Pain medicine doctors have long believed in the ability of spinal cord stimulation to help relieve neuropathic pain. Indeed, clinics like Texas-based Lone Star Pain Medicine ( include spinal cord stimulation on their list of services. But now, a new research study seems to suggest that the therapy can also help stroke victims regain some measure of mobility.

Neuropathic pain and loss of mobility following a stroke share quite a few similarities. Both deal with the central nervous system. So given the success doctors have had treating neuropathic pain via spinal cord stimulation, it stands to reason the therapy could also be effective in dealing with the aftermath of stroke.

Instant Mobility Improvements

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University published the results of their most recent study in February 2023 in the Nature Medicine journal. Their research involved utilizing small electrodes implanted in the neck to stimulate the central nervous system. They theorize that the right type of stimulation in the right area could help patients regain mobility in their hands and arms.

Stroke victims often lose mobility due to nerve circuits that are damaged by the stroke. The idea of applying spinal cord stimulation is to take advantage of those circuits that still do work in order to give patients their mobility back. According to the researchers, it works.

Researchers observed and recorded patient abilities without stimulation to establish a baseline. Then they applied the electrodes and began the procedure. In many cases, patients experienced immediate results. They were instantly able to do things with their arms and hands they hadn’t done in years.

One particular patient was not able to tie her shoes or cut food on a plate without stimulation. But with the stimulation, she was able to perform both tasks as if she had never had a stroke. The patient told researchers that she felt like she had control of her arm and hand when the stimulation was on. She hasn’t felt that control in more than nine years.

A Small-Scale Study

It should be noted that the study was rather small in scale. As with all small-scale studies, the results should not be assumed conclusive. But they do offer motivation to conduct similar studies in the very near future.

Spinal cord stimulation is already FDA approved for relieving neuropathic pain. It is a safe therapy that has proven its worth during the years doctors have been recommending it. As such, adapting it to treat stroke-related loss of mobility doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. This study proves the concept, at least.

The Potential for Permanent Implantation

When Lone Star doctors recommend spinal cord stimulation for neuropathic pain, they are recommending a treatment that could ultimately lead to permanent implantation of a stimulator device. Doctors obviously do not start with permanent implantation.

Instead, Loan Star uses a temporary device that is taped to the patient’s back. Tiny electrodes are inserted through the skin and directed to the site of the patient’s pain. Electrical stimulation is then initiated, and the patient observed.

If the temporary device produces the desired results, the patient and their doctor can discuss permanent implantation. If the desired results are not achieved, the device can be removed and other options discussed.

Future studies may indicate that spinal cord stimulation is an appropriate treatment for patients suffering loss of mobility after stroke. We know the treatment can relieve neuropathic pain, so its potential for restoring lost mobility is pretty good. Now we just need more studies to prove that it works.