An electrifying alternative to opioids

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Courtesy photo ActiPatch is a new and clinically proven drug-free technology in the fight against chronic pain.

In conjunction with local health care providers, Northwest Specialty Hospital is offering electroceutical devices as an alternative to opioid medication for pain management.

“Pain is a significant issue for so many people to deal with,” said Darron Rock of Northwest Specialty. “We wanted to come up with a solution, post-surgically, to manage that pain and really present a novel approach.”

The solution has come in the form of the ActiPatch, a wearable, over-the-counter neuromodulation therapy device manufactured by Bioelectrics Corporation. ActiPatch uses electromagnetic pulse therapy to provide safe and effective relief from postoperative pain and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

“There’s such a stigma attached to the process of getting pain medication,” Rock said. “Pain clinics have very stringent recommendations of what they will and won’t do for patients. There’s a new path that’s much easier and much less addictive.”

Rock noted that ActiPatch doesn’t generate revenue for Northwest Specialty Hospital. Rather, he said, NWSH wants to make patients aware of alternatives to opioid-based pain relief. Any provider in the area can order ActiPatch; patients can even buy the device on Amazon.

In 2016, there were 119 opioid-related overdose deaths in Idaho, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported that in 2016, Idaho was above the national average for the rate of opioids dispensed per 100,000 population.

“Opioids aren’t the only answer,” said Molly Liter, a nurse practitioner with Axis Spine, who has 18 years of experience working with patients who have chronic pain. “When you say that to patients, they’re skeptical... I think just being able to offer them something that has been effective is the biggest thing.”

As the pendulum swings away from opioids, health care providers are having difficult conversations with their patients about pain relief options, Liter said. It’s devastating for a patient with chronic pain to hear that the medication they’ve relied on will no longer be prescribed to them.

“We have to give them other options,” she said. “I think that’s where ActiPatch has been beneficial.”

ActiPatch is drug- and ingredient-free, so it’s safe for continuous use and can be used while taking medications.

“There’s no sensation,” Liter said. “All you feel is pain relief.”

Liter said she often recommends ActiPatch for patients with musculoskeletal pain.

“For a significant number of my patients, ActiPatch has been effective,” Liter said. “It’s a benign thing to try, unlike a medication that’s fraught with side effects.”

In addition to pain relief, Liter said, one of the best things that ActiPatch gives patients is hope.

“By the time patients get to us at a chronic pain clinic, they’ve tried everything,” she said. “Something else in the treatment bag is hope for them.”

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