Swift Institute helping turn off lower back pain with Intracept Procedure

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 12:52 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Patients with chronic lower back pain could benefit from a new procedure being offered in Northern Nevada.

Swift Institute has added the Intracept to its pain treatment care, with Dr. Hugh McDermott recently becoming the first are surgeon to perform the procedure at an ambulatory surgery center.

The Intracept procedure involves accessing and deadening a pain-transmitting nerve in the vertebrae. It can be compared to turning off notifications or blocking a phone number.

“We essentially cauterize it,” said Dr. McDermott. “Then that signal will stop coming through.”

Harvey Smith was that first patient. The 72-year-old says he stopped playing golf in 2006 because of a herniated disk and had tried everything - including surgery - to tame the lingering pain.

”It was hard for me to even put on clothes because I couldn’t lift my leg up,” said Smith. “I had acupuncture, I had two bouts of radio frequency oblation, I had nerve blockers, I had cortisone shots, everything they could try.”

Aside from a month or two of temporary relief, only the Intracept has offered long-term results. Smith says he’s now regaining his strength through physical therapy.

“I think it’s permanent. I am constantly getting a little better,” said Smith. “I call Dr. McDermott my hero. I didn’t expect it to be that good.”

“It’s fun. It’s really cool to see,” said Dr. McDermott. “I’m optimistic that was the primary generator of his pain.”

Dr. McDermott also stresses the treatment of solely pain with no structural changes, adding the Intracept is aimed for specific patients with vertebrogenic low back pain. While there is still a problematic disk, he says there should still be a “net positive.”

“Now you’re using less medications, now you’re more active,” said Dr. McDermott, adding multiple patients since Smith have reported 80 to 100 percent pain loss. “Those are the things we’ve been trying to do the whole time but maybe you weren’t in the right mindset because it’s just going to come back anyway.”

Smith agrees, saying overcoming back pain involves mental strength.

“This is conditioning me to say shut your mind off to thinking about pain and set your goals.”

That includes playing golf, which he soon plans to do.

Learn more about Harvey and the Intracept in the video above!