As a result of a knee injury, a Sheba patient suffered from severe and debilitating chronic pain that persisted even after 5 surgeries to address the original mechanical damage done to the knee.
Traditionally, doctors have prescribed medications to treat chronic pain, including opioids, which can lead to addiction and overdose. Treatment plans for chronic pain may also include physical therapy, psychological interventions, nerve blocks, and surgery.
When these treatments fail, people with chronic pain can turn to spinal cord stimulation, a treatment that involves blocking pain signals from reaching the brain in the first place. This works by having a surgeon place a small device in your body that sends electrical signals to your spinal cord.
Although the development of traditional spinal cord stimulation was a big step forward, it still left many people without a solution to their chronic pain, so researchers turned their attention to the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), a bundle of nerves located on the outside of the spinal cord.
DRG Neurostimulator therapy involves surgically placing a stimulator that targets the dorsal root ganglion to relieve the pain of the lower limbs. To manage the stimulator, patients receive a handheld iPod controller.
“The DRG stimulator’s electrodes are very selective, which means that patients do not have to suffer from the side effects associated with spinal cord stimulation,” said Dr. Vadim Tashlykov, a senior Sheba neurologist and pain medicine specialist, who added: “The DRG stimulator is a smaller device that also allows for a more robust pain relief function.”
In the first-of-its-kind procedure in Israel – an Abbott DRG Neurostimulation System was successfully implanted in the aforementioned patient at Sheba Medical Center, finally ending years of pain and suffering.