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PTNS is a form of neuromodulation that stimulates the group of nerves at the base of your spine (sacral plexus) that control your bladder and bowel. This is achieved through gentle electrical stimulation via a thin needle inserted into the skin at the inner ankle (near the tibial nerve). If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, PTNS may be trialed as a way of managing your symptoms after agreement with your consultant led team.

PTNS is a minimally invasive procedure that is carried out by your physiotherapist within a class setting at River Bourne Health Club, Chertsey.


What does PTNS involve?

A thin sterile needle is inserted just above the inside of the ankle and a sticky pad is placed on the sole of the foot. The needle will be connected to a handheld machine that will provide some light stimulation for 30 minutes.

People experience the sensation in different ways and so it is difficult to say exactly what the treatment will feel like to you. It is often describe the sensation as "tingling" or "pulsating" at or around the needle site which may travel into your heel or the sole of your foot/toes. There are many different levels of stimulation, so your clinician will be able to adjust treatment to suit you as well as address any discomfort that you might experience during treatment.

The initial treatment course consists of 12 consecutive, weekly or bi-weekly sessions. You will be asked to complete a bladder/bowel diary and questionnaire before and after your course of treatment to monitor whether the treatment is effective. If your symptoms are improving you will need to attend regular top-up sessions (frequency will be discussed with you and your physiotherapist).


Are there any risks?

Potential side effects associated with PTNS treatments include:

  • Discomfort or pain (including throbbing pain) near the stimulation site
  • Redness/inflammation at or near the stimulation site
  • Minor bleeding at the insertion site
  • Toe numbness
  • Stomach ache.


We cannot provide this treatment if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemakers or implantable defibrillators
  • Prone to excessive bleeding
  • Nerve damage that could impact either the percutaneous tibial nerve or pelvic floor function
  • Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant during the duration of the treatment.

Please inform your physiotherapist of any changes to your health during treatment.


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