EFNS guidelines on neurostimulation therapy for neuropathic pain


  • This is a Continuing Medical Education article, and can be found with corresponding questions on the Internet at http://www.efns.org/content.php?pid=132. Certificates for correctly answering the questions will be issued by the EFNS.

Dr G. Cruccu, Dipartimento Scienze Neurologiche, Viale Università 30-00185 Roma, Italy (tel.: +39 06 49694209; fax: +39 06 49314758; e-mail: cruccu@uniroma1.it).


Pharmacological relief of neuropathic pain is often insufficient. Electrical neurostimulation is efficacious in chronic neuropathic pain and other neurological diseases. European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS) launched a Task Force to evaluate the evidence for these techniques and to produce relevant recommendations. We searched the literature from 1968 to 2006, looking for neurostimulation in neuropathic pain conditions, and classified the trials according to the EFNS scheme of evidence for therapeutic interventions. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is efficacious in failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type I (level B recommendation). High-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be better than placebo (level C) although worse than electro-acupuncture (level B). One kind of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has transient efficacy in central and peripheral neuropathic pains (level B). Motor cortex stimulation (MCS) is efficacious in central post-stroke and facial pain (level C). Deep brain stimulation (DBS) should only be performed in experienced centres. Evidence for implanted peripheral stimulations is inadequate. TENS and r-TMS are non-invasive and suitable as preliminary or add-on therapies. Further controlled trials are warranted for SCS in conditions other than failed back surgery syndrome and CRPS and for MCS and DBS in general. These chronically implanted techniques provide satisfactory pain relief in many patients, including those resistant to medication or other means.