Current Issue - March/April 2020 - Vol 23 Issue 2


  1. 2020;23;E219-E230Early Treatment with Temporary Spinal Cord Stimulation Effectively Prevents Development of Postherpetic Neuralgia
    Retrospective Study
    Jiabin Huang, MD, Shaomin Yang, MD, Juan Yang, MD, PhD, Wuping Sun, PhD, Changyu Jiang, PhD, Jiehua Zhou, MD, Disen Li, MD, Donglin Xiong, MD, Dan Bates, BSc, and Lizu Xiao, MD.

BACKGROUND: Some 7.7% of the Chinese population suffer from herpes zoster each year, with 29.8% proceeding on to develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). This amounts to over 32 million people per year. PHN is preceded by 2 phases of pain: acute herpetic neuralgia (AHN), and subacute herpetic neuralgia (SHN). Considering the large individual and economic burden, preventing the transition of AHN/SHN to PHN is crucial. However, to date this has been difficult.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficacy of temporary spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) treatment and prevention of PHN.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective, observational study.

SETTING: Department of Pain Medicine.

METHODS: From 2013 to 2017, 99 patients with AHN (n = 42), SHN (n = 34), and PHN (n = 23) underwent tSCS treatment (7-14 days) after failed pharmacologic and interventional therapies. Visual analog scale (VAS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and analgesic consumption were recorded at baseline, post-tSCS, and 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after tSCS treatment.

RESULTS: Pooled results demonstrated statistically significant decreases in VAS scores and PSQI post-tSCS and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months follow-up (P < 0.001). When compared with the PHN group, both AHN and SHN groups were clinically and statistically improved in VAS scores and PSQI (P < 0.001). Analgesic consumption decreased in all 3 groups after tSCS treatment, and downward linear gradient of medication in the AHN group was more significant than that in the SHN and PHN groups. At 12 months follow-up, 2.5% (1/40) patients in the AHN group, 16.0% (4/25) in the SHN group, and 62.5% (10/16) in the PHN group had ongoing pain >= 3/10 VAS score requiring analgesia. Expressed differently, at 12 months, 97.5% of the AHN group and 84% of the SHN group had pain of 2/10 VAS score or less versus only 37.5% of the PHN group.

LIMITATIONS: This was a single-center, retrospective study, which made it difficult to collect complete data for all variables. The therapeutic effect of tSCS could not be studied independently.

CONCLUSIONS: This retrospective analyses of 99 patients treated with tSCS (7-14 days) suggests that tSCS may be effective for treating and preventing PHN. Early treatment within 4 to 8 weeks was more likely to result in pain <= 2/10 VAS score, improvement in sleep, and no requirement for analgesia at 12 months. Early tSCS may be a promising prevention strategy against the development of chronic neuropathic pain following herpes zoster infection. Further research is justified.

KEY WORDS: Herpes zoster, zoster-related pain, postherpetic neuralgia, temporary spinal cord stimulation