Spinal cord stimulation: neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms of action

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2012 Jun;16(3):217-25. doi: 10.1007/s11916-012-0260-4.


Chronic neuropathic pain can significantly reduce quality of life and place an economic burden on individuals and society. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an alternative approach to the treatment of neuropathic pain when standard pharmacological agents have failed. However, an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which SCS inhibits pain is needed to enhance its clinical utility. This review summarizes important findings from recent studies of SCS in animal models of neuropathic pain, highlights current understanding of the spinal neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms by which SCS produces an analgesic effect, and discusses the potential clinical applicability of these findings and future directions for research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / drug effects
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid