Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS)

Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) is a non-medication therapy we use to treat chronic pain, particularly in those suffering from neuropathy. It uses electrical stimulation to change the signals the nerve is sending. Research shows that when stimulated, nerves may decrease the pain signals, which in turn provides pain relief. PENS is often confused with electro-acupuncture because both use thin needles to send electricity down into the needles. However, acupuncture needles are placed based on an ancient Chinese practice in order to best repair the body's energies. Unlike acupuncture, PENS places the needles very near to the nerve and nowhere else on the body.

What to Expect
During the procedure, up to 10 needles are inserted into the skin near the injured nerve after anesthesia has been administered. Then, a low-voltage electrical stimulation is connected to the needles. This allows the electricity to go down the needles and into the tissues surrounding the nerve. Patients should expect treatment to last about 30 minutes, although some patients may receive treatment for up to an hour if necessary.

After the Procedure
After the procedure, patients can return home the same day. If given local anesthesia, patients may be asked to have someone drive them home from our office. Severe side effects such as nerve damage are very rare, but patients may experience slight bruising or soreness after they get home. Since this form of therapy does not require any medication, patients should not experience any side effects generally related to pain medication. If necessary, the procedure can be repeated. Unlike a steroid injection, there is no limit on how many times the procedure can be repeated.

See all treatments

Get tips on managing pain in the latest edition of Pain News