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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Chronic Pain Rehabilitation for Upper Extremity Pain Following Stimulator Removal

Unusual or unexpected effect of treatment, Clinical situation which can not be reproduced for ethical reasons

Alison M. Vargovich, Jill Chorney, Richard T. Gross, Kevin E. Vowles

USA Department of Family Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, NY, USA

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:1373-1377

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.911157

Available online:

Published: 2018-11-19


BACKGROUND: Both spinal cord stimulators (SCS) and interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation program (CPRP) are evidence-based treatments for chronic pain but differ on treatment foci. SCS focuses on decreasing the subjective pain experience as a means of improving function and quality of life. CPRP focuses on addressing the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral factors associated with chronic pain to improve function. Due to experimental constraints, these 2 treatment options are difficult to compare; however, this case report offers a unique opportunity to examine outcomes for both interventions in a sequential manner for changes in pain, function, and mood.
CASE REPORT: This single case study examined the separate and sequential outcomes of SCS and CPRP in a 26-year-old patient with a work-related injury resulting in chronic upper extremity pain. This patient was treated within an interdisciplinary CPRP following failure and removal of an SCS. Outcomes were measured by psychological assessments and return-to-work through a 6-month post-CPRP follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Pain intensity decreased following SCS placement and CPRP, while pain-related distress, pain interference, and overall affect improved only after CPRP, with sustained improvements at 6-month follow-up. Patient evidenced improvement following treatment with SCS and CPRP. SCS resulted in improvement in subjective pain and modest improved self-reported activity. CPRP demonstrated marked improvement in pain, self-reported function, and mood with patient eventually returning to work and maintaining most of these gains 6-months after completing CPRP treatment.

Keywords: Pain Clinics, pain management, Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Psychology, Clinical