Dorsal root ganglion stimulation for painful small fiber neuropathy: A case report

Paolo Maino, Eva Koetsier*, Alain Kaelin-Lang, Claudio Gobbi, Roberto Perez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Small fiber neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves with typical symptoms of burning, sharp, and shooting pain and sensory disturbances in the feet. Pain treatment depends principally on the underlying etiology with concurrent administration of antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, and topical treatments like capsaicin and local anesthetics. However, treatments for pain relief in these patients frequently fail. We describe the first case of intractable painful small fiber neuropathy of the foot successfully treated with spinal cord stimulation of the left L5 dorsal root ganglion. A 74-year-old man presented at our clinic with severe intractable pain, dysesthesia, and allodynia of the left foot caused by idiopathic small fiber neuropathy, confirmed by skin biopsy. His pain score was 8 on a standard 0 – 10 numeric rating scale. As the pain was not satisfactorily controlled by conventional therapy, dorsal root ganglion stimulation was proposed to the patient and, after informed consent, a specifically designed percutaneous stimulation lead was placed over the left L5 dorsal root ganglion and connected to an external neurostimulator. After a positive trial of 10 days, a permanent neurostimulator was implanted. Twenty months post-implantation the patient continued to experience stimulation-induced paresthesia covering the entire pain area and reported a pain rating of 4. Results from the case report demonstrate that the dorsal root ganglion is a promising neural stimulation target to treat neuropathic pain due to intractable small fiber neuropathy. Prospective controlled studies are warranted to confirm the efficacy of this treatment as an option for the aforementioned condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E459-E463
JournalPain Physician
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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