Pain-relieving implant device helps Durham woman avoid back and leg pain in 4-year-old
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain affects approximately 50 million American adults. It can seriously affect a person’s quality of life.
That’s why 28-year-old Meredith Mooney quit her job as a kindergarten teacher in Durham. “I actually woke up on September 1, 2018 with back pain,” she said.
“Unfortunately, for the longest time, we’ve actually had opioid-related drugs to treat pain,” said Dr. Jay Kumar, chief medical officer at Spine & Pain Specialists in the Carolinas, based in Charlotte.
Keeping Mooney as his patient, Kumar first tried conservative methods. X-rays and MRI examinations gave some clues about the cause of her pain. Mooney tried several rounds of oral steroids, but with no success.
She said, “It made a huge difference to my body. I was tired of a Band-Aid. I needed a solution!”
Then he received a nerve block which also failed to provide benefit for him.
That’s when Kumar turned to a peripheral nerve stimulation device called the Stim Router by Bioventus, a Durham-based company. StimRouter was approved by the FDA in 2015.
Phil Stead, vice president of sales with Bioventus, says the StimRouter competes with four or five other devices on the market. “But it is good because it is so targeted. It tackles regional chronic pain as opposed to general chronic pain,” Stead said, referencing the device.
The minimally invasive procedure uses ultrasound guidance to guide a thin “lead” wire placed near the target peripheral nerve below the kneecap.
A small, wearable power source is affixed to the skin over the implant and communicates wirelessly with the lead. “And you can turn it on or off. You can control it remotely,” Kumar said.
“The patient programming piece is broadly important, I think, because you’re dealing with an opportunity for that patient to manage their pain,” Stead said.
Unfortunately, upon arriving for the procedure, Mooney learned that her insurance provider would not cover the approximately $8,000 cost.
“I paid for all of this out of my own pocket, so it was a choice I decided to make,” she said.
She now knows it was the right choice, “because I haven’t felt my toes move since 2020.” She is running normally and has been active for more than four years.
A representative for Bioventus says StimRouter is reimbursed by Medicare and several private insurers. “Bioventus has an ongoing effort to work with all payers to help make coverage effective based on scientific evidence of success,” the representative said.
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