Tyler, TX — There is an opioid crisis in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2016 alone over 42,000 people died from an opioid overdose.
It's caused many to look at other ways of treating pain - including long-term, chronic pain.
Dr. Aaron Calodney with Precision Spine Care has worked with thousands of people over the last 25 years who suffer from chronic back pain. He says one type of treatment includes spinal cord stimulation therapy.
This type of therapy has been going on for years.
Nevro, a company that specializes in treatments for chronic pain has designed High Frequency 10 (HF10), which has made it's way to the United States in the last two-three years.
HF10 is the latest technology in SCS therapy.
"It is pain relief that's coming from electricity," Dr. Calodney. "It's really robust in regards to the types of pain it can be used for."
The implant sends small amounts of electricity to the nervous system that then blocks the pain signal for reaching the brain.
According to Calodney, it's pain relief without the side effects and without an opioid addiction problem.
East Texas has high numbers of opioid prescriptions written per 100 people, according to the East Texas Abuse Coalition, with Gregg county being one of the highest in the state of Texas.
With this type of treatment, many patients who suffer from chronic back pain only take over-the-counter painkillers from time-to-time instead of being on prescription pain meds.
"Patients can stop taking their opioid's to a large extent," Dr. Calodney said.
For Tim Smith, the implant has helped where back surgery has not.
"I took some pretty good tumbles and falls throughout the year," Smith has worked in construction his entire life. "Damaged my lower back to where I was miserable."
He first went to the doctor for back pain in 2000.
He's received physical therapy, injections, and four back surgeries.
When none of them worked long-term, Dr. Calodney recommended HF10. Smith was one of he first in the United States to have the procedure done.
He says it's the best decision he could have made.
"I'm 85%-90% pain free, 24/7," he said after. "15 years of on and off misery."