Peripheral neuropathy is a chronic pain disorder involving physical, chemical, or metabolic damage to peripheral nerves. Its pain can be intense and disabling. Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation is an effective treatment for neuropathic pain, including cases with the limited regional distributions that often characterize peripheral neuropathy.
A retrospective analysis was completed. Patients were included on the basis of having chronic intractable peripheral neuropathy of the legs and/or feet and responding successfully to a trial of DRG stimulation with leads at L4-S1. Visual analog scale pain scores and pain medication usage were collected at the baseline visit and after six weeks of treatment. Eight consecutive patients across two study centers were included (7 male, 1 female; mean age: 64.8 ± 10.2 years). Six cases of neuropathy were bilateral and two were unilateral. One patient presented with chronic radiculopathy, two patients had neuropathy associated with diabetes, and five patients had neuropathy not associated with a diabetes history.
The pain was rated 7.38 ± 0.74 at baseline and decreased to 1.50 ± 1.31 at the 6-week follow-up, a reduction of 79.5 ± 18.8%. For individual patients, pain relief ranged from 42.86% to 100.00%; two patients experienced complete elimination of pain while seven of the eight patients experienced greater than 50% pain relief. In addition, three patients significantly decreased their pain medication use and four were able to discontinue their medications entirely.
This small multicenter retrospective case series provides preliminary evidence that the painful symptoms of general peripheral neuropathy in the lower extremities, as well as associated pain medication usage, can be effectively managed by DRG stimulation at the L4-S1 spinal level. Importantly, this treatment appears efficacious for peripheral neuropathy.