High-Frequency Stimulation Better for Chronic Back and Leg Pain, Study Says

High-Frequency Stimulation Better for Chronic Back and Leg Pain, Study Says

by Staff

More research is showing that high-frequency spinal cord stimulation (SCS) provides “superior clinical outcomes” compared to conventional SCS stimulation for people with chronic back and leg pain, according to a study published in the latest issue of Neurosurgery.

The high-frequency stimulation is called “HF10” and “offers lasting reductions in back and leg pain after other treatments have failed,” said Dr. Leonardo Kapural of the Center for Clinical Research and Carolinas Pain Institute, and co-author of the study.

The study followed 171 people with moderate to severe back and leg pain that had tried a myriad of other treatments without success.  The participants had chronic pain for an average of 14 years and were treated at 11 pain clinics in the US.  The vast majority – almost 90% – had had previous back surgery, and about the same number were currently taking opioids.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups.  One group was treated with the HF10, where stimulation is delivered to the spinal cord at a rate of 10 kilohertz for short periods of time.  The other group was treated with traditional SCS therapy, where stimulation is delivered to the spinal cord at a lower frequency and for longer periods of time.

At three months, scores for back and leg pain decreased by at least half in more than 80 percent of patients receiving HF10. Those who received conventional SCS achieved similar responses in back pain for 44 percent of patients and in leg pain for 55 percent.

At two years’ follow-up, the HF10 group still had higher response rates: 76 versus 49 percent for back pain and 73 versus 49 percent for leg pain.

On a 0-to-10 rating scale, average back pain score decreased by 5 points with HF10 versus about 3 points for traditional SCS.

Extending follow-up to two years “provides physicians, patients, and payers with rigorous evidence demonstrating the durability of SCS in treating chronic pain,” Dr. Kapural and coauthors write. They note that the results are “particularly impressive” given the patients’ long history of pain and lack of response to other treatments, including back surgery.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Staff

newest oldest
Notify of

Even though I’ve been living with chronic low back pain for 24+ years, I would NEVER choose to have one of these stimulators implanted in my back.. I have many chronic pain contacts thru various groups & organizations, and I’ve not heard one person say they were glad they had the stimulator implanted, but several have said they have had or plan to have them removed. I’m not about to take the risk, and if the FDA has issued recalls on some of them, that just confirms they’re not worth the risk……at least not for me. Buyer Beware.


Angela, Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’m glad you’re getting considerable relief and I wish you the best. I am 37 years old and I commonly worry about my future as well, now. It would be so wonderful to be blissfully unaware that the future could bring difficult changes. I first had pain in my 20’s, so I’ll keep plugging along. I’ll admit to fear… a lot of fear… when I see treatment options tightening. I guess I would tell myself before, “Well, there are other options.” Pharmaceutical options are… well… maybe where I a

(My mother has a somewhat similar story, though it seems her osteoarthritis is more aggressive than mine – so far. It remains to be seen, but watching what she goes through adds to my apprehension about the future.)

Angela Gregory

I have the nevro high frequency and can no longer have MRI scans or diathermy but i was aware of this before implant. I’ve had 3 spinal surgeries prior to this and every available treatment on the NHS in U.K. i currently have 2 inoperable bulging discs. I based my decision on the fact that prior surgeries had increased my pain levels and as my problem ateas are no longer operable then i had nothing to lose. It’s still early days for me, it’s 5 months since implant and my pain is reduced by just over 50% for neuropathic pain in my leg and about 75% back pain. I’m nearly off all opioids too. Just 1 more week left on a reduction programme and i’m free of everything except anti imflammatories. My life has changed considerally for the better after 10+ years of chronic pain. I certainly have no regrets so far but i’m aware that my future may not be as rosy.

Tim Mason

Both excellent comments. For the real information on HF10 and Low Frequency stimulators go to http://www.fda.gov and search medical device recalls. You can search by manufacturer or name of device. The # one complaint is A. Infection and B. failure of device to perform like the trial device. People have them explanted everyday.
If you have been told you are a candidate, buyer beware. Check the FDA website first.
The big reason these are being touted is because they are BIG BUSINESS. They claim to cure everything from acne to erectile dysfunction

Carol H

Bunch of nonsense. Back to the good old days of gadgets.. FAIL


Can you feel this stimulation?

I guess a major concern for me would be that I couldn’t get MRI’s and how would they evaluate further deterioration after implants? Maybe I’m mistaken.

I have sleep apnea and there’s a new implant for that that I’ve thought about… Then I think about my spine and pain and I realize that an implant might mean no MRI’s.