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St. Luke’s among first to use new procedure for chronic pain

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Doctors at St. Luke’s University Health Network are among the first health care providers in the country to use a new, groundbreaking procedure to alleviate chronic pain.

The procedure, called Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation, was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in April 2016.

“The success rates we’re having are near 80 percent complete pain relief,” said Dr. Steven Falowski, a neurosurgeon at St. Luke’s Spine & Pain Associates in South Whitehall Township, who was one of only six surgeons in the country initially selected and trained to perform the surgery.

The procedure targets specific sensory nerve cell bodies on the spinal cord to provide relief for patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in the lower body, particularly the foot, knee and groin.

Dr. Farooq A. Qureshi of St. Luke’s Spine & Pain Associates in South Whitehall Township were among the first doctors in the United States to be trained in DRG stimulation.

Patients use a handheld remote control that allows them to adjust the strength of electric current after a small non-rechargeable generator has been surgically implanted into the spine during an outpatient procedure.

Falowski, who has performed more than 40 DRG stimulation implant procedures, said DRG stimulation is among the fastest-growing areas of neuroscience.

Dr. Farooq A. Qureshi of St. Luke’s Spine & Pain Associates, who has also been trained and performed the procedure, said patients who suffer from chronic pain often lose hope they will get relief.

“Procedures like DRG stimulation are going to transform the future for the treatment of chronic pain,” Qureshi said.

“It also enables us to provide relief without opioids and other expensive and potentially addicting narcotics.”

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