Alternative pain treatment may help with opioid epidemic

A new procedure may be the answer to pain management - and stopping the opioid epidemic.

While there is no solution in sight for the opioid epidemic plaguing the country, a doctor at Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital believes that neurostimulation surgery may be a way to help many with chronic pain avoid the little pills.

Meghan Gordon had the surgery nearly a decade ago and she said it changed her life. She described her life 10 years ago as bedridden and homebound due to her severe chronic pelvic pain.

She added that her pill intake was out of this world.

"I should be dead," Gordon said. "I was taking so many: Valium mixed with Fentanyl, morphine - you name it - I was on it."

Even all of that wasn't helping her situation - she said she was still in constant pain. Just when she thought there was no hope, fate introduced her to Dr. Giancarlo Barolat.

He's been performing neurostimulation surgery for 40 years and believes this can help the opioid problem.

“You pop the pill and it goes everywhere and to all different organs, and this procedure is more specific for the type of pain the patient is dealing with,” Barolat said.

Barolat said opioids can be addictive and harmful but this procedure is different. So instead of taking a pill every 4-6 hours, you're just hitting a button.

“I have a setting for work, a setting for church, a setting for working out, for sleep,” said Gordon.

Even though she has to take the remote everywhere, she doesn't think of it as a burden.

“It's small potatoes compared to how I lived before everything was controlled around my pain," Gordon said. Now, she in control.

“I went from living in shame - a false shame that I should have never had to live with - to living a full life,” Gordon added.

The doctor said this is not meant to treat everything: some pains that come from cancer would not be helped by neurostimulation.

There are some complications listed that can occur after the surgery. Most people use insurance to pay for the procedure, but you have to check with your carrier to see if you’re covered.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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