What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a little-understood condition that usually causes symptoms in your arm or legs. It is a taxing pain condition which can cause issues like extreme sensitivity to touch, burning or throbbing pain, swelling in the painful area, and changes in the feel and appearance of your skin. While CRPS can develop after a traumatic injury, it can also manifest after minor injuries or health incidents, such as stroke, heart attack, or surgery.
If you’re living with unexplained pain in a limb or pain that is out of proportion with the initial injury, you could be suffering from CRPS. Because CRPS is often misunderstood, it can be a very difficult condition to adequately treat. However, our providers at Louisiana Pain Specialists are experts at CRPS treatment and they are using the most cutting-edge, minimally invasive therapies to successfully treat this condition.
What is Dorsal Root Ganglion Therapy for CRPS?
Just like any treatment of a pain condition, our providers at Louisiana Pain Specialists will first attempt to treat your CRPS pain with more traditional therapies, including physical therapy, medication management, and even possible nerve blocks. However, when more traditional methods fail, we may consider a more advanced, minimally-invasive treatment called dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy.
DRG stimulation therapy works by stimulating dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). These are structures along the spinal column made up of densely populated sensory nerves, and they act like traffic lights, regulating signals and sensations that travel through nerve fibers along the spinal column to the brain.
Because the spinal column has a many different DRGs, each of which is associated with different areas of the body, DRG stimulation therapy can target the DRG that is associated with the specific area of the body where a patient experiences pain. In this way, DRG therapy has the unique ability to help manage pain in targeted parts of the body where pain occurs and is especially helpful for patients who live with isolated chronic pain in the lower parts of the body, such as the knee, groin, or even a single toe. With CRPS, DRG Therapy works to decrease the hypersensitivity within the nerve cells that causes the severe pain associated with CRPS. This process normalizes the patient’s pain sensations. Just like all of the evidence-based medicine we employ at Louisiana Pain Specialists, DRG Therapy has proven to be very successful in pain reduction for patients with CRPS
The DRG stimulation therapy system is made up of parts that are designed to work together to help you manage your pain:
- Generator: A small device that sends out mild electrical pulses and that contains a battery. This is implanted in your body.
- Leads: Thin insulated wires that carry the electrical pulses from the generator to your dorsal root ganglia. These are placed in your body in the area of the DRG.
- Patient controller: A handheld “remote control” that allows you to adjust the strength and location of stimulation or even turn stimulation off
The implantation process for the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulator is very similar to the implantation of a typical SCS. Like the typical SCS, the implantation of a DRG stimulator begins with a trial. After a 5-7 trial, you and your doctor will decide if the trial was successful based on your pain relief and then may decide to proceed with permanent implantation of the DRG generator device. Both the trial and the implantation are considered minimally-invasive treatments with short-recovery times and potentially immediate pain relief.
If you think you are suffering from CRPS or if you have tried and failed other traditional methods of treatment for your CRPS, contact Louisiana Pain Specialists today to consult with our expert providers at one of our locations in Metairie, Kenner, Laplace, Marrero, Baton Rouge, New Orleans East, or Uptown New Orleans.