Fully Implantable Peripheral Nerve Stimulation for Hemiplegic Shoulder Pain: A Multi-Site Case Series With Two-Year Follow-Up

Neuromodulation. 2018 Apr;21(3):290-295. doi: 10.1111/ner.12726. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


Objective: To explore the feasibility and safety of a single-lead, fully implantable peripheral nerve stimulation system for the treatment of chronic shoulder pain in stroke survivors.

Participants: Participants with moderate to severe shoulder pain not responsive to conservative therapies for six months.

Methods: During the trial phase, which included a blinded sham introductory period, a percutaneous single-lead peripheral nerve stimulation system was implanted to stimulate the axillary nerve of the affected shoulder. After a three-week successful trial, participants received an implantable pulse generator with an electrode placed to stimulate the axillary nerve of the affected shoulder. Outcomes included pain, pain interference, pain-free external rotation range of motion, quality of life, and safety. Participants were followed for 24 months.

Results: Twenty-eight participants underwent trial stimulation and five participants received an implantable pulse generator. The participants who received the implantable generator experienced an improvement in pain severity (p = 0.0002). All five participants experienced a 50% or greater pain reduction at 6 and 12 months, and four experienced at least a 50% reduction at 24 months. There was an improvement in pain interference (p < 0.0001). There was an improvement in pain-free external ROM (p = 0.003). There were no serious adverse events related to the device or to the procedure.

Conclusions: This case series demonstrates the safety and efficacy of a fully implantable axillary PNS system for chronic HSP. Participants experienced reduction in pain, reduction in pain interference, and improved pain-free external rotation ROM. There were no serious adverse events associated with the system or the procedure.

Keywords: Peripheral nerve stimulation; stroke.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemiplegia / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Stroke / complications