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New procedure to help reduce pain without opioids

Treatment option may help patients avoid side effects, addictive qualities of narcotics

Corey+Johnson%2C+a+certified+registered+nurse+anesthetist%2C+says+the+radiofrequency%0Aablation+procedure+can+relieve+back+and+knee+pain+without+opioids.
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New procedure to help reduce pain without opioids

Corey Johnson, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, says the radiofrequency
ablation procedure can relieve back and knee pain without opioids.

Corey Johnson, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, says the radiofrequency ablation procedure can relieve back and knee pain without opioids.

COURTESY OF PRIYA HAZARI

Corey Johnson, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, says the radiofrequency ablation procedure can relieve back and knee pain without opioids.

COURTESY OF PRIYA HAZARI

COURTESY OF PRIYA HAZARI

Corey Johnson, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, says the radiofrequency ablation procedure can relieve back and knee pain without opioids.

DAISY ZAVALA, Evergreen reporter

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Pullman Regional Hospital patients now have access to a new procedure that helps with pain management.

Corey Johnson, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, said the new procedure involves radiofrequency ablation. It is narcotics- and surgery-free. Pullman Regional Hospital made it available in October of 2018.

Johnson said the procedure was implemented in order to have opioid-free options for patients. He defined opioids as addictive and said they can result in various side effects such as nausea and itching.

The procedure was carried out in hospitals throughout the Palouse before it was implemented in Pullman, Johnson said.

“The radiofrequency ablation procedure involves radio waves, which create heat that disrupts the sensory nerves of a certain part of the body, such as the knee or hip,” he said.

Johnson said the procedure, which can be done to relieve back or knee pain, takes about 30 minutes and requires the patient to be under deep sedation. The procedure is also used to reduce pain symptoms in a patient prior to surgery through a doctor’s referral. He said the effects of the procedure last about nine months on average, but it varies from patient to patient.

Patients need to be referred to the procedure by their doctor, Johnson said. They would have a consultation and scheduled the approved procedure within a week.

Johnson said the procedure could be utilized by patients who either don’t qualify for surgery or do not want to go through surgery. The procedure reduces pain as well as the need for opioid medication.

Possible side effects of the procedure include risks of infection, minor bleeding or bruising but only one-twelfth of patients experience any side effects, Johnson said.

He said the cost of the procedure depends on whether a patient has Medicare or insurance and how much the insurance will cover. The hospital bills the insurance company, and the insurance company decides how much it will pay determining the total cost to the patient.

Johnson said that patients would need to check with their insurance companies and call the hospital to get an estimate of the cost for the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “New procedure to help reduce pain without opioids”

  1. Lawrence Jay Epstein, MD on January 9th, 2019 8:54 am

    Funny, I along with 100’s of other specialty trained Pain Physicians, have been performing this procedure regularly (I perform >100/year) for at least 20 years. When done by a Fellowship trained Pain Physician, the procedure rarely requires any sedation (<5% of patients) and is very well tolerated. It is unlikely to be "approved within a week" as virtually every insurance (including Medicare) requires that the patient have 2 diagnostic nerve blocks PRIOR to the Radiofrequency procedure. These are usually done 1-2 weeks apart. About 1/3 of patients actually get long lasting relief after the nerve blocks alone (never need the Radiofrequency procedure). Patients don't need "a referral from a Doctor" when seeing a Pain Physician (most Doctors who are not specialty trained would not know to refer for it). Anyone with chronic back pain which is worse in the morning (getting out of bed) or standing still, should make an appointment to see a Pain Physician. That Physician can evaluate you. Likely, you would first go for Physical Therapy (if not already done) and treatment would progress, if that is ineffective.

  2. Travis Lee, DO on January 11th, 2019 12:59 pm

    As an accredited fellowship trained pain management physician, I agree 100% with Dr. Epstein.

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