Colorado Springs surgeon reducing chronic pain and opioid dependence


Chronic pain is described as any pain lasting more than six months, and for millions of people across the U.S., it’s most common in the back and legs. This is why Dr. Roger Sung, an orthopedic spine surgeon with Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group, is implanting the Nevro HF10 therapy device through spinal cord stimulation surgery. 

“HF10” stands for high frequency pulsation at 10,000 hertz. The idea is to relieve pain and dependence on opioids.

Chronic pain and pain med addiction are two major problems in America which often go hand-in-hand. Pain management is not just a public health issue, but a financial one as well, costing more than $660 billion every year in the U.S.

As for the prescribed medications, they can become a deadly situation, with an opioid connection to more than 42,000 deaths in 2017, at a rate of more than 91 overdose deaths each day. In Colorado, the death rate was most recently almost six people out of every 100,000.

Some insurance companies are refusing coverage for high-dose prescriptions. 

“Most patients see overall 60 to 70 percent improvement in their pain reduction, and for a lot of those that translates to a dramatic decrease in their need for narcotics,” Sung said. “Some patients are completely off them when they use this device, and some of them even notice it in the trial.”

A trial study is how patients are considered for this FDA-approved treatment, which is having positive results for those chosen. Once diagnosed, discussed, and decided by patients and their medical professionals, a temporary device is implanted for about five days. Whether or not the patient gets a permanent device is based on how well they react during the trial period, although the temporary device must come out regardless of the final decision.

The 45-minute procedure places a lead directly on the spinal cord which connects to a 10 year battery, and over time it scars down to the spinal cord so it doesn’t move.

The electric current provided alters pain pathways, and changes the way patients perceive pain. Sung said the idea has been around for years, but over the years technology and programming have become so much more sophisticated, and the results are significantly better. These new developments are why it’s having improved success.

Patients claim pain reduction, opioid independence, and a better overall outlook physically, psychologically and emotionally. The results show that HF10 spinal cord stimulation surgery is not just changing, but also saving, lives in southern Colorado.

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