Women's Health Matters

Text Size
Jump to body content

Nerve Impulse Modification

These techniques attempt to modify the electric signals sent by your nerves. They are primarily used to treat women with neuropathic pain. Relaxation techniques, antidepressant medications and counselling may also decrease neuropathic pain by changing how these nerve impulses are processed in the brain.

TENS Units

TENS is an abbreviation for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator. By electrically stimulating the nerves, it might be possible to prevent pain messages from reaching the brain.

To accomplish this, electrodes are placed on the affected areas of the body and electrical impulses are sent to the nerves from a small battery-operated unit, which is about the size of a cell phone. The current stimulates nerve pathways, producing a tingling or massaging sensation. The units can be adjusted to prevent the current from causing undue pain. Some women who give birth at the Women's College Hospital campus choose to use TENS units to help control their pain during labour. Although TENS units do not work for everyone, they appear to be safe and may help some women control neuropathic pain.


Acupuncture is another kind of nerve stimulation that can relieve the symptoms of CPP. It doesn't work for everyone, but it has helped some women. To learn more, read about acupuncture in our A-Z Health Topics section.

Nerve Blocks

To reduce chronic pain, a nerve block (or phenol block) can be used. This is a diluted alcohol solution, which is injected into or near a nerve or into the spine, to destroy many of the nerve fibers that it comes in contact with, in effect 'thinning' out the nerve. Because peripheral nerves (unlike the spinal cord) can re-grow, the effects of the nerve block eventually wear off, usually after six to 12 months.

Presacral Neurectomy

A presacral neurectomy refers to the removal of a group of nerves, which transmit pain sensation from the middle pelvic organs, such as the bladder and uterus. It is a treatment of last resort and, in some cases, makes it worse. This operation will only help women whose pain is in the centre of the body, not to one side. There is some risk of constipation and urinary retention after the surgery, since these nerves affect bowel and bladder functions.


Jump to top page

This website proudly supported by:

Chronic Pelvic Pain

Medical Description







Nerve Impulse Modification

Physical Therapy and Biofeedback

Relaxation Techniques


Trigger Point Injections


Discussion Groups

Share knowledge and talk about your gynecological health-related experiences with other women.

Gynecological Health Discussion Forum

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital