Tackling shoulder pain with new technologies.
Strokes can effect patients in a variety of ways depending on which area of the brain is damaged. 85% of all stroke survivors report developing pains in the arms and, more specifically, the shoulder. This pain tends to be on the side of the body effected during the stroke and can be caused by a weakening of the muscles that control the shoulder joints. Traditionally this pain is controlled with painkillers or steroid injections if the area is inflamed. These methods are only short term solutions as long-term use of painkillers can introduce new problems to the patient, however, a new technology has been developed that can control chronic shoulder pain in a more long term, drug-free way.
Medical company Bioness has developed a pain management therapy that is inserted directly into the body with minimally-invasive surgery and which allows a patient complete control over their pain management. The device, called a Stimrouter, works by implanting a wire into the shoulder. When in place the wire can then be stimulated using a remote to send electrical impulses into the axillary nerve, allowing the patient to manipulate how strong the current is. It has been found that sending electrical currents to this nerve can control and reduce pain in the shoulder. Due to the localized action of the Stimrouter it provides more effective relief than traditional pain-relieving medicines which circulate through the whole body. Furthermore, it targets the issue without the side effects of medicines.
The Stimrouter system works in a similar way to traditional transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in that sending electrical impulses into the nerve can block pain signals from travelling along the nerve and back to the brain. TeNS systems work by placing pads onto the skin though which the currents run while Stimrouter has the added advantage of being placed in the body, right next to the affected area, making it more portable.
While prescription medicines can provide effective pain relief they are only a short term solution. The Stimrouter has been designed as a long term treatment which can be left in place for as long as the patient deems it necessary. This technology not only provides effective pain relief without the potential for negative side effects which come with traditional pain management methods, but also offers patients a level of mobility which will allow them to return to performing everyday tasks with ease.