Pain relief without opioids


As the opioid battle continues across the country, a local doctor is shedding light on a product offering pain relief without medication.

73-year-old John Thelen started experiencing debilitating headaches and neck pain a short time after serving our country in Germany.

He says his pain didn’t stem from his time in the Army, but instead a college football injury.

“It was so severe I couldn’t even drive, I would have to pull over,” Thelen said.

Thelen searched for pain relief and underwent a variety of treatments, including acupuncture and pain medication.

Unfortunately, nothing was working.

“I went to that pain doctor and when I told him I’m still having the headaches, he said John there’s nothing we can do, I’ve tried everything. But, I know somebody you need to talk to,” Thelen said.

That somebody was Dr. James Brunz at the Orthopedic Institute in Sioux Falls.

He recommended spinal cord stimulation for Thelen, and in March of this year that therapy finally gave him his life back.

“Spinal cord stimulation is an effective, long term, drug free therapy that is highly effective at treating neuropathic or nerve pain,” Brunz said.

The therapy involves implanting a small device that Brunz says is similar to a pacemaker, helping to control pain.

“I didn’t really believe it would be that good but, I’d say I’ve lost 75 to 80 percent of my headaches,” Thelen said.

And with only a remote, patients can control their pain with the touch of a button.

The remote gives patients the option of where they want pain relief, and at what level they want the pulses– which Thelen compares to small vibrations.

With the help of this therapy, Brunz says people may be able to significantly cut down on or eliminate the use of both opioid and non-opioid medications.

“Clearly we have you know, a crisis in this country with opioid use and abuse. This therapy is highly effective,” Brunz said.

“If you don’t have, never had anything that would really help it you know and you think there’s nothing that can happen then this would be, what they should get becauseā€¦ it’s amazing,” Thelen said.

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for chronic pain, Dr. Brunz as well as a combat veteran and 9/11 first responder will be speaking at an upcoming seminar.

The seminar takes place Wednesday, September 25 at 12:00 pm at the VFW Post #628 – 3601 S Minnesota Ave. in Sioux Falls.

The event is free and lunch will be provided.

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