Doctor examining knee of patient

What Is Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation?

Finding innovative solutions for stubborn chronic pain is at the forefront of what we do here at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. One cutting-edge option offered by our doctors is dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation.

Used to alleviate persistent pain in lower regions of the body, this groundbreaking treatment can deliver life-changing results for certain patient populations. Here’s a closer look at what the treatment involves.

What Does the DRG Stimulation Procedure Entail?

DRG stimulation is a form of neuromodulation, a technique that alters nerve activity to alleviate pain. This particular procedure focuses on the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), a group of densely populated nerves that run along the spinal column, regulating pain signals via nerve fibers.

There are various DRGs positioned along the spine, each of which corresponds with different areas of the body. DRG stimulation therapy can pinpoint pain in these specific areas. Common pain sites targeted by the treatment are the groin, hip, knee, or foot.

There are several components of DRG stimulation therapy, including:

  • The generator, a small, battery-operated device which is implanted in the body and sends out electrical pulses
  • Thin wires which are placed near the affected DRG to deliver electrical pulses from the generator
  • A controller which allows the patient to adjust the level of stimulation or turn it on and off as needed

The Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulator System which our doctors provide even allows patients to cycle through various programs and upgrade technology as it improves by receiving software updates. This means patients can continue to benefit from advancements without the need for further procedures.

To assess whether DRG stimulation therapy will be effective, the implantation of the device may start with a trial placement. In this process, leads for the trial stimulator will be temporarily implanted through the skin via needle insertion into the epidural space. If after several days the trial proves to be successful, a permanent stimulator can be implanted via two small incisions. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis under conscious sedation and takes roughly 30 to 40 minutes to complete.

Who Is a Good Candidate?

Chronic pain can be particularly difficult to treat in certain areas of the body. Regions such as the foot, knee, groin, or hip can experience lingering pain following an injury or surgical procedure. When suffering doesn’t subside after other therapies have been tried, patients may become good candidates for DRG stimulation.

Specifically, patients who have the following symptoms may be most likely to benefit from the treatment:

  • Pain that has lasted at least six months
  • Pain that’s isolated to a specific region, such as the knee, hip, groin, or foot
  • Pain that hasn’t responded well from previous pain management techniques, which may include nerve blocks, traditional neurostimulation, or even surgery

DRG stimulation is a cutting-edge procedure, and there are still relatively few pain management specialists who offer the treatment. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers doesn’t just offer this technique; we have multiple doctors who specialize in it.

If you think you could benefit from DRG stimulation or any of the other pain relief therapies we offer, contact our office online to schedule a consultation, or call 770-929-9033.