Background: Conventional tonic spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an effective treatment for patients with therapy-resistant complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Although the therapeutic effect of SCS can diminish over time due to tolerance, pain control can be regained by changing the pulse width and the amplitude and/or by increasing the stimulation frequency. This multicentre, double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled crossover trial was conducted to investigate whether more effective pain reduction is achieved with different frequencies (trial registration, current controlled trials, ISRCTN 36655259). Methods: The investigated settings are as follows: standard 40, 500, 1200 Hz, burst and placebo stimulation. All five were programmed in random order during the 10-week crossover period (2 weeks/setting). The primary outcome parameters were scores on the visual analogue scale (VAS), McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and the Global Perceived Effect (GPE); at the end of the crossover period, patients decided which SCS setting they preferred. A linear mixed models analysis was performed in 29 patients who completed the crossover trial. Results: Significant pain reduction and GPE satisfaction was achieved with four SCS settings compared with placebo stimulation, and these four settings did not differ significantly from each other. Standard stimulation was preferred by 48% of the patients, while 52% preferred non-standard stimulation. Other than pain reduction, factors such as user-friendliness, comfort and recharging time may have influenced the patient's final decision for the preferred stimulation setting. Conclusions: Apparently, for various reasons, patients have a preference for different SCS setting. Therefore, future neuromodulation should aim to implement customized individual patient care by incorporating all stimulation options in one device. Significance: This study demonstrates that standard frequency SCS is an effective therapy for patients with CRPS. However, it also demonstrates that patients can often gain better pain reduction with non-standard frequencies of SCS. Furthermore, it shows that the preferred stimulation setting is not solely driven by the amount of pain reduction, but is also influenced by which stimulation setting feels most comfortable and provides the best user-friendliness. Therefore, we strive to maximize the therapeutic effects of SCS in as many patients as possible. This can be achieved with customized individual patient care by incorporating the various frequencies and waveforms into one single device.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejp.944, hdl.handle.net/1765/93790
Journal European Journal of Pain
Citation
Kriek, N, Groeneweg, J.G, Stronks, D.L, Ridder, D. de, & Huygen, F.J.P.M. (2017). Preferred frequencies and waveforms for spinal cord stimulation in patients with complex regional pain syndrome: A multicentre, double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled crossover trial. European Journal of Pain, 21(3), 507–519. doi:10.1002/ejp.944