Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation or DRG stimulation is a treatment that provides relief from chronic neuropathic pain in conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). It involves stimulation of bundles of nerve cells close to the spine called the dorsal root ganglion, which are responsible for the transmission of pain impulses from specific regions of the body. Stimulation of the dorsal root ganglion blocks the transmission of pain impulses to the brain to provide pain relief.
The dorsal root ganglion is a group of nerve cells present along the dorsal nerve roots which emerge from the spinal cord. Damage or irritation to the dorsal root ganglion can result in a form of neuropathic pain called complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS can cause severe pain, usually affecting one of the limbs. Chronic pain can adversely affect your activities of daily living, productivity, mood as well as interpersonal relationships.
Dorsal root ganglion stimulation is indicated for treating chronic neuropathic pain from conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome and failed back surgery.
Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation is achieved with the help of a neurostimulation device that is implanted within the body. Electrodes are placed directly over the dorsal root ganglion responsible for your pain. The electrodes are connected to a battery-operated stimulation device that is implanted in the buttock, lower back or abdomen. This device sends electrical impulses which pass through the electrodes and stimulate the dorsal root ganglion to interrupt the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain. A handheld control helps regulate the intensity of the electrical impulses. Pain is often replaced with a pleasant tingling sensation called paresthesia.
After a period of recovery, you will usually be able to return home the same day. The stimulation device is programmed for ideal pain control. Your doctor will prescribe medication for pain at the incision site. The battery will need to be changed every 2-5 years.
The dorsal root ganglion can easily be accessed and targeted to treat pain from specific areas of the body. The intensity of stimulation is usually low and targets only a part of the neural network.
Risks and complications
The dorsal root ganglion stimulation device is surgically implanted which carries risks such as bleeding, infection and nerve injury.
Dorsal root ganglion stimulation offers hope to those suffering from chronic neuropathic pain which can be difficult and complicated to manage. The procedure is relatively safe with minimal side effects and is found to be very effective for pain control.