Doctor avoids opioids; uses neurotransmitter to combat pain

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Doctors are looking to overcome pain and opioid addictions with new pain management techniques.

Susan Whitmore, president and CEO of First Call, Alcohol and Drug Prevention & Recovery, says the majority of those currently addicted to opioids were initially given a prescription.

Brock Ervie is one of those examples. He was in a workplace accident in 2007 and had surgery shortly after. Since then, Ervie has suffered from pain in his legs and back. He says he was taking opioids for his chronic pain but it wasn’t helping much.

“I was addicted to pain pills because it helped me with the pain. My body actually craved it. I wasn’t addicted to it as a high,” said Ervie.

Whitmore says that addiction is something anyone can fall victim to.

“It’s very easy for any of us to get addicted to opiates if you take narcotics regularly and as prescribed over a period of two or three months,” said Whitmore.

But everything changed for Ervie eight months ago when he visited Dr. Bill Rosenberg with the Center for the Relief of Pain. Rosenberg implanted a device, known as a “Nevro HF10 Neuro Transmitter,” in his back.

“It delivers certain wave forms of electricity to the spinal cord to help eliminate back and leg pain,” Rosenberg said.

Ervie says the device has changed his life.

“I was able to sleep.I was able to walk. I was able to stand in place,” he said. “I’m standing in place right now doing this which I wouldn’t have been able to do before.”

Along with physical therapy and non-narcotic drugs, doctors are starting to use more devices like these instead of opioids.

The progress is something Whitmore commends them for.

“All those things are helping slow and hopefully help all the people that are becoming addicted,” said Whitmore.

Rosenberg says he hopes more doctors consider these devices as an option.

“I think patients should expect to at least consider them to have a physician to consider those to say if they’re appropriate rather than just go down the path of prescription after prescription,” said Rosenberg.