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Pen-like device zaps away pain

April 25, 2013 5:59:37 PM PDT
For Winnie Meadows, even a short walk across a parking lot can be an uncomfortable experience because of osteoarthritis in her knees.

"Getting in and out of bed, getting out of a chair is very painful," she complains.

But today, she's hoping to relieve that pain, not with drugs or surgery, but by freezing it away.

At his clinic in Napa, pain management specialist Eric Grigsby, M.D. is preparing to treat Meadows with a newly approved technology developed by Redwood City based Myoscience. It's a pen-like device that's designed to penetrate, then numb a key nerve pathway carrying pain signals from the knee to brain.

"The relief is immediate; it takes about 10 minutes, but as soon as that's over, the cold takes effect. They get off the table and do deep knee bends, something they haven't done in a long time," Grigsby explains.

ABC7 News first profiled a version of the Myoscience device last year, when it was undergoing testing for freezing wrinkles. The company hopes that application will grow into an alternative for Botox. The device contains a needle, but nothing is actually injected into the patient's body. Instead, when activated, liquid nitrous is thrust into the closed tip turning it extremely cold.

In a demonstration, the device began cooling a Jello-like substance in a matter of seconds. CEO Clint Carnell says the freezing has a long lasting effect on nerves.

"So we use your body's natural response to cold to simply put the nerve into hibernation and allowing it to wake up over time. In the case of osteoarthritis in the knee, our studies have shown we can turn off that sensory nerve for up to 2-3 months," says Carnell.

Using just local anesthetic, the cold is applied over the course of about 20 minutes. Because nothing is being injected into the body, Grigsby says the chances for side effects are slim, and so far results have been encouraging.

After having both knees treated, Meadows is able to sit up and walk away from the exam room, and hopefully toward a more pain free life.

"It would mean a great deal, to have some relief. I have a lot of pains, so to get rid of that one would be wonderful," says Meadows.

The Myoscience device recently received FDA clearance for pain treatment in the U.S. it's already being used in Europe for cosmetic applications as well as pain.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

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