A Systematic Literature Review of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Therapies for the Treatment of Pain

Pain Med. 2020 Aug 1;21(8):1590-1603. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnaa030.


Objective: To conduct a systematic literature review of peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) for pain.

Design: Grade the evidence for PNS.

Methods: An international interdisciplinary work group conducted a literature search for PNS. Abstracts were reviewed to select studies for grading. Inclusion/exclusion criteria included prospective randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with meaningful clinical outcomes that were not part of a larger or previously reported group. Excluded studies were retrospective, had less than two months of follow-up, or existed only as abstracts. Full studies were graded by two independent reviewers using the modified Interventional Pain Management Techniques-Quality Appraisal of Reliability and Risk of Bias Assessment, the Cochrane Collaborations Risk of Bias assessment, and the US Preventative Services Task Force level-of-evidence criteria.

Results: Peripheral nerve stimulation was studied in 14 RCTs for a variety of painful conditions (headache, shoulder, pelvic, back, extremity, and trunk pain). Moderate to strong evidence supported the use of PNS to treat pain.

Conclusion: Peripheral nerve stimulation has moderate/strong evidence. Additional prospective trials could further refine appropriate populations and pain diagnoses.

Keywords: Chronic Pain; Pain Management; Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation; Peripheral Nerve Field Stimulation; Peripheral Nerve Stimulation; Systematic Review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain*
  • Pain Management
  • Peripheral Nerves
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*