Foot and leg pain in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) presents a challenge even with neuromodulation techniques such as spinal cord stimulation (SCS). We report our experience with a novo technique of direct sciatic nerve electrical stimulation (DISNES) for intractable foot and leg pain in CRPS I.
Following Research Ethics Board (REB) approval, data were gathered for 16 patients (10 women and 6 men, age 26-61 years) who had been subjected to ipsilateral DISNES. All 16 patients had failed conventional medical management. As well, seven subjects were previously treated with SCS for CRPS I pain. These subjects reported pain relief in the thigh and leg, however the SCS was unable to alleviate the disabling foot pain despite varied and multiple programming techniques. The remaining nine subjects were treated primarily with DISNES. Evaluation was done using visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index version 2 (ODI), and quality of life (EQ-5D and SF-36) scores done both pre-DISNES and at two follow-ups.
VAS scores decreased by 59% at follow-up (F/U) 1 (P = 0.00001) and 46% F/U 2. ODI improving by 40% F/U 1 (P = 0.0038) and 37% F/U 2. SF-36 scores improved by 69% F/U 1 (P = 0.015) and 80% F/U 2. EQ-5D scores improved significantly by F/U 1 (P = 0.00030) but insignificantly at F/U 2 (P = 0.81). There was also a rapid resolution of autonomic features such as edema, hyperemia, and allodynia (within 7-10 days). Three subjects returned to work post-DISNES.
Our study shows that DISNES helps to control the disabling foot pain in CRPS I, thus improving the quality of life, improving ambulation and decreasing disability. DISNES also alleviates autonomic features and dystonia in CRPS I. Further studies are needed to determine long-term efficacy as this study pool is limited in size and follow-up period.

© 2020 International Neuromodulation Society.