STOW -- More than 120 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. It's often an invisible illness that can destroy quality of life. Drugs are often the first line of treatment but a pain clinic in Stow is using something we breathe every day to take the pain away.
A motorcycle accident paralyzed John Alchier fourteen years ago. His arms and shoulders are what propel him through life now, but chronic shoulder pain stopped him in his tracks.
"Prevented me from turning my neck to the right or any functions with my shoulder at all it was really hard to sleep," John says.
The traditional pain relief he tried didn't work.
"I just got to the point I couldn't take it anymore," John says. So when his pain specialist told him about Ozone therapy he was ready to try it.
Ozone oxygen therapy's been used for nearly half a century in Europe to treat everything from wounds to cancer. But the same atmospheric ozone that shields you from damaging ultra violet sunlight is being used to treat chronic pain at Summit Pain Specialists, part of Akron General Medical Center in Stow.
"Oxygen is something that's very essential to our health. The more oxygen the healthier they feel. The more calm they feel, the more fluid their body works," says pain specialist Dr. James Bressi.
Ozone is created when electricity mixes with oxygen. It's that sweet smelling air you smell after a lightning rain storm. In a medical setting, oxygen is fed through a machine that gives it an electrical pulse and turns it into ozone. Then it's injected into either the muscle or joint.
"Ozone turns to peroxide chains in the body which are loaded with oxygen and it stays in the body a long time," Dr. Bressi says.
He adds that straight oxygen doesn't make the same chemical reaction to last as long. Unlike steroids or cortisone shots, there's no limit to ozone injections and the pain relief is fast and usually lasts three to six weeks.
"Within 24 hours I was completely pain free," says John.
While 95 percent of Dr. Bressi's patients are still treated with medication, it may take awhile for the alternative therapies to catch on because they're not covered by insurance. Ozone therapy is not FDA approved so expect to pay $75 for a muscle injection and $100 for a joint injection.
Dr. Bressi's used it for the past five months on about a hundred patients and says the majority found relief, but it doesn't work for everyone.
"Most of those people are raving about it and some said 'no, I didn't get any help' but the good news is they didn't get any drawbacks from it either." Dr. Bressi says.
To contact Summit Pain Specialists click HERE
Ideastream in collaboration with The Plain Dealer, NetWellness and WKYC Channel 3 News will launch Body in Pain - a multiple media exploration of the mysterious problem of pain. This special coverage will examine the anatomy of pain - what exactly is it and how do we feel it. Coverage will also explore the latest research and new technologies being developed to measure and treat pain plus an examination of non-traditional remedies.
For a full schedule of Body in Pain programming, click HERE