5 Ways Health Tech is Helping People Deal With Pain Without Medication


According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, more than 100 million Americans suffer from ongoing pain. Pain, particularly chronic pain, can have a profound effect — debilitating and isolating a person while taking over his or her life.

Still not adequately understood, pain has many neurobiological and psychological components. It is widely believed that pain is experienced in unique ways depending on the individual.

New scientific discoveries have helped develop modern painkillers that can manipulate the way neurotransmitters interact with the brain’s signals. Nonetheless, in many cases pain can be difficult to treat and manage, especially if the pain’s origin is elusive. Although pain medications are an invaluable treatment option, pharmaceutical interventions frequently involve various possible side effects, making some patients look for drug-free alternatives. A variety of new technologies now exist that can help relieve chronic pain and offer patients some hope and respite.

1) iTENS – Merging Modern Technology With TENS

This FDA-cleared electrotherapy device is based on the method of transcutaneus electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) that has been used for decades in pain management. The iTENS is a portable, wireless TENS device that is smart phone enabled. It can be placed on the pain site and operated and controlled by the user’s iPhone or Android device.

The iTENS comes in different sizes depending on the treatment area and can be discretely worn under clothing. The device’s lithium-ion battery is very efficient and supports daily use.

2) CUR – Portable TENS Therapy in a Patch

In 2015, Thimble Bioelectronics developed a wearable device called CUR that imitates the traditional TENS machine.

Unlike TENS that produces low-frequency impulses, CUR delivers high-frequency impulses that are intended to block pain signals and offer the user instant pain relief. Designed to act like a patch, CUR can be placed on the aching part of the body and is activated by pressing a button on the device. The manufacturer assures the patch is durable and can be worn throughout the day, needing a charge only every six hours.

3) Willow Curve – A Laser Smart Device that Helps Relieve Pain

The Willow Curve device has been designed to help manage pain that accompanies some common conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches. It works with the help of photonic and thermal energies that stimulate the healing process of the joints and surrounding tissues. Purportedly, the device has a diagnostic function that is able to make an assessment of each joint before the treatment commences. It is important to note that the scientific rigor of Willow Curve has been questioned, and some experts warn that there is a lack of credible evidence regarding Willow Curve efficacy.

4) Quell – A Wearable Sensor and App for Neuropathy

Quell uses advanced neurotechnology to provide optimal pain relief. Resembling a sports band, it is placed just below the knee and blocks pain signals with wearable intensive nerve simulation (WINS). Quell regulates the level of pain therapy the person needs and adjusts treatment based on activity level. It also detects when the user is asleep and switches to a gentler mode. The sensor connects to a companion mobile app, which tracks therapy and sleep patterns. The device has been approved by the FDA and offers prescription-strength technology. According to the manufacturer, 67 percent of users report a reduction in their use of pain medication and the device is purported to be effective after the first 15 minutes of use.

5) Mindfulness Meditation Apps for Pain Relief

Since pain often includes an emotional and psychological component — especially when it does not go away — different relaxation techniques can be useful in maintaining a positive attitude and controlling the pain. Many different apps and websites now offer valuable material and support tools for meditation practice. One example is the Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief app, designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues. Kabat-Zinn holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and after he was introduced to meditation, he decided to bring mindfulness into mainstream medicine.

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