Nerve stimulation for chronic pelvic pain and bladder pain syndrome: a systematic review

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2013 Aug;92(8):881-7. doi: 10.1111/aogs.12184. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) and bladder pain syndrome (BPS) can have a negative impact on quality of life. Neuromodulation has been suggested as a possible treatment for refractory pain. To assess the effectiveness of tibial and sacral nerve stimulation in the treatment of BPS and CPP. We searched until July 2012: the Cochrane Library, EMBASE (1980-2012), Medline (1950-2012), Web of knowledge (1900-2012), LILACS (1982-2012) and SIGLE (1990-2012) with no language restrictions. We manually searched through bibliographies and conference proceedings of the International Continence Society. Randomized and prospective quasi-randomized controlled studies vs. sham nerve stimulation treatment or usual care of patients with CPP and BPS who underwent sacral or tibial nerve stimulation were included. Any studies involving transcutaneous stimulation were excluded. The outcome was a cure or improvement in symptoms. Three studies with 169 patients treated with tibial nerve stimulation were included; two for CPP and one for BPS. There were improvements in pain, urinary and quality of life scores. There were no reported data for sacral nerve stimulation. There is scanty literature reporting variable success of posterior tibial nerve stimulation in improving pain, urinary symptoms and quality of life in CPP and BPS. In view of the dearth of quality literature, a large multi-centered clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of electrical nerve stimulation to treat BPS and CPP along with the cost-analysis of this treatment is recommended.

Keywords: Chronic pelvic pain; bladder pain syndrome; posterior tibial nerve stimulation; sacral nerve stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cystitis, Interstitial / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pelvic Pain / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Research Design