By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new kind of pain relief that’s wearable? Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows us an FDA-cleared alternative to taking medication or having procedures.
Playing squash is just one of the many sports David Anderson loves, but all the activity has taken a toll.
David suffers from “general degeneration of one or more of the joints in my right leg,” he said. “Whether it’s the hip, the spine, we don’t really know.”
The constant pain forced the 63-year-old to limit activities and depend on up to 12 ibuprofen pills a day.
David was relieved to find a simple solution. It’s called Quell, a wearable pain relief device.
“I think it’s amazing engineering,” David said.
It’s a slim, battery-powered band implanted with electrodes and worn around the calf. The electrical nerve stimulation can block pain signals.
“It does it by tapping into your central nervous system,” said Frank McGillin, who is with NeuroMetrix Inc., the company that makes Quell.
McGillin says it works for chronic pain caused by a number of conditions, including sciatica and osteoarthritis.
“It basically stimulates sensory nerves in your legs, which triggers the release of endogenous opioids, and those are the body’s natural pain relievers,” McGillin said. “They block pain throughout the body.”
David, who lives and works on the Main Line, says there’s a slight tingling sensation when he wears the device. He wears it eight hours every day. It automatically cycles on and off.
“It doesn’t bother you in any way, but you know it’s doing something to affect the pain,” David said.
Some people can experience skin irritation, but for David, who has been using it since June, the device has significantly reduced his pain and even works when he’s not wearing it.
“It’s completely controlled the daily pain that I was having, and it has allowed me to a much faster recovery after physical exercise,” David said. “It certainly has worked for me.”
The Quell device costs $250 and $30 a month for replacement electrode strips. While nerve stimulation is proven for pain relief, it doesn’t work for everyone, so there’s a money-back guarantee.