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Specialized medical procedure available in Colorado serves as alternative to opioids

Pain relief without the use of drugs? There's a procedure that may be the answer for you
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Posted at 3:38 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 07:21:02-04

DENVER -- Chronic pain affects millions of people across the globe. For some, addictive drugs have been the only solution to any kind of relief.

There is a medical procedure that has been available for years that people still don't know about, and it's available in Colorado.

Dr. Giancarlo Barolat practices at Presbyterian St. Lukes in Denver. He specializes in implanting spinal cord stimulators.

The stimulator consists of a microchip that is implanted directly onto a person's nervous system. It releases electrical impulses to slow down or even stop pain signals.

"Unfortunately, the most common treatment for chronic pain has been opioids," said Dr. Barolat. "This procedure provides a great alternative."

Neuromodulation is FDA approved and has been around for decades but Dr. Barolat says a lot of doctors still don't know the procedure exists.

Katie Mcintosh has had a stimulator just under her skin for 15 years. She decided to go to Dr. Barolat because her constant headaches were debilitating.

"I have occipital neuralgia which effects the left side of my face and head," said Mcintosh. "It felt like an ice pick was being shoved through the back of my head."

Mcintosh runs her stimulator 24 hours a day.

"It worked. It has changed everything for me," she said.

Dr. Barolat says most insurance companies cover the procedure but that it may not be for everyone.

"It’s not like it’s a shot in the dark," Barolat said. "You put it in and maybe it will work or not work. You can do a test trial and the patient will decide whether the results are enough to justify the surgical implantation or not."