What is DRG Stimulation?
Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation is an FDA-approved pain management therapy that uses mild electric pulses to stimulate the DRG. The dorsal root ganglion is a densely-packed cluster where nerves begin to branch off from the spine.
The DRG stimulation system is composed of two parts – a small implantable battery and a pair of thin leads with electrodes on the ends. The leads are placed next to the nerves associated with your pain and then connected to the battery. The battery emits mild electric pulses which “stimulate” the nerves. This stimulation interrupts pain signals before they reach your brain, providing pain relief.
DRG stimulation targets “hard-to-reach” nerves that can cause peripheral nerve pain, such as pain in the feet, legs, and arms.
Who is a candidate for DRG Stimulation?
You may be a good candidate for DRG stimulation if any of the following applies to you:
- You are experiencing chronic pain in the feet, arms, legs, or groin
- Previous therapy and treatment for this pain have been unsuccessful
DRG stimulation is a particularly effective treatment for common conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), phantom limb pain, and pain caused by failed joint replacement surgery.
Before the permanent battery is implanted, a DRG stimulation trial will be performed to assess the effectiveness of the treatment.
What can I expect during the trial?
You will receive sedation through an IV prior to the procedure. You will be brought into the procedure room and laid on your stomach on a special table. Your skin will be cleaned at the injection sites and a local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. Under x-ray, the physician will use a small needle to place the temporary leads for the DRG along the area of your spinal cord associated with your pain. Once the leads are placed, they will be connected to an external battery and covered by a large bandage. You will get to go home and use the DRG stimulator in your daily life for one week.
You will return to the clinic one week following your lead placement to have the leads removed by a nurse. At this time, you will discuss the amount of pain relief you received during the trial. If you decide to pursue a permanent, implanted system, we will submit to your insurance company for authorization.
What can I expect during the implant surgery?
Prior to the implant surgery, you will need to obtain a preoperative history and physical evaluation. You will also need to have a implant education appointment with your Twin Cities Pain Clinic provider. You will receive sedation through an IV prior to the procedure. Our staff will then bring you into the operating room and lay you on your stomach on a special table. Your skin will be prepped and cleaned prior to any incisions being made. Under x-ray, the physician will use a small needle to place the permanent leads for the DRG along the area of your spinal cord associated with your pain. Once the leads are placed, they will be connected to an internally placed battery, located most commonly in the upper buttock. The procedure is a minimally invasive, outpatient surgery and you should plan to be at the surgery center for 3-4 hours.
What can I expect after the surgery?
You will receive an antibiotic to prevent infection. You will then be brought to the patient recovery area and monitored until your anesthesia wears off. There are certain activities you should avoid for 6-8 weeks after the surgery to prevent movement of the implanted leads. These include bending at the waist, twisting, reaching overhead, and lifting more than 5 pounds.
You will return to the clinic 3-4 days after the surgery. A nurse who will examine your incision site and a representative from the device company will turn on the device and program it. At this time you will also be cleared to shower.
Afterward, all that’s left to do is enjoy your new-found pain relief!
All four of our highly skilled physicians are specially trained and certified to perform DRG stimulation procedures.
To learn more or schedule an initial consult, click below.