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'Night and day' | New procedure helped East Tennessee woman go from prescription opioids to pain-free

Dr. James Choo at Pain Consultants of East Tennessee said the new procedure could be a "game changer" for chronic pain patients.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jane David spent nearly 20 years living with chronic pain. She said multiple car accidents over the years had made it worse.

"I wasn't able to walk, couldn't do all the gardening, pain when I was cooking," she said. "Just pain, constant pain."

She thought she'd tried everything at a number of pain clinics over the years. David would get shots in her back every three months. Once, she tried a device implant in her back to relieve the pain.

Around 2005, she was prescribed Percocet, before switching to Hydrocodone. She never felt like herself.

"You can function, but just barely. It's like you're walking around drunk all the time," Jane David said. "I wasn't able to drive because I was high on pills and so I relied on my husband for everything."

Then, she met Dr. James Choo with Pain Consultants of East Tennessee. His team tries everything — like occupational and physical rehabilitation programs — before trying opioids as a last resort.

Credit: Submitted

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He recommended a new Intracept procedure by Relievant, which essentially removes specific pain nerves using radiofrequency energy. 

"What we're trying to do is find the magical target that we're trying to address and use a specific technology to eliminate the problem," Dr. Choo said. "Then, the quality of life of the patient, their function may improve without ever having to touch pills or whatever it may be."

Jane David said it worked for her almost instantly. Within two weeks, she had weened herself off the prescription pain pills.

"It's a life changer. That's all I can say. It's like night and day," she said. "I can go out in the garden and pull weeds. I can walk down to the mailbox without pain. I can walk around Dollywood with no pain."

Dr. Choo said only a small number of patients — fewer than half a dozen — have qualified at his clinic so far because of the strict criteria. It's a new treatment that began in January, although he said it's been well-studied over the last 15 years.

The procedure targets a specific nerve within the vertebra. It was causing Jane David's pain, and Dr. Choo said he hopes it will help revolutionize the future of chronic pain management.

"It can be a wonderful wonderful therapy and game changer for that individual," he said. "You're essentially taking all the pain fibers from that bone that has been inflamed and taking them away for several years, maybe forever."


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