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Doctor: Wireless pain relief device may help opioid crisis

Wireless spinal cord stimulation system
Posted: 9:08 PM, May 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-20 12:06:55-04
Freedom Spinal Cord Stimulation System

TUCSON, Ariz. — A wireless spinal cord simulation system has been helping patients relieve chronic pain.

The Freedom Spinal Cord Simulation System, created by Stimwave, is a small wireless device to help reduce pain in patients.

"The implant procedure is as minimally invasive as you get for a spinal cord simulator system, because we don't need to implant the battery with this system," Doctor Chad Pletnick with the Arizona Pain Care Center said.

Prior spinal cord simulator systems required the battery be inserted with it. This device works by sending electrical signals into the spinal cord and disrupting pain signals to then help relieve pain.

"It's a way that we can take care of pain without having to use opioid medication, which have their own side effects and problems," Pletnick said.

According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2017, almost 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

This can help chronic pain patients as an alternative to opioids.

Pletnick was the first doctor to try this procedure in Tucson. He said this can help with pain in almost any part of the body.

Sometimes chronic pain patients can experience the pain for years.

"That pain would shoot up my back, and it would constantly get me to bend over to stretch and make it go away," Norman B. Nestlerode, Dr. Pletnick's patient, said.

Nestlerode said he got the pain from working as a police officer for 40 years. He tried surgery first to relieve the pain, but when that didn't work, he got referred to Dr. Pletnick, who suggested this procedure. He got it done in February.

"All the things I was doing, that I wasn't able to do, I'm doing again.," Nestlerode said.

Dr. Pletnick said he's been using this device since 2017 and will keep using it as the success continues.