Chronic Pain patients and their doctors have something new to consider for their treatment. Medtronic announced that the FDA has approved a new device that treats chronic pain while tracking a patient’s movement.
The company’s new system delivers electrical impulses to the spine via a device implanted in a patient. Those impulses alleviate chronic pain by preventing certain signals of pain from reaching the brain. Current spinal cord stimulators require the patient to manually adjust stimulation levels.
Medtronic’s device can detect whether a person is lying down or sitting up and adjust the stimulation level accordingly. Since body position can affect how stimulation is needed to alleviate pain, the ability of the device to automatically make adjustments is an advance.
Other companies that make spinal cord stimulators, notably St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific, don’t offer a product like this yet.
“Medtronic is pleased to introduce AdaptiveStim technology, and we look forward to helping address the many concerns we’ve heard from physicians and patients about traditional neurostimulation systems,” said Julie Foster, vice president and general manager of the Pain and Drug Delivery Therapy businesses in the Neuromodulation division at Medtronic in a news release.
Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), which is a giant medical device manufacturer, claims that its product uses technology that’s similar to what allows smart phones to detect motion.
Spinal cord stimulation has been used for over a decade and one physician has written about the pros and cons of spinal cord stimulation treatment for chronic pain.
“It (spinal cord stimulation) has few side effects and is easily reversible. If it doesn’t work or is no longer needed it can be removed,” said Clifford Bernstein, a pain specialist from Newport Beach, California. Although effective, Bernstein warns that spinal cord stimulation doesn’t always eliminate pain.
“A successful outcome of spinal cord stimulation is considered to be pain relief of 50% or more,” said Bernstein.
While estimates vary, it is generally agreed that over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain.