Dorsal Root Ganglion

dorsal root ganglion Treatment Texas

Even the slightest back or hip or leg pain can feel like it’s never going to get better, and that you’ll never get back to running or sitting comfortably or swimming. That’s most often not the case, as the pain does subside. However, when it doesn’t, it’s life altering and mind consuming for the patient. For the provider, it’s also highly difficult to treat, and when treatment methods prove futile, it’s frustrating for both parties. With a dorsal root ganglion, now the patient can finally find relief from hard-to-treat conditions that have led to months or years of chronic pain felt in the extremities. The Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City and Houston areas can treat even the seemingly undiagnosable pain symptoms and provide extended relief. Experience relief with advanced dorsal root ganglion Treatment in Texas.

What is a Dorsal Root Ganglion?

Also known as dorsal root ganglion stimulation, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) is a relatively new pain management treatment option that has been proven helpful for offering pain relief for patients suffering from chronic and not easily controlled pain conditions.  

The dorsal root ganglia are nerve structures located in and along the spine. Each structure contains primary sensory neurons that are responsible for pain signaling. They direct and regulate what sensations are passed to the brain. Each dorsal root ganglia structure is responsible for sensations in a particular part or section of the body. These sensations are felt and understood by the brain, with the help of the ganglia. 

How dorsal root ganglion stimulation works is by targeting the nerves in the specific dorsal root ganglia that is believed to be causing the pain sensations in the specific area or areas of the body. This is a customized, targeted approach that aims at specific nerves with a goal to treat those nerves, versus a systemic approach that doesn’t tend to work well for complex pain cases.  

The dorsal root ganglion stimulation works by implanting a device under the skin close to the dorsal root ganglion, using a mild electrical current that effectively replaces the pain sensations being sent to the brain with a buzzing sensation. 

The three most common complex pain conditions where dorsal root ganglion stimulation has proven incredibly effective are complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), post-amputation pain, and failed back surgery syndrome. 

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Both very difficult to diagnose and very difficult to treat, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a condition that dorsal root ganglion is effectively able to treat. 

It is generally felt in the upper and lower extremities, and the main symptom is pain that is described as both continuous and intense. Additional symptoms can include:

Due to the fact that not much is known about CRPS, systemic approaches like blocks and medications continue to fail even in the best attempts of providing long-term relief. Dorsal root ganglion stimulation has proven to provide both short- and long-term pain relief. 

Post-Amputation Pain

Limb loss through surgical amputation is one of the most severe pain sensations that a person reports experiencing. The majority of patients who have an amputation report feeling causalgia, which is a type of debilitating pain that is felt even after the limb has been removed. The reason why dorsal root ganglion is so helpful for this condition is that it targets pain in the extremities. Amputee patients experience great pain relief, without the replacement of any other sensations as well. 

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)

Imagine trying all conservation methods to treat your chronic back pain, only to finally decide to have invasive back surgery. On top of that, imagine still having the same pain symptoms even after your completed surgery. This is an incredibly frustrating situation for both the patient and the provider, but thankfully dorsal root ganglion stimulation can help. By stopping the transmission of pain sensations from reaching the brain from the specific nerves sending them, the vast majority of patients are able to finally find the relief they’ve been missing. 

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What’s the Difference Between Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation and Spinal Cord Stimulation?

While both options use electrical stimulation to replace pain feelings with tingling or buzzing sensations, there are several main differences. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) works by placing a device into the epidural space of the spine. This method does help to provide widespread relief for several painful conditions, but it does not focus on one specific set of nerves. The device can also shift, which makes it ineffective at providing the current, thus allowing for pain sensations to be felt. 

What makes dorsal root ganglion stimulation so helpful for specific pain conditions is that it targets the specific nerves that SCS does not reach. The device is also unlikely to shift, meaning that pain relief is continuous. 

What Does the Dorsal Root Ganglion Procedure Involve?

There are two parts to the dorsal root ganglion procedure: the trial period and, if successful, the permanent device. Both are performed as an out-patient procedure, meaning that the patient is able to return home the same day. 

Under light anesthesia, the provider will implant trial stimulator leads into the epidural space, specifically targeting the dorsal ganglion root that is believed to house the nerves causing the chronic pain. Once the leads are in place, the patient will/should feel a tingling sensation that replaced the pain sensation. 

The trial period can last up to a week, during which point the patient is able to both control the level of stimulation via an external device, as well as monitor how well the stimulation works at remedying pain. The patient is instructed to resume normal activities during this time, but not to overextend themselves. 

If the level of pain has greatly diminished, the provider and patient will move forward with the permanent device. The procedure is then repeated, however the device battery is implanted in either the buttock or the abdomen, and the unit is still controlled by the patient externally. 

The entire final procedure should take an hour, and the surgical wound heal time is two to three months. During this time period, however, patients can expect to experience a significant level of pain reduction, as well as a complete increase in their quality of life. 

If you are suffering with chronic pain in your extremities and haven’t found relief with other treatment methods, dorsal root ganglion stimulation could be your solution. Please schedule an appointment with the Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City and Houston areas today so that we may answer all your questions and determine if you’re a candidate. 


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