‘Coolief’ procedure offers alternative to painkillers

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Because the risk of opioid addiction is so high, doctors and patients are searching for pill-free pain relief options.

8News anchor Amy Lacey took a look at one treatment called “Coolief.”

Maribeth Hardt enjoys strolling through the museum district with her dog Linxy. It’s a simple pleasure she had to miss out on this time last year.

“She loves to be active, and I had to take it really, really slow if I were to walk at all,” Hardt said.

For two years, osteoarthritis caused severe pain in Hardt’s knees. She didn’t want to use painkillers or get a knee replacement at such a young age.

“Basically, I was up against a wall,” Hardt said. “I couldn’t do anything.

“Best thing I ever did. Gave me a whole new lease on life.”

Then she learned about Coolief which uses cooled radio frequency energy to target nerves and reduce pain.

“I figured I have nothing to lose but all to gain,” Hardt said. “My alternatives were non-existent and it was remarkable.”

“Seventy-five percent of patients with the Coolief procedure had at least 50 percent reduction in arthritic knee pain six months after treatment,” DePalma said.Dr. Michael DePalma, an interventional spine specialist, said that Coolief helps about three-fourths of all patients with arthritic pain.

DePalma’s Stony Point practice was part of a clinical trial on Coolief, which takes about 35 minutes with light sedation.

Hardt said her downtime was minimal.

“I was able to walk right out. I had three of those little round bandaids, and that was it,” Hardt said.

“I’m basically the type of personality where I’m on the go constantly,” she added. Hardt, an avid skier and hiker, said she feels like she has her life back.

Coolief allows her to be pain and drug-free. Hardt lit up when  asked about how Coolief affected her quality of life.

“Best thing I ever did,” she said. “Gave me a whole new lease on life.”

Related links:


  • Half of young people who used heroin got started by abusing prescription opioids.
  • One in fifteen individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers will try heroin within 10 years.
  • The number of opioid prescriptions has nearly tripled over the last 25 years, and the United States now accounts for nearly 100 percent of the world’s hydrocodone prescriptions and 81 percent for oxycodone.
  • The number of Americans abusing heroin nearly doubled from 2007 to 2012, with nearly 700,000 now abusing heroin.

In Virginia, abuse and overdose deaths continue to rise:

  • Prescription opioid overdose deaths have risen 44 percent between 2007 and 2015, from 399 deaths to 576.
  • Heroin overdose deaths have risen more than 600 percent between 2010 and 2015, from 48 to 342.
  • Fentanyl deaths have risen 367 percent from 2007 to 2015, from 48 to 224.
  • More than 500 people went to a Virginia emergency room from a heroin overdose in the first four months of 2016, a 250% increase over 2015.

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