YOUR HEALTH: A stimulating way to relieve chronic pain

LOS ANGELES, California – Chronic pain affects 30% of people in America.

That’s one reason for the explosion in opioid abuse and addiction.

Now there’s a new neuro-stimulator called the HF 10 and it’s dramatically reduced pain for people like Alisha Constancio.

A car accident left her with chronic pain and headaches.

“I couldn’t even dress myself or shower without having or experiencing a flare up or severe pain,” said Constancio.

Constancio was on four drugs and tried other treatments, but her life was still dominated by pain.

Then, Dr. Vernon Williams, director of Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medication at Kerlan-Jobe Institute, told her about the HF-10 neurostimulator, an implanted device that sends high frequency pulses to nerves through wires near the spine.

Where's the nearest physician using a HF-10 neurostimulator?

“Potentially, you can turn up or turn down certain signals, turn off certain pain signals and give significant improvement of pain without the need for opioids or other medications,” Dr. Williams said.

Dr. Williams says the HF-10 uses high frequency, eliminating a side effect of other neurostimulators.

“What that means for the individual is that when they have that stimulator on, and it’s covering an area where they have pain, they don’t feel paresthesia, meaning they don’t feel tingling or buzzing, any kind of uncomfortable sensation,” Dr. Willams explained.

80% of patients in a clinical trial reported losing at least half their pain.

And it seems to last.

Alisha controls the pulses with a remote, depending on her pain level.

“I hardly experience pain or I hardly notice it, which is good enough for me,” Constancio said.

NEW ALTERNATIVE:   Dr. Vernon Williams says the HF 10 stimulator falls under the category of neuromodulation, where stimuli are applied to parts of the nervous system to affect pain.   The device is implanted in an hour long minor surgical procedure.  Dr. Williams said, “Eighty percent or more of individuals who have this kind of technology implanted have significant long-term benefit.”

Before they get the HF-10 implanted, patients get a temporary version of it, to make sure it works.

The HF-10 is good for folks with moderate to severe back or leg pain they’ve had for more than three months.

They also need to have tried other treatment like medications or physical therapy first.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.