40% of people experience pain that is disabling and often leads to anxiety, depression, and opioid addiction.
Previous research has shown that electrical stimulation is an effective treatment for pain when doctors target the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG), a bundle of nerves that carries sensory information to the spinal cord. .
However, existing DRG stimulators require invasive surgery to implant a battery pack and pulse generator. To overcome this difficulty, the researchers created a wireless, implantable nerve stimulator that could be used as an alternative to opioids for pain control.
The implantable devices are roughly the size of a grain of rice – small enough to be placed on racks and delivered in blood vessels adjacent to specific areas of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
With this new type of technology, researchers say they have found a way to perform minimally invasive bioelectrotherapy that makes implant placement more precise and results more predictable.
More long-term studies are needed to make sure the method is safe and that the device can stay in the body long-term without causing problems.