CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF)– A Chattanooga surgeon uses intense cold therapy as a way to help patients with pain and reduce opioid use.
“I want to get off opioids as quickly as possible, obviously. But also I didn’t want to have a lot of pain. That’s very honest with me about that,” Bob Main said.
Drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed during the pandemic. In 2020, there were more than 68,000 overdose deaths in the United States involving an illicit or prescription opioid according to federal data.
“About one in five people who were on post-op pain medication will still be on opioids a year from now. 68 out of 100 people seen by doctors were prescribed an opioid across the country,” Dr. Bernard said.
Dr. Matthew Bernard is a surgeon at Southeastern Spine, Brain, and Joint in Chattanooga.
“Orthopaedic surgeons have been at the center of this because what we do hurts. We have to get our patients through. We don’t want them to be immobile because we don’t want them to have bedsores and blood clots. So we want to see what we can do to get our patients up before and after surgery on as little opioids as possible,” Dr. Bernard said.
He is passionate about minimizing patient exposure to opioids. He does this through a device that delivers intense cold therapy.
“It will identify your nerves that go to your knee and there is liquid nitrogen on one side and there are needles on the other side and it will freeze that nerve. By freezing that nerve it will gradually grow back over time. time over a series of months, but it will stop sending messages to the brain, so we get pretty good superficial control of long-lasting pain,” Dr. Bernard said.
Dr. Bernard’s use of this method has resulted in reduced opioid use in his patients who have undergone total knee replacement surgery, with some patients being opioid-free. One such patient is Bob Main who received treatment and was off opioids within a week.
“I was able to come off the opioids very quickly. I made significant progress in therapy because I didn’t have a lot of extra pain. I’m six months out and I think I’ve fully recovered” , said Main.