Spinal Cord Stimulation for Neuropathic Pain Treatment in Brachial Plexus Avulsions: A Literature Review and Report of Two Cases

Marissa L. Dombovy-Johnson, Jonathan M. Hagedorn, Rachel E. Wilson, Nicholas C. Canzanello, Matthew J. Pingree, James C. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: At least 50% of individuals who suffer a brachial plexus avulsion (BPA) will develop chronic pain, frequently more debilitating than their functional limitations. Similar to other neuropathic pain states, BPA pain is often refractory to pharmacological agents. Despite spinal cord stimulation (SCS) first being used for BPA in 1974, there have been no published literature reviews examining the current evidence of SCS for the treatment of neuropathic pain following BPA. In addition to a clinical review of the literature for this indication, we also share our experience with high-frequency SCS (HF-SCS) for BPA-related pain. Methods: MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched. All published articles including at least one BPA individual treated with SCS for pain treatment were included. Results: The initial search identified 288 articles, of which 13 met inclusion criteria for a total of 41 patients. These patients were primarily male and underwent SCS with reported improved pain scores. Case Reports: HF-SCS leads were percutaneously placed in two male patients who suffered BPA from traumatic injuries. At follow-ups of 13 and eight months, respectively, both patients continued to report an improvement in their pain. Conclusions: Despite published reports showing benefit for pain control in patients with BPA, the overall low quality, retrospective evidence included in this review highlights the need for a rigorous prospective study to further address this indication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)704-712
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Chronic pain
  • interventional pain management
  • neuromodulation
  • spinal cord stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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