Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation Surgery to Treat Chronic Pain

Interventional Pain Management - Mercy - Baltimore

The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy offers a variety of advanced treatments to reduce or eliminate severe chronic pain resulting from disease, surgery and injury. Pain medicine specialist Dr. David Maine offers dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation to send electrical pulses in the nervous system, carefully targeting pain within specific areas of the body. 

This form of pain management can provide immediate relief as well as reduce dependence on prescription medications.

What is Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation?

Similar to spinal cord stimulation, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation is a focal pain reduction therapy in which electrical pulses are used to disrupt pain signals to the brain. 

Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation involves a minor surgical procedure in which electrical leads are inserted into the spine (via epidural techniques) and left in place along with a device to control the electrical pulses and manage pain on an ongoing basis.

Unlike spinal cord stimulation, dorsal root ganglion stimulation can be used to target a specific nerve root to affect only a particular area of the body. This technique offers the advantage of focal targeting of painful areas of the body.

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What conditions can Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation treat?

Dorsal root ganglion stimulation is used to treat severe neuropathic pain of lower limbs including that arising from complex regional pain syndrome (previously referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy).

Patients with these chronic pain conditions may experience numbness, tingling, stabbing pain, burning, aching or prickling pain in a particular area of the body. Some may experience extreme sensitivity to touch or a shooting sensation.

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How is Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation performed?

Dorsal root ganglion stimulation involves a minor surgical procedure, during which small wires are carefully inserted into the spine using fluoroscopy or MRI. The wires are connected to a small device, which is implanted in the back (similar to a pacemaker for the heart). 

Once the wires and device are in place they can be controlled by a remote to transmit low voltage electrical pulses, which interrupt pain messages traveling from the peripheral nerves to the brain. 

The electrical pulses can cause overactive neurons to return to a more settled state, resulting in a reduction in the sensation of pain within a particular area of the body.

Prior to surgical implantation of the wires and device a trial can be conducted to determine a patient's responsiveness to the therapy.