Pocket pain following spinal cord stimulator generator implantation: A narrative review of this under-reported risk

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pain practice : the official journal of World Institute of Pain








chronic pain; low back pain; neuromodulation; pocket pain; spinal cord stimulation


INTRODUCTION: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a well-established treatment option for chronic pain. Pain over the implantable pulse generator, or pocket pain, is an incompletely understood risk of SCS implantation which may limit the efficacy of treatment and patient quality of life. The goal of this narrative review is to analyze the literature to gain a more thorough understanding of the incidence and risk factors for the development of pocket pain to help guide treatment options and minimize its occurrence in the future. METHODS: A literature review was conducted investigating the development of pocket pain in patients with SCS for the management of a variety of pain conditions. RESULTS: In total, 305 articles were included in the original database search and 50 met the criteria for inclusion. The highest level of evidence for papers that specifically investigated pocket pain was level III. Four retrospective, observational analyses included pocket pain as a primary outcome. The remainder of the included studies listed pocket pain as an adverse event of SCS implantation. CONCLUSIONS: There is a relative dearth of primary literature that examines the incidence, characteristics, and health economic implications of pocket pain in patients with SCS. This highlights the need for large-scale, high-quality prospective or randomized controlled trials examining pocket pain. This may ultimately help prevent and reduce pocket pain leading to improved efficacy of treatment and greater patient quality of life.


Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine