Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation is a type of therapy that provides relief from chronic neuropathic pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Neuropathic pain results from damage to or malfunction of nerves, which send pain signals to the brain. The peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves that lead to and from the spinal cord. If the nerves are injured, neuropathic pain may develop. Chronic neuropathic pain can be challenging to treat because it is often difficult to pinpoint the location and source of nerve damage.
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What is the dorsal root ganglion?
The dorsal root ganglion is a bundle of nerve cell bodies in the posterior region of various vertebrae along the spinal column. The primary function of the dorsal root ganglion is to transmit information regarding your senses. As such, the dorsal root ganglion carries sensory signals from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, which includes your spinal cord and brain.
DRG stimulation consists of electrical leads and an implantable pulse generator. A physician threads the electrical leads into the epidural space, where the DRG lies. Each lead contains electrode surfaces that are placed over the DRG. A pulse generator is implanted in either the upper buttock/low back, or into the abdominal wall. In the period after surgery the leads can be programmed to give stimulation based on the pain pattern. Patients go home with a small hand-held controller that switches between stimulation settings.
DRG stimulation is similar to traditional spinal cord stimulation (SCS), with one very important difference. Rather than placing leads in a general region of the spinal cord, DRG stimulation targets the specific regions of the spinal cord that are transmitting the pain and shuts down those painful signals directly by placing the leads over the DRG’s.
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