Alternative medical treatment to decrease opioid use

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)– A Chattanooga surgeon is using intense cold therapy as a means to help patients with pain and decrease the use of opioids.

“I want to get off opioids as quickly as I could, obviously. But also I didn’t want to have a lot of pain. That’s very honest with me about that,” said Bob Main.
Drug Overdose deaths soared during the pandemic. In 2020, there were more than 68,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. involving an illicit or prescription opioid according to federal data.
“About one in five people that were writing post-op pain medicine for, will still be on opioids a year from now. 68 out of 100 people seen by physicians were prescribed for an opioid across the country,” said Dr. Bernard.
Dr. Matthew Bernard is a surgeon at Southeastern Spine, Brain, and Joint in Chattanooga.
“Orthopedic surgeons have been at the center of that because what we do hurts. We have to get our patients through. We don’t want them to be immobile because we don’t want them to get bed sores and blood clots. So we want to see what we can do about getting our patients up and going before and after surgery with as little opioid as possible,” said Dr. Bernard.
He has made it a passion of his to minimize patient opioid exposure. He does this through a device that delivers intense cold therapy.
“It will identify your nerves that go to your knee and there’s liquid nitrogen on one side and there’s needles on the other side and it will freeze that nerve. By freezing that nerve it will gradually grow back over time over a series of months but it quits sending messages to the brain so we get some pretty good superficial pain control that’s long-lasting,” said Dr. Bernard.
Dr. Bernard’s use of this method has led to a reduction in opioid use among his total knee replacements patients, with some patients being opioid-free. One of those patients is Bob Main who was given the treatment and off opioids in less than a week.
“I was able to get off opioids real quick. I made significant progress in therapy because I wasn’t having a lot of extra pain. I’m six months out and I think I’m fully recovered,” said Main.
Categories: Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News

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