Wearable Nerve Stimulator Improves Chronic Pain
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015 12:00 AM

A noninvasive wearable nerve stimulator improves pain to the point of needing less analgesia in patients with neuropathy, arthritis, and other common forms of chronic pain, a new study shows.

"Our data suggest, and this is mimicked anecdotally, that this device works for about eight out of 10 people," said Shai Gozani, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer, NeuroMetrix, manufacturer of the device. The device (Quell, NeuroMetrix) was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2014.

The stimulator, inserted into a slim, lightweight band and worn on the upper calf, stimulates sensory nerves, which carry neural pulses to the brain. The pulses trigger release of endogenous opioids within the spinal cord.

"It elevates endogenous opioids, so it's actually operating through some of the same pathways as opioids," explained Dr Gozani. "But because it's all endogenous, it's very precise and doesn't have some of the negative side effects of prescription opioids such as addiction or euphoria; this is purely for pain control."

The class 2 medical device is the first of its kind and recently became available over the counter.

Although the Quell device is relatively new, it uses the concept of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which has been around since the early 1970s. "We wanted to put it into a format that someone could wear for chronic pain relief: for an hour before going to bed, for 8 hours a day, overnight, or wear it continuously," said Dr Gozani.

The device is calibrated to the individual patient's sensory threshold and automatically sets stimulation intensity to a therapeutic level. After calibration, each 60-minute therapy session starts automatically every other hour.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/851131