The Use of Remote Programming for Spinal Cord Stimulation for Patients With Chronic Pain During the COVID-19 Outbreak in China

Neuromodulation. 2021 Apr;24(3):441-447. doi: 10.1111/ner.13382. Epub 2021 Mar 22.


Objectives: Due to the impact of COVID-19 epidemic, face-to-face follow-up treatments for patients with chronic pain and implanted spinal cord stimulation (SCS) devices are forced to be delayed or stopped. This has led to more follow ups being done remotely. Meanwhile, with the development of 4G/5G networks, smartphones, and novel devices, remote programming has become possible. Here, we investigated the demand and utility of remote follow-ups including remote programming for SCS for patients with chronic pain.

Materials and methods: A questionnaire including questions on demographic characteristics, pain history, postimplantation life quality, standard follow-up experience, remote follow-up, and remote programming experience was sent to patients diagnosed as chronic intractable pain and treated with SCS during January 2019 to January 2020.

Results: A total of 64 participants completed the questionnaire. About 70% of participants expressed demands for remote follow-ups due to the inconvenience, high costs, and time consumption of traditional follow-up visits. Nearly 97% of participants have attempted remote follow-ups, and about 81% of participants have further tried remote programming. Approximately, 96% of them recognized the benefits.

Conclusions: The remote programming was in high demand among participants. Most of the participants have tried remote follow-ups or even remote programming. The remote programming appeared to be more efficient, economic and were widely recognized among participants.

Keywords: COVID-19; Chronic pain; remote programming; spinal cord stimulation; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Implantable Neurostimulators*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Remote Sensing Technology / methods*
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation / methods*