Over 10 percent of the world’s population suffer from chronic pain, with estimates of prevalence closer to 25% in some countries and regions. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months, and the pain signals can take both a physical and emotional toll.
Healthcare providers have long wrestled with how best to treat chronic pain patients, due to potential risks involved with long-term treatment such as development of drug tolerance, hyperalgesia and addiction. Some estimates suggest that up to 40% of chronic pain patients may suffer from addiction, and as a result many are reluctant to take prescribed opioids. Developing effective and non-addicting pain treatments is a public health priority.
NeuroMetrix has developed a wearable drug-free pain relief technology, Quell. The device is specifically designed to provide systemic relief of chronic pain using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and is controlled by your smartphone or tablet through an accompanying app on iOS and Android.
The FDA-approved device is placed in a comfortable sport band, and an electrode is snapped onto the back of the device. The band is worn around the upper calf with the electrode in direct contact with the user’s skin. The electrode stimulates sensory nerves in the calf, which carry neural pulses to the brain. These trigger the body’s natural pain relief mechanism, releasing endogenous opioids into the spine that block pain signals throughout the body.
Since each individual has unique sensitivity levels and pain relief needs, the device is calibrated the first time it is used. Afterwards, it will automatically adjust to the user’s optimal stimulation level for pain relief. In addition, the device has a built in accelerometer to track the user’s activity level in order to automatically transition between therapy levels and meet the body’s need. It is even designed for overnight use, and the user can customize sleep settings and track sleep quality.
While TENS is a fairly common procedure to relieve pain, it typically require the user to be anchored down by a small machine. However, Quell is wireless and help improve efficiency, quality, and access to care, as well as other benefits experienced with digital health. It is even reported that 67% of users reduced their use of pain medication after starting to use Quell. The innovative and clinically proven device can be bought for $249 on their website, but new electrodes are needed every month for an additional $30.
Below is a video from their Indiegogo campaign.