Pain therapies

Companies that operate in Minnesota make many types of pain-fighting devices that don’t involve opioids, including:


Continuous peripheral nerve block: A short-acting local anesthetic is delivered in small doses to the site of a nerve using a thin tube connected to an infusion pump like Smiths Medical’s CADD-Solis pump. Can be used inside or outside the hospital for several days.


Corticosteroid injection: Doctors have long used corticosteroid injections in the epidural space to ease back pain, even though such a use is not specifically approved by the FDA. Plymouth’s SpineThera is designing a sustained-release version specifically for lower back pain, known as SX600.


Cryoanalgesia: As part of a heart surgery, a clinician uses a cryogenic probe such as AtriCure’s CryoIce Cryoanalgesia Probe to temporarily disable nerves along the ribs, avoiding post-surgical pain. Nerve function returns naturally over time.


Radio-frequency ablation: Under motion X-rays, a doctor uses electric current to precisely create a lesion in a nerve to disrupt its ability to transmit pain signals. Abbott Labs, Boston Scientific and Medtronic all make radio-frequency ablation devices.


Spinal cord stimulation: SCS uses a pacemaker-like device and a thin insulated wire to deliver mild current near the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals traveling to the brain. All three major pacemaker companies in the U.S. — Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific and Medtronic — offer versions with different features and levels of medical evidence.


Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation: Applies mild current near the root of a spinal nerve to treat pain in the hips or below. The former St. Jude Medical, now owned by Abbott Labs, sells the Axium DRG stimulator.


Intrathecal drug delivery: An implantable pump that delivers small amounts of pain-fighting drugs to the intrathecal space around the spine. Medtronic sells SynchroMed pumps that are approved to deliver medications like nonopioid ziconotide.