Current Issue - May 2021 - Vol 24 Issue 3


  1. 2021;24;215-222Efficacy of Pulsed Radiofrequency or Short-Term Spinal Cord Stimulation for Acute/Subacute Zoster-Related Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Controlled Trial
    Randomized Controlled Trial
    Cheng-fu Wan, MD, and Tao Song, MD.

BACKGROUND: Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the final stage of varicella zoster infection and a severe refractory neuropathic pain. Hence preventing transition of herpes zoster-related pain to PHN is a very important therapeutic principle for patients at an early stage, especially for older patients.Both pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) and short-term spinal cord stimulation (stSCS) have been proven to be effective to relieve acute/subacute zoster-related pain. However, which treatment could achieve better analgesic effects remains unclear.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate the therapeutic efficacy and safety of PRF and stSCS in patients with acute/subacute zoster-related pain.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, double-blinded study.

SETTING: Department of Pain Medicine, the First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University.

METHODS: Ninety-six patients with acute/subacute zoster-related pain were equally randomized into 2 groups: PRF group and stSCS group. Patients in the different groups were treated with high-voltage, long-duration PRF or stSCS. The therapeutic effects were evaluated using a Numeric Rating Scale (NRS-11) and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) at different time points. The average dose of pregabalin (mg/d) administrated at different time points was also recorded.

RESULTS: The posttreatment NRS-11 scores in the 2 groups were significantly lower compared with baseline (P < 0.001). The NRS-11 scores in the stSCS group were significantly lower than those in the PRF group at 30 and 180 days after treatments (P < 0.05). The SF-36 scores of general health, social function, role-emotional, mental health, bodily pain, physical function, physical role, and vitality could be significantly improved at each time point after treatments in the 2 groups. Some SF-36 scores could be significantly improved at some time points in the stSCS group compared with the PRF group. The rescue drug (pregabalin) dosages were lower in the stSCS group than those in the PRF group at days 90 and 180 after treatments. There was no bleeding at the puncture site, infection, postoperative paresthesia, nerve injury, or any other serious adverse effects in either group.

LIMITATIONS: Single-center study, relatively small number of patients.

CONCLUSIONS: PRF and stSCS are both effective and safe therapeutic alternatives for patients with acute/subacute zoster-related pain, however, stSCS could achieve more pain relief and improvement of life quality compared with PRF.

KEY WORD: Pulsed radiofrequency, short-term spinal cord stimulation, zoster-related pain, Numeric Rating Scale, 36-Item Short Form Health Survey