Device helps chronic pain patients avoid opioids, surgery


Nearly a hundred people in our part of the Central Valley died from opioid overdose in 2017, according to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health. To curb the problem, one Fresno doctor is using a device to cut down on opioid use.

Jack Yagura’s back pain became an obstacle to the things he liked doing the most.

“I couldn’t play golf anymore and I was a master gardener, had to stop that,” he said. “Pretty, couldn’t do a lot.”

It was the same situation for Ed Cavalieri, who said he had back problems for decades.

“I couldn’t lift anything heavy or it’d start hurting me. If I stood up too long, it’d bother me,” Cavalieri said.

Both Yagura and Cavalieri went through a variety of treatments and medications before finding out about the Stimwave Freedom SCS System last year. The device is an injectable wire that’s applied to areas of chronic pain. including peripheral nerve damage.

It requires no surgery and the procedure is only 25-to-30 minutes, according to pain management specialist Dr. Rasheed Amireh. He currently is the only doctor in the area using this device on patients.

In the year since using Stimwave, 15 of his patients have had the device put in.

“It is the least invasive [device in the market], there is no generator implanted under the skin,” said Amireh.

Most importantly, though, he said the device is “an alternative to control the pain other than opioids.” Patients control the stimulations from the device through a remote to increase or reduce voltage.

For Yagura and Cavalieri, the device has helped them live their lives again.

“I’m playing golf again and my game is getting a little bit better. The biggest thing is my wife says I’m a happier person,” Yagura said.

Cavalieri said, “Sometimes I take [the remote] off for a day and my back will be just fine.”

Most insurance, including Medicare, covers the cost of the Stimwave device. Late last year, the FDA approved smart device use with this, rollout for those features in the Fresno area market could happen soon.

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