Chronic pain is a debilitating condition, no matter where it strikes. If you suffer from severe, chronic pain, you need a medical team who understands your need for relief and has an array of techniques to address your specific needs. At the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program, our team delivers the most compassionate, experienced surgical care in Los Angeles and Southern California. We work collaboratively with other pain management doctors to offer specialized surgical procedures for pain.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is an umbrella term for many types of persistent pain that are resistant to most treatments. Unlike other types of pain, chronic pain is not a symptom of another problem or injury, such as a broken bone. There is often no physical cause or diagnosis.
Types of chronic pain include:
- Failed Back Syndrome
- Brachial Plexopathy
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Headache and Facial Pain
Surgical treatment options for chronic pain at UCLA
Chronic pain may not respond to medications and traditional treatments, but there are a few specialized surgical options available for some patients.
- Deep Brain Stimulation: Electrodes are implanted deep inside the brain to change irregular brain activity.
- Motor Cortex Stimulation: Electrodes are implanted on the surface of the brain to control pain signals.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation: Electrodes are implanted on the spinal cord to control pain signals.
- Peripheral Nerve Stimulation: Electrodes are implanted directly on nerves or under the skin in the region of pain.
- Nerve decompression: The nerves that may be causing certain types of chronic pain (e.g., facial pain or migraines) are decompressed.
- Cingulotomy: Using focused lasers, a small targeted lesion (tissue change) is created in the part of the brain that is associated with the suffering component of pain. This is often used to treat cancer pain or any other type of chronic pain.
- Dorsal root entry zone lesioning (DREZ): Creating a focused lesion where the nerves emerge from the back of the spinal cord. This is most often used for brachial plexus injuries.
- Cordotomy: Using a minimally invasive image-guided needle, a targeted lesion is created in the spine to treat pain on one side of the body. This is most often used for pain related to cancer.
- Radiosurgical Hypophysectomy: Focused radiation is used to treat the pituitary gland without the need for an incision or anesthesia. This is most often used for patients with cancer-related pain near the end-of-life.
Deep brain stimulation is an off-label procedure for treating chronic pain. That means it is not yet FDA-approved.
Clinical trials for chronic pain at UCLA
Our program actively participates and develops new therapies and trials for patients with chronic pain, including deep-brain and peripheral-nerve stimulation.
For more information, please call 310-825-5111.
Learn more about our surgical treatments.