Medical Implants to Fight Pain Could Solve America’s Opioid Addiction

Neurostimulation devices are a non-addictive alternative for pain treatment.

August 1, 2017 5:00 am
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A high-tech form of pain treatment is a shocking alternative to attractive opioids.

New medical devices that use a technique called neurostimulation could be a non-addictive way to provide pain relief, which sends a mild electric current target to the nerve fibers where a patient has discomfort.

Scientists think the electrical current disrupts the pain signals being sent back to the brain. The device, which is implanted into the patient, is a drug-free alternative and can even lessen the pain caused by opioid withdrawal, MIT Technology Review reports.

While America’s pain levels have remained the same since 1999, the CDC says opioid use has tripled by 2015. Over two million people abused prescription pain relievers. As addiction to opioids like fentanyl surges, the medical community has been scrambling to find ways to treat pain without the addictive prescription pills.

The first neurostimulation device was approved in 1989, but the surgically-implanted devices have shrunk in recent years because of technology advances, according to MIT Technology Review. In many cases, patients stop taking pain medication once they’ve started using the neurostimulation devices. More cautious patients can try out a non-invasive form of the treatment before going under the knife.

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