New twist on nerve stimulators blocks pain

NEWTOWN, Pa. -- For years, doctors have used electrical stimulators to block back pain.

Now, the shrinking size of electronics has opened up new uses for them and are helping people with other kinds of pain in a big way.

Olivia Wellsford's car accident was minor, but the whiplash pain wasn't.

"I felt dizzy and nauseous after the impact, and then a few hours later, I ended up going to the emergency room," says Olivia, of West Deptford, New Jersey.

And it got worse -

"Neck aches, headaches," she says

Medications and physical therapy didn't help much, so Olivia left her job - and barely left her house.

About a year ago, she heard about StimWave, a device which won FDA clearance in 2018.

"We're using electricity and dosing that electricity to block pain signals," says Dr. Matt Wiederholz of Performance Spine and Sports Medicine in Newtown, Bucks County.

Dr. Wiederholz says unlike past nerve stimulators, there's no battery INSIDE the body.

It runs on small, easily changeable power packs.

"You have essentially an unlimited power supply," he notes.

Only the small electrodes are implanted -

"They put the brains of this device into this microchip," he says, pointing to the tiny contacts within the electrode/

And they come in different sizes, and with different numbers of contacts, to produce tiny electrical fields to block pain almost anywhere - at the neck, shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, or wrist.

"It completely changed my life," recalls Olivia.

She still has headaches and pain, but they're manageable.

And they're not getting in the way of life as much.

"I was able to go for a weekend to Savannah, and be out with my friends," she told us.

StimWave is now making its way to doctors nationwide.