Review of the Quell - Wearable Pain Relief

Quell. Quell

Wearable Pain Relief, The New Frontier

If you've ever lived with chronic pain, you've probably tried just about everything - Pills, creams, massages, injections, physical therapy, hot baths or even one of those TENS units - A small, portable device with electrodes that attach to your body and send mild electrical impulses that block pain signals to the brain.

Chronic pain is huge a problem these days as is the addiction to pain medication, one of the first things we turn to for pain.

The good news is there are smart people out there trying to figure out how we can reduce pain without any drugs at all.

Some of these very smart people created just such a device. It's called that the Quell, a small wearable device that can help you manage chronic pain in a whole new way.

The Quell

So, what exactly is the Quell? At its heart, it's a way to ease pain from conditions like fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, and osteoarthritis. More precisely, it's a small, square device that sits in a velcro pocket with an electrode snapped inside.

It's this electrode strip that, like a TENS unit, sends electrical signals that, according to the creators, "stimulate dense nerve clusters triggering endogenous pain relief mechanisms in the body."

That sounds like a lot, but you don't have to understand the science behind it for it to work.

The idea is that you slip the Quell into the breathable sports band, wrap it around your upper calf.

Then you calibrate the system so that it gives you as much stimulation as your body needs.

You control how much stimulation is given to your body, then the Quell takes over. It automatically works for an hour and then shuts off for an hour, continuing that cycle for as long as you wear it.

It's designed to be worn 24 hours a day so it even senses when you're sleeping and changes the stimulation.

It easily fits under your clothes and it also works with a free app to track your therapy and sleep history.

In fact, they explain it better than I do:

"Quell’s OptiTherapy™ calibrates to your optimal stimulation level ensuring you receive maximum relief. It knows what level of stimulation to deliver during the day and adjusts to the appropriate level at night. It senses when you are lying down and automatically switches to night therapy to ensure a restful sleep."

So How Does it Work?

The first big question is how exactly does this work to reduce pain? It seems silly to put a portable pain device around your calf to help with back or neck pain.

Below is a very brief summary of just how the Quell works:

  1. Quell stimulates peripheral sensory nerves with a measure of electricity.
  2. These peripheral sensory nerves carry neural pulses to the pain center in your central nervous system.
  3. This causes pain-relieving opioids (kind of like in pain meds) to be released, which stops the pain signal from spreading.
  4. These opioids often work better than prescription meds.

The Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • It works  - I tested the Quell when I was having some sciatic pain and, when I used the Quell there was some relief. It wasn't 100% but enough to notice a difference. In a study published in the Journal of Pain Research, 80% of participants responded to the Quell reporting that their chronic pain had improved in 60 days.
  • It's comfortable - As small as it is, you will feel it the first time you try it. It may feel a little weird to walk around with it on and it takes some time to get used to, but it's very lightweight and if you use it regularly, you barely notice it. 
  • It's easy to calibrate - The idea is that a pulse is sent through the Quell, kind of like a very mild electric shock. It continues pulsing for an hour and you are in charge of the settings. Once you calibrate it, you can still change the settings if it feels like it's too much or not enough. 
  • It's easy to use - Unlike TENS units, where you have to futz around with the leads and wires and all of that, the Quell has one giant electrode that wraps around your calf in one easy movement
  • It works automatically - Once you turn it on, it continues working the way it's supposed to, so you don't have to think about it. 
  • A variety of options - There are different electrodes to choose from, regular ones you can wear daily and sport electrodes which have a different type of gel designed to work better when you're sweating. You can also choose bands in a variety of colors.
  • There's an App - The Quell also offers an app that's very easy to use. You can actually calibrate your Quell from the app, customize different stimulation patterns that work for you and also track  sleep patterns and how your pain therapy is going

The Cons

The Quell has so many great qualities, it's hard to find anything wrong with it. There are a few drawbacks to consider before you buy one.

  • It may not work for everyone - As suggested in the study, not everyone responded to the Quell, so that may the case for some. Quell offers a 60-day money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose in trying it.
  • It's pricey - You can find small portable TENS units for under $20 in some places, so the Quell may seem expensive at $249. You also have to change the electrodes every few weeks, so that's an extra cost of $29-$89 ($89 is for a 3-monthe supply). They do send you extras when you order the product.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Quell has a lot of potential for people dealing with chronic pain. As they say on the website, the people who will get the most out of this are people who have sciatica pain, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and osteoarthritis. 

If you've tried everything and you're still in pain, you have nothing to lose by trying the Quell. It's very impressive and a welcome addition to new ways to deal with pain without taking meds.

Source:

Gozani SN. Fixed-site high-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for treatment of chronic low back and lower extremity pain. Journal of Pain Research. 2016;9:468-479. doi:10.2147/JPR.S111035.

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