From Montreal to Sept-îles, Gaspésie and Abitibi, the Pain Program of the Chronic Pain Clinic at the Montreal Neurological Hospital/Institute (MNH /I) helps patients from Quebec and beyond, who suffer from chronic pain—a condition that affects nearly 20 percent of the population according to some studies. It is currently one of the leading pain centres in Canada using neuromodulation for chronic non-cancer pain.
“Living with pain is very debilitating. Patients come to us after trying everything from surgery to medication to pursue a life without it,” says Claire Nehme, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at the clinic. “Among the various techniques that we use in an attempt to manage chronic pain, neurostimulation is our number one option as it can provide drug-free relief with minimally invasive surgery.”
Neurostimulation has been used at the MNH /I since 1998 mostly for chronic non-cancer pain, such as failed back surgery syndrome, phantom pain, pain caused from neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and pain caused from accidents and viral infections. Introduced by MUHC neurosurgeon Dr. Line
Jacques, it involves the implantation of a small battery-operated device. Electrical pulses from the implant block the pain signal to the brain and replace it with stimulation.
The device is implanted in one of several areas of the body depending on the pain situation: in the epidural space of the spine, to ease cervical or back pain; on a peripheral nerve, placed directly on the nerve that has been injured; in the motor cortex area for mostly upper facial pain; or deep brain stimulation for central pain.
Montreal Neurological Pain Program at a Glance
• Over 2,000 patients/visits per year in the Chronic Pain Clinic
• Up to 40 percent of patients are seen from out of town
• About 500 patients are implanted with neurostimulators at the centre
• 65 percent reduction in pain through use of neurostimulation
• Over 80 percent satisfaction rate with overall care provided at MNH (July 2008 survey)