 1967. However, in the last 8-10 years, there’s been a widespread recognition that it’s not an ideal technique for treating pain. Fortunately, other approaches are evolving.

For example, High-Frequency Stimulation allows us to use various frequencies to help stimulate nerves. There’s Burst Frequencies, which uses burst of electrical activity that mimics the nervous system. And finally, Closed Loop Stimulation, where, for the first time, doctors are able to measure the activity in the spinal cord as it is being stimulated.

Understanding the nervous system and how it responds to electrical stimulation makes spinal cord stimulation widely recognized as a viable treatment for those in chronic pain.

There are studies that are transformative in this field, because neuromodulation has the potential to help minimize the opioid crisis. The more stimulators are used, there is a corresponding drop-off in the amount of opioid that are used to treat that pain.

If patients are taking opioids to relieve a pain problem, and you can relieve it with a non-opioid approach, there are great opportunities here. – Dr. Peter Staats

Patients who are on opioids actually do worse than patients who aren’t on high doses of opioids, and this is for everyday quality of life, performance, and pain relief. This can help prevent people from having to get on medication. Neuromodulation has an important role of helping patients avoid opioids, and also minimizing them after someone’s been on them for a while, after implanting stimulators.

It’s evolving. Stimulators are becoming miniaturized and non-invasive in it’s entirety. Patient can stimulate their own nerves because nothing is implanted.

Neuromodulation is now going from being an end-of-the-road treatment option to the beginning of any therapy program and before medication ever has to be introduced. It’s an inexpensive approach to helping patients treat their pain.

A Q&A with Dr. Staats also appeared in print in the November issue of Pain Medicine News, which also can be found on our website.

New episodes of “On Pain” will appear every Thursday at PainMedicineNews.com/Multimedia.