Skip to main content

A History of Neurostimulation


The word “electricity” comes from the word “ēlektron,” the Greek word for amber. Greek scientists found that when Amber, the fossilized resin of trees, was rubbed with another material, it created sparks of electricity. The capture or harnessing of these sparks led to the ability to utilize electricity in many applications, including the treatment of human disease conditions.

The earliest documented use of electricity to treat pain occurred around 63 ad. Scribonius Largus discovered that pain from gout could be relieved by contact with a torpedo fish and suggested that this treatment would be effective for generalized pain relief and treatment.


  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Dorsal Column
  • Human Disease Condition
  • Direct Muscle Stimulation
  • Contact Lead

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-1560-2_56
  • Chapter length: 4 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   219.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4614-1560-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   279.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 56.1
Fig. 56.2
Fig. 56.3
Fig. 56.4
Fig. 56.5
Fig. 56.6
Fig. 56.7
Fig. 56.8


  1. Stillings D. The first use of electricity for pain treatment. Medtronic. Archive on Electro-Stimulation. 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Pumfrey S, Tilley D. William Gilbert: forgotten genius. Phys World. 2003:15–6.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Experiments on electricity with some conjectures on the cause of its effects, vol. 8. 2nd ed. Geneva; 1749, Paris, 12 mo.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cotti P. The discovery of the electric current. Physica B. 1995;204(1–4):367–9; condensed matter.

    CrossRef  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Sakas D, Simpson A, Krames E. Operative neuromodulation, Functional neuroprosthetic surgery: an introduction, vol. 1. Vienna: Springer; 2007. 482 pages.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. Shealy CN, Mortimer JT, Reswick JB. Electrical inhibition of pain by stimulation of the dorsal columns: preliminary clinical report. Anesth Analg. 1967;46:489–91.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeffrey T. B. Peterson .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2013 American Academy of Pain Medicine

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Peterson, J.T.B., Deer, T.R. (2013). A History of Neurostimulation. In: , et al. Comprehensive Treatment of Chronic Pain by Medical, Interventional, and Integrative Approaches. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4614-1559-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4614-1560-2

  • eBook Packages: MedicineMedicine (R0)