Carson Daly undergoes back pain procedure using Minnesota firm’s technology

TV personality Carson Daly is bringing positive attention to Relievant Medsystems, a Twin Cities-based medical company that developed a technology used in his recent back surgery.

The Today Show co-host underwent surgery to address chronic lower back pain last week; the procedure was filmed and Daly shared the story with viewers Monday morning.

Back surgeons have long focused on treating discs in a patient’s back. Relievant’s Intracept system focuses on vertebrogenic pain, a specific type of back pain caused by damage to the vertebral endplates, where discs attach to the vereabrae.

The Intracept procedure uses radiofrequency energy to stop the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain.

“Hopefully it will help some people because there’s some new technology that’s out there that’s definitely helped relieving some sharp pain,” said Daly when he returned to the show on Thursday, previewing this week’s longer segment.

The outpatient procedure lasts about an hour with patients sent home the same day. No implants or hardware are left in the patient’s body.

Daly’s back was injured in a snowmobile accident in 1997 while working for MTV. He told viewers he has struggled with lower back pain for 25 years and has tried a host of treatments.

The Intracept procedure didn’t remove all his pain, but did lessen the sharpest pains.

“It is not a cure-all,” said Daly, “But I am glad I did it. I’m like 60-70% better.”

The TV personality told viewers he had to fight his insurance in a four-month appeals process to get the procedure covered.

“If you’re watching at home, get new imaging, take it to your doctor and say, ‘Am I a candidate — do I fit the criteria — for Intracept, this procedure that does this ablation of the basivertebral nerve,'” Daly said.

Tyler Binney, CEO of Relievant, said on Friday the company had already seen an uptick in website traffic and social media mentions since Daly’s brief comment Thursday morning.

“We’re gearing up to be prepared for what’s to come on Monday,” Binney told the Star Tribune late last week. Company executives were not interviewed by “The Today Show.”

Binney said several health insurance plans currently cover for the procedure. “And for those that don’t, there are a few steps needed to gain insurance coverage — which is not uncommon for a novel procedure like this,” he said.

The company has a program, he said, that works with doctors on making the case to insurance companies for how patients can benefit from Intracept.

Daly’s provider, Dr. Kiran Patel, recommended the procedure. She compared shutting off the pain signals between the nerve and the brain as “like turning off notifications on your cell phone.”

Relievant was founded in California but relocated to Minnesota in 2018. The privately held company has raised more than $200 million in financing, including a $70 million round in 2020.

The company recently inked a lease to move from Bloomington to Edina, where it will take a full floor in the former Regis Corp. headquarters building this fall. Relievant has grown from 88 employees a year ago to 132 staffers today, with plans to hire more than 50 additional workers by the end of the year.

Binney, who previously worked at Teleflex and Johnson & Johnson, was named CEO in April 2021.

“We’re just excited about the awareness this will bring,” said Dr. Ray Baker, Relievant’s chief medical officer.