Although spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an established therapy for chronic neuropathic pain, still 30% of patients do not respond adequately to trial stimulation. These so called "non-responders" do not receive a permanent implantation for pain relief. The induction and maintenance of central sensitization plays a pivotal role in (chronic) neuropathic pain and is thought to be the resultant of the activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in the dorsal horn. Blocking the NMDA receptor through the use of the non-competitive blocker ketamine has shown to attenuate neuropathic pain, although the undesirable side effects limit its use. The present study was performed to examine whether the combination of SCS with an individually determined sub-effective dose of intrathecal (i.t.) ketamine could convert non-responders into responders in rats with chronic neuropathic pain. Rats received a partial ligation of the sciatic nerve for the induction of neuropathic pain. Animals with tactile hypersensitivity to von Frey monofilaments (n = 15) received 30 min of SCS. Non-responders to SCS (n = 8) received their individually determined sub-effective i.t. dose of ketamine followed by 30 min of SCS. No side effects of the sub-effective dose of ketamine could be noted. The combined treatment of SCS and sub-effective dose of i.t. ketamine in non-responders resulted in a significant reduction of the withdrawal threshold in all previous non-responders to SCS, thereby converting them into responders to SCS.
- Neuropathic pain
- Spinal cord stimulation