Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an efficacious chronic pain treatment most commonly used in middle-aged patients. Results from previous studies that investigated SCS’ effects in older patient populations have been equivocal. We examine whether SCS outcomes correlate with age.
We retrospectively examined prospectively collected outcomes from 189 patients who underwent SCS at Albany Medical Center between 2012 and 2020. The patients completed the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) preoperatively and 1 year postoperatively. The mean percent change in each outcome was determined and compared via a regression analysis to determine relationships between patient age and each respective outcome metrics. Demographics were compared between patients aged under 65 versus those aged 65 and older via χ2 tests.
All subjects demonstrated the expected improvement on NRS, BDI, PCS, and MPQ from baseline to 1-year follow-up, with several demonstrating statistically significant changes: NRS-worst pain (18.66%, p < 0.001), NRS-least pain (26.9%, p < 0.001), NRS-average pain (26.9%, p < 0.01), NRS-current pain (26.4%, p < 0.001), ODI (19.6%, p < 0.001), PCS (29.8%, p < 0.001), and MPQ (29.4%, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between patients aged under 65 versus those aged 65 and older based on lead type (p = 0.454). Six patients (3.1%) had lead migration, one of whom was 65 or older. Regression analysis revealed improvements in MPQ-sensory and MPQ-affective scores as age increased (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.09; p = 0.046, R2 = 0.05, respectively). Age did not correlate with NRS, ODI, BDI, or PCS. Diagnosis, spinal level of SCS, and lead type were not found to influence any respective outcome measure based on covariate analysis.
This study represents the largest study where age was correlated to specific pain, depression, and disability outcomes following SCS. We provide evidence that SCS outcomes are equivalent, or better, in older patients following SCS. Based on these findings, SCS is a viable option for treatment of chronic pain in elderly patient populations.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.