7 Technological Solutions to Help with Pain Management
Over the past few decades, technology has been trying to make life more bearable for those who suffer from intense or chronic pain. With the public’s current awareness of the seriousness of opioid addiction and the negative side effects of long-term medicinal consumption, patients with chronic pain have been trying to find other solutions. Recent technological advances have introduced several groups of pain management devices and technology to alleviate intense and chronic pain.
Virtual reality technology has been a medical possibility for the past decade. Many researchers believe that virtual reality can change the medical industry. According to PRA Health Sciences, one of virtual reality’s triumphs this year has been using virtual reality for pain management. One of the most promising ways to use virtual reality to treat pain is by using it as a form of distraction therapy. An individual focused on a pleasurable virtual environment devotes less attention is processing pain.
With the current focus on opioid overdose, consumers have been trying to find alternatives to beat chronic pain. The current technologies available include wearables that block pain. According to Wareable, wearables are a new category of high-tech pain-relief devices, and many of them are receiving good reviews from those looking for something that is effective, non-addictive and cost-effective compared to a lifetime of medication.
Reliefband Neurowave is a wearable wristband that can combat nausea resulting from motion sickness, VR gaming and pregnancy. Pulses are emitted from the wristband that stimulates the vagus nerve within the wrist that triggers nausea sensations in the brain. The band offers five intensity options, and users can choose the intensity that they are able to handle.
The NeuroMetrix Quell is an over-the-counter pain management system designed for chronic neuropathy pain. Since its launch in 2016, the NeuroMetrix Quell has been a slightly more expensive option to improve the livelihood of people suffering from diabetic neuropathy. The Quell is a lightweight unit that is worn around the calf and can easily be concealed underneath clothing. It pairs with a downloadable mobile app and can be used to send pulses to nerves to trigger pain-relief sensations. The app can track battery life, treatment history and the available remaining treatments.
HEAT Pain Pro TENS Device
According to Techcare Massager, aTENS device is also called a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine. The HEAT Pain Pro TENS device uses electrode pads that are pressed onto the skin to send tingling pulses to the nerves under the skin where it stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers. These pulses can also temporarily block pain messages from reaching our brain. TENS devices have no medicinal side effects and can be used during physical therapy sessions or at home. The TENS device can be used for almost all types of chronic pain.
Essential Oil Diffusion
Essential oils have long been associated with the alleviation of pain and stress. The advantages of using essential oils are that essential oils are natural and often have fewer side effects. Essential oils have been used for centuries as home remedies for chronic pain caused by arthritis, back pain, headaches, migraines, stress and anxiety and more.
Several highly effective essential oils for pain include:
- Lavender essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
- CBD oil
According to Kats Botanicals, the oil with perhaps the best record for pain management is CBD, but that is generally not diffused or applied in the same manner. While essential oils can be massaged onto your skin or diffused into the air and inhaled, CBD oils are normally ingested. Technology has made many of these oils more accessible and easier to dispense.
The four main types of essential oil diffusers are:
- Nebulizing diffusers – Nebulizing diffusers are like perfume atomizers and typically have timers to release a spray of essential oil droplets into the air. This is often thought to be the best way to dispense essential oils.
- Ultrasonic diffusers – Ultrasonic diffusers use an electric pulse to distribute microparticles of essential oils into the air. This is currently the most popular method to dispense oils because no heat is applied. Essential oil microparticles are dispensed as a cold mist into the room.
- Evaporative diffusers – Evaporative diffusers use an internal fan to blow vapors of the essential oil into the room.
- Heat diffusers – Heat diffusers use a heat source to heat the essential oils, and the vapors are released into the air. This method is commonly used for meditation and relaxation. There are no medical benefits to inhaling essential oils using this method. Although the heat enhances the aromatherapy aspect of the oils, it reduces their medicinal benefits.
StimQ Peripheral Nerve Stimulator
Stimwave received the Food and Drug Administration clearance back in 2016 to begin marketing the StimQ Peripheral Nerve Stimulator to consumers. According to Stimwave, the StimQ Peripheral Nerve Stimulator is a wireless implant to be inserted next to the location of the peripheral nerve that causes chronic pain. The system can provide relief from chronic pain as an alternative solution to opioids ingestion. Stimwave claims that this is a safe, cost-effective solution as opposed to managing opioid addiction and its symptoms.
The StimQ Peripheral Nerve Stimulator should only be used for pain caused by the peripheral nervous system such as:
- Mid-back and lower-back pain
- Chest pain
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
- Lower extremity pain—including the knee, ankle, and foot.
The stimulator is implanted and then wirelessly controlled. An external unit activates the implant to emit pulses to nearby peripheral nerves and helps to minimize chronic pain.
The Food and Drug Administration has been clearing many technological devices to the consumer market in an effort to encourage the development of safe products for pain management. Increased awareness of opioid addiction has nudged consumers to search for alternate, healthier ways to deal with long-term pain. With VR and wearables leading the market, more solutions are expected to help make people’s lives easier and pain-free without the adverse effects of pain medication.