Peripheral stimulation for treatment of trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia and trigeminal posttraumatic neuropathic pain: A pilot study

Mark D. Johnson, Kim J. Burchiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Trigeminal neuropathic pain (TNP) after facial trauma or herpes zoster infection is often refractory to treatment. Peripheral nerve stimulation has been used to treat occipital neuralgia; however, efficacy in controlling facial TNP or postherpetic neuralgia is unknown. A retrospective case series of patients who underwent subcutaneous placement of stimulating electrodes for treatment of V1 or V2 TNP secondary to herpetic infection or facial trauma is presented. METHODS: Ten patients received implanted subcutaneous pulse generators and quadripolar electrodes for peripheral stimulation of the trigeminal nerve supraorbital or infraorbital branches. Long-term treatment results were determined by retrospective review of medical records (1998-2003) and by independent observers interviewing patients using a standard questionnaire. Surgical complication rate, preoperative symptom duration, degree of pain relief, preoperative and postoperative work status, postoperative changes in medication usage, and overall degree of therapy satisfaction were assessed. Mean follow-up was 26.6 ± 4.7 months. RESULTS: Peripheral nerve stimulation provided at least 50% pain relief in 70% of patients with TNP or postherpetic neuralgia. Medication use declined in 70% of patients, and 80% indicated that they were mostly or completely satisfied with treatment overall. There were no treatment failures (<50% pain relief and a lack of decrease in medication use) in the posttraumatic group, and two failures (50%) occurred in the postherpetic group. The complication rate requiring reoperation was 30%. CONCLUSION: Peripheral nerve stimulation of the supraorbital or infraorbital branches of the trigeminal nerve is an effective method for relief of TNP after facial trauma or herpetic infection. A prospective trial using this novel approach to treat these disorders is thus warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Peripheral nerve stimulation
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Posttraumatic neuropathic pain
  • Trigeminal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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