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A New Treatment for Chronic Nerve Pain

Jun 18, 2020 by Christian Signorino

Injectrode may relieve chronic back pain

People suffering from chronic back pain now have a new tool to help them treat their nerve pain. This injectable electrode, called an "injectrode" can be used in the place of opioids or spinal implants.

When comparing this novel treatment to other therapies, the injectrode appears easier and cheaper than spinal implants, as well as being safer than long-term use of opioids. Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kip Ludwig, explains how this liquid silicone gel with small metal particles in it is injected around whichever nerve is causing a patient pain. As the gel hardens, it becomes a conductible electrode. An outer sheath of insulation is then injected around the electrode and a wire then runs to the surface of the skin.

"You now have a direct connection to stimulate a deep nerve from the surface of the skin, without affecting any nerves on the surface of the skin," Ludwig said. "We're trying to get this to the point where it's like getting a tattoo, in terms of invasiveness."

Electrical pulses in a technique called neuromodulation, have been shown to be effective in treating chronic nerve pain, and the development of the injectrode can make the process much more affordable.

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