New Procedure to Treat Chronic Pain
If you live with chronic pain in your lower body, the FDA recently approved an implantable device that is offering northern Nevadans relief and hope for pain-free life. How is works in Health Watch.
"When I touch your foot, do you have any pain or discomfort whatsoever?” Dr. Denis Patterson asks during a post-operation appointment with Samantha Hines.
“No, none at all,” she answers with a smile on her face. Hines has lived with chronic pain in her lower leg for years; ever since basic training for the United States Army at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. "When I was in basic training, I broke my ankle in six places. It started out as a dull pain and then the worse it got it started getting more and more chronic." Despite injections and surgery, Hines could not escape the pain. So she met with Dr. Patterson at Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists to learn more about a brand new treatment approved by the FDA this year.
It is called Dorsal Root Ganglion or DRG Stimulation. Your DRG is basically the connection between your central and peripheral nervous systems. "So a patient has pain in their limb, that signal goes up their limb and tries to enter the spinal cord. What I'm doing is I'm actually putting a stimulus right at the junction where the two communicate and I'm turning off the signal,” explains Dr. Patterson.
He allowed us to watch the surgical procedure at Northern Nevada Medical Center. With the help of x-ray, he guides thin wires over the spinal cord - similar to traditional spinal cord stimulation. This difference, however, is this technology allows him to target specific regions in the lower body to shut down pain signals. For example, “If they have foot pain, we target L5; the lower part of the spine.” The leads are attached to an implantable stimulator that sends electric pulses to the DRG. A benefit of this procedure is patients get to test out the technology in a week-long trial ahead of surgery.
Just months removed from her operation, Hines is pain-free and active again. She manages her pain with settings on a remote control. "So if you don't want to feel the buzzing, you can turn it down." She says, "My quality of life has skyrocketed." Hines is not the only one.
Lou Istrice recently had the DRG surgery, too. He lived an active life with sports and work on his 12 acre tree farm. However, 15 years of discomfort in his lower abdomen really took a toll. "I was tired of prescription drugs." Within days of surgery, Istrice realized, “Suddenly, I didn't have any more pain!" Istrice said his life changed dramatically for the better and he now recommends the procedure to anyone who is sick of chronic pain. "Maybe you'd like to have a drug-free life and a pain-free life and that's what I have now."
To learn more about DRG Stimulation, Dr. Patterson will be on our Ask the Doctor segment on Monday, November 7 from 5 – 6 p.m. To speak with him, call (775) 858-2222. You can also learn more on Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists website: https://nvadvancedpain.com/.