The Pathways and Processes Underlying Spinal Transmission of Low Back Pain: Observations From Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation Treatment
© 2020 International Neuromodulation Society Background: Dorsal root ganglion stimulation (DRG-S) is a novel approach to treat chronic pain. Lead placement at L2 has been reported to be an effective treatment for axial low back pain (LBP) primarily of discogenic etiology. We have recently shown, in a diverse cohort including cases of multilevel instrumentation following extensive prior back surgeries, that DRG-S lead placement at T12 is another promising target. Local effects at the T12 DRG, alone, are insufficient to explain these results. Materials and Methods: We performed a literature review to explore the mechanisms of LBP relief with T12 DRG-S. Findings: Branches of individual spinal nerve roots innervate facet joints and posterior spinal structures, while the discs and anterior vertebrae are carried via L2, and converge in the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord at T8-T9. The T12 nerve root contains cutaneous afferents from the low back and enters the DH of the spinal cord at T10. Low back Aδ and C-fibers then ascend via Lissauer's tract (LT) to T8-T9, converging with other low back afferents. DRG-S at T12, then, results in inhibition of the converged low back fibers via endorphin-mediated and GABAergic frequency-dependent mechanisms. Therefore, T12 lead placement may be the optimal location for DRG-S to treat LBP.
School of Medicine