Opioid fears? New tech may be replacing the need for the addicting drugs

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LEBANON, Ind. -- As the opioid epidemic continues to grip the United States, some patients are saying, "No" to the pain relievers all together, so what can people do as an alternative? New technology is stopping pain at the source.

Doctors in Lebanon are using a device called Stim Wave to treat pain. The implant is the size of a tube and uses electric impulses to block pain signals to the brain. Doctors have been using implants like this for decades, but never this small. The old ones were about the size of a lighter, and all too often caused pain themselves once they were implanted. This new tech sends radio signals to the device to make it work.

“I have had patients who have a history of addiction, who said I don't want to take opioids. I know what it does,” said Dr. Vinayak Belamkar, a pain medicine doctor at Witham Health Services.

Rick Maggart came in to have a second implant put in this week. He said the procedure was less than thirty minutes. Dr. Belamkar said Maggart was going about his usual business the next day.

“It gets rid of the pain, so I don't have to take pain medicine," Maggart said.

Dr. Belamkar says older devices needed to be changed every five to ten years for updates or issues. Every time this had to be done, the device had to be removed through additional surgeries. All updates to Stim Wave can be done through software changes, making it more reasonable for patients seeking opioid alternatives.

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