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Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation is the newest technology and treatment available in the United States to those who are still experiencing pain after an injury or surgical procedure.

Answering common questions about DRG Stimulation Therapy


Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation is a new and proven effective treatment option available to patients living with chronic lower body pain in their groin, hips, knees, and feet. Many patients who are good candidates for DRG therapy have tried other pain treatments and chronic pain therapies without success. Many people suffering with chronic pain have not heard of this option. Naturally, they have questions. Here are answers to many of the most common questions we receive about Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation therapy.


What is the Dorsal Root Ganglion and what does it do?


The Dorsal Root Ganglion is a small bundle of nerves that plays a part in the process of delivering pain messages to the brain. DRG decides when sensations flow up into your spinal cord, functioning like a dam controlling the flow of water. Each vertebra in the spine is connected to a Dorsal Root Ganglion nerve bundle. 

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What does DRG stimulation do?


Pain signals traveling to the brain from the affected area are “blocked,” so that those specific pain signals do not reach the brain. Instead of chronic pain, the patient may feel a range of sensations from a minor tingling feeling to no sensation of pain at that spot.


How does DRG stimulation work?


Specialized medical equipment is inserted under the skin into the spine. This equipment includes a lead, which is implanted on the affected nerve, as well as a battery, which is implanted under the skin in the abdomen, usually just above the hip or on the upper part of the buttocks. The battery sends a mild electrical impulse through the lead into a DRG nerve bundle, effectively “blocking” the pain signal.


Why does DRG stimulation therapy help reduce pain?


Because DRG therapy targets the nerve bundles through which specific pain signals pass, stimulation can be focused on those specific pain points. This stops certain pain signals without disrupting sensation elsewhere in the body.


Which conditions has DRG stimulation helped?


DRG therapy has helped patients with a wide variety of chronic pain, especially patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Chronic Focal Pain Syndrome (CFPS).


Will DRG stimulation cure my pain?


DRG stimulation offers therapeutic relief. It will not cure the underlying cause of the pain. The exact amount of pain reduction depends on the individual case, although there are some things patients can do to increase the potential effectiveness of the therapy. Your doctor will discuss these options with you.


What causes of pain are treated with DRG therapy?


Patients experiencing pain after an amputation, as well as patients suffering from certain pain disorders including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Chronic Focal Pain Syndrome (CFPS), or Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) have experienced good results through DRG stimulation.


How will DRG stimulation affect my daily life?


Patients have reported that a noticeable reduction in pain significantly increased their everyday quality of life. Most people return to their normal daily activities, doing all the things they enjoy with much less pain.


Who is a good candidate for DRG stimulation?


Patients who benefit most from Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation therapy have experienced chronic pain for at least six months, especially those who are suffering with isolated chronic pain in the lower body (groin, hip, knee, or foot). This pain is often associated with an injury or following a surgical procedure.


Before recommending DRG stimulation therapy, a licensed physician will conduct a patient assessment that will include a brief questionnaire about the patient’s medical history and the nature of their pain, as well as a physical examination to make sure the patient is healthy enough for the procedure. The doctor may also recommend an MRI scan to help with diagnosis and to determine best treatment options. After this assessment, the doctor will discuss all the patient’s pain treatment options, including DRG therapy, if applicable.


What happens during the DRG procedure?


The patient is given a local anesthetic where the electrodes will be placed, as well as sedation medicine that will cause drowsiness. The patient will still be awake and able to speak during the procedure. The electrode that delivers the pain-relieving pulse is inserted using a hollow epidural needle. Then, the electrode is tested while the patient is awake and alert, so the patient knows it is working. Once the electrode has been tested, a very small incision will be made to place the battery and wires.


How long will relief from DRG therapy last?


Because the signals sent through the leads into the nerve bundles only require very small amounts of energy, the specialized medical devices will work for a long time before needing to be replaced. Different versions offer different time frames. Ask your doctor about the specific model they recommend.


What if DRG stimulation doesn’t work?


The vast majority of patients experience significantly reduced pain thanks to DRG stimulation therapy. A long-term study concluded that 8 out of 10 people experienced reduced pain, many reporting that their pain level was down more than 80 percent. However, we’re all different, and the fact is, DRG stimulation does not offer the same level of pain relief to every patient. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this chronic pain therapy option does not cause permanent changes, does not damage the nerves, and can be reversed. So, if DRG stimulation isn’t helping, your physician will remove the specialized equipment and discuss other potential pain relief options.


If you are interested in learning more about Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation, or in learning if DRG therapy may be the best treatment for your pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Skaliy today.






Complex Focal Pain Syndrome: An Unusual Variant of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Monitoring, 2020: Bui, R; Coffman, J; Berry, A; and Faillace, J.


Dorsal root ganglion stimulation yielded higher treatment success rate for complex regional pain syndrome, 2017: Deer, T; Levy, R; Kramer, J; et al.


St. Jude Medical™ Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulation System Clinician's Manual. Plano, TX.

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