NEW TYPE OF NERVE STIMULATION RELIEVES CHRONIC BACK PAIN
Our lawyers represent have represented hundreds of people who sustained a back injury from an accident in Minnesota. Most often, our clients have injured their back in a car accident, but we have also represented many people with a back injury from all kinds of other accidents including motorcycle accidents, slip fall, trip fall accidents, situations where an something falls and hits someone, e.g. a product on a shelf, and many other scenarios. Many times back pain from an accident can last for many months, or years, or even the rest of a person’s life. This is why our accident injury attorneys are always interested when we come across a new treatment for chronic back pain. Here is an excerpt from an article we recently came across on the Medical News Today website:
Although it often accompanies many persistent medical conditions, scientists increasingly believe that chronic pain is a “health concern on its own.” Chronic pain is pain that continues for at least 3 months. It arises when the pain signals that travel to the brain along nerve fibers persist, even though the source of the pain has disappeared. The total annual cost to the U.S. of chronic pain — including the cost of medical treatments, disability programs, and productivity loss — is estimated to be around $560 billion.
A new type of nerve stimulation therapy could provide long-term relief for chronic back pain that has not responded to other treatments, including spinal cord stimulation. It could also help certain people who need a non-drug form of pain therapy. The new therapy is called dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation, and it works by targeting only the nerve fibers carrying signals from the source of pain. Unlike spinal cord stimulation, it avoids nerve fibers that convey messages from non-painful regions. Spinal cord stimulation treatment involves implanting a small device that sends low-voltage electrical impulses along a wire placed along the spinal cord. The effect is to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
Dorsal root ganglia are clusters of nerve cells — located on each side of the spinal vertebra — that relay pain and sensory signals coming from various parts of the body to the spinal cord and brain. DRG stimulation disrupts the signals by delivering small electrical pulses through a wire placed alongside the specific DRG associated with the source of the pain. This replaces extreme pain with a more bearable sensation, such as numbness or tingling. Scientists implant the device, which looks like a small pacemaker, in the lower back under the skin. A pain specialist sets the amount of current that it delivers according to the amount of pain a person experiences.
Those who received the DRG stimulation says lead author Robert J. McCarthy, who is a professor of anesthesiology at Rush Medical College, “had tried numerous therapies, from drugs to spinal cord stimulation to surgery, but got little to no lasting pain relief.” They reported “significant improvement in pain even after a year, which is notable,” he suggests, adding that, “For most, DRG stimulation really improved their quality of life.” A summary of the research is available in the ASA abstracts archive.
The idea of DRG stimulation is attractive because, unlike spinal cord stimulation, it only targets the affected nerves. Another reason is that it requires lower levels of electrical current since less spinal fluid covers the targeted DRG than covers the spinal cord. Prof. McCarthy notes that the DRG stimulator device is not an easy option because of the difficulty involved in placing the electrodes accurately. It could be an alternative, however, for those people who have not experienced any benefit from other treatments. It could also “reduce or eliminate the need for opioids,” he concludes.
If you have a chronic back pain injury from an accident in MN, call us and speak with a lawyer for a free consultation. We will answer your questions and make sure you get the compensation for your back injury that you are entitled to.