AUSTIN (KXAN) — Millions of people in the United States suffer daily from chronic pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, low back pain is the most common condition for which opioids are prescribed.
An Austin doctor is using technology that claims to block your brain from feeling chronic pain and lessen the dependence on opioids. It’s called the Stimwave Freedom SCS System — a Spinal Cord Stimulation device the company calls the world’s smallest wireless system of its kind.
The wireless device is implanted in your back or anywhere you feel pain like your knee through the lumen of a standard gauge needle, without surgery and uses local anesthesia. Dr. Matt Schocket of Capital Pain Institute in North Austin uses the device on some of his patients. He implants it near the nerve site causing the patient pain. “What happens is these will send an electrical signal to that nerve blocking that nerve signal from reaching the brain,” he said.
The patient or the doctor then controls the intensity of the pain blocker through an external battery they can clip onto clothing. The wearable antenna can even be controlled through the patient’s smartphone using an App.
“What this allows us to do is either prevent people from ever taking opioids or significantly reduce their doses,” explains Dr. Schocket. He says his practice has treated thousands of patients in chronic pain over the years and says the Stimwave has helped some people reduce their pain by 50-70%.
Dr. Schocket says his patients are looking for functional improvement with the device. “What I hear are stories of things people are able to do again, I have one patient send me a video of them wakeboarding. That’s awesome but it’s usually as simple as I was able to sit down for dinner with my wife, kids or grandkids and not be miserable the entire time.”
While Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) devices have been used for chronic pain relief for more than 40 years, this latest device is smaller and wireless.
Dr. Schocket says it is covered under insurance.