There are many therapies in place to help treat pain, and for many years, electrical stimulation has been used for this purpose. Neuromodulation is a fast-growing part of this treatment solution.
What Is Neuromodulation?
Neuromodulation delivers pharmaceutical or electrical agents specifically to an area of the body to affect or change nerves. It can be used to relieve pain, but it can also treat and stimulate nerves that are not working. This can reduce symptoms or even get specific systems of the body moving and working again.
The most recent advances allow nerves to be controlled by devices, which may eventually allow people to send messages from the brain to limbs and allow prosthetics to move more like actual limbs.
How Does Neuromodulation Work?
Neuromodulation works in two ways. In one form of therapy, pharmaceutical agents are delivered to a specific area to get a response in that one target without affecting the whole body and needing to be metabolized. In another form, specific nerves are actively stimulated so they manifest a response.
Neuromodulation involves applying a pulse generator to apply electrodes to a specific nerve or to the brain. A power source offers the needed electricity for a current to move to the nerve and provoke a response, such as stopping a pain signal or another unwanted response.
Types of Neuromodulation
Neuromodulation is not just one treatment. Rather, it comprises many different solutions, including:
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation: Peripheral nerves are in your spinal cord and brain and make up your nervous system. When these nerves are damaged, they can cause pain. This form of neuromodulation delivers stimulation right to these nerves, disrupting the pain signal and reducing pain. This form of treatment may be effective for neuralgia and many other types of pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation: In this treatment, patients are given local anesthesia, and an electrode delivers a stimulus to an affected nerve of part of the body. Patients stay alert and can even control the process with a stimulator. Spinal cord stimulation can be a solution for chronic pain, nerve pain and problems after spinal surgery.
DRG Stimulation: Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation is an option for treating different types of pain. The DRG is a nerve cell cluster that communicates between your brain, your spinal cord and your limbs. Located between two discs in the back, this cluster of nerve cells can become damaged, and this can lead to hard-to-treat, chronic pain. DRG stimulation can disrupt the pain signals being sent by the body to the brain, leading to less pain without invasive procedures or strong pharmaceuticals.
Who Can Benefit?
Patients who are dealing with chronic pain can benefit from neuromodulation. Neuromodulation is also used to treat Parkinson’s incontinence, mobility issues, epilepsy, some psychiatric disorders, hearing impairment, vision impairment, cardiovascular conditions, gastrointestinal issues and more.
If you are in pain and are wondering whether this minimally-invasive treatment may be right for you, contact Spine Institute of North America to speak to our team to find out whether you may be a candidate for this type of treatment.