Pain medicine, rest, stretches, massage, CBD are some great methods used to treat pain, but have you ever considered using the power of energy for pain relief? Energy medicine (EM) is an integrative form of medicine that utilizes various forms of energy, such as electromagnetism, vibration and light. These various forms of energy can be used to treat painful conditions and are another great option to provide some relief.
The idea behind EM is that by administering energy to a bodily location, the condition that is causing pain can be disrupted and allow the body return to homeostasis. With various energy forms of differing frequencies, a variety of conditions may be successfully treated or, at least, may be alleviated or better managed.
Wearable Medical Devices
If you’re ready to try a new method of pain relief, consider a wearable medical device. Wearable devices are non-invasive gadgets that administer various electrical frequencies to the wearer. By doing so, painful conditions are able to be alleviated for some time after and even can provide lasting results. Various types of wearable pain devices are available on the market and provide different benefits, with varying costs depending on what you want to gain from using the device. Some devices can be worn on the go, so you can go about your day while receiving some relief. Others can be used at home, in an effort to provide the most relaxing experience while getting relief for pain. The large array of products that are available to us allows us to ‘customize’ a wearable device that will best provide relief for pain.
But before we talk about some products on the market, how exactly does a wearable device that uses energy work?
While electrical stimulation to treat pain seems like a novel concept, electrical waves have been used as a method of treating pain for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians may have used electric eels from the Nile for pain alleviation! A much more modern device, called TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), has been used by healthcare providers for years as a palliative pain treatment. The use of electrical stimulation for painful conditions is thought to work via the Pain Gate Theory. This long-accepted theory describes how sensations (like pain) are perceived in the body. Different nerve fibers transmit signals of sensation to the brain, allowing us to perceive a sensation. Type A-beta fibers are large fibers that transmit non-painful signals, such as pressure and vibration, while Type A-delta and Type C fibers carry the dreaded sensation of pain to the brain. If type A-beta fibers can be activated, it will “override” the sensations that are being transmitted from the pain-perceiving. Other wearable devices work in a similar fashion, with utilizing different frequencies and settings to target different areas. For more information on healing through energy, check out one of our earlier blogs, Impacting Microcirculation to Improve Performance, Pain Relief, and Overall Health.
While there is still some uncertainty to how it works, electrical stimulation has been found to provide pain alleviation. In one study conducted in 2015, participants with fibromyalgia reported drastic improvements after using a wearable device for 10 sessions: 90% of participants reported significant improvement in painful symptoms, 90% reported better sleep, 74% reported decreasing pain medication, with 24% of stopping its use altogether (Naghdi, et al., 2015)! Another study conducted in 2018 on participants with chronic low back pain also reported a significant improvement in painful symptoms and sleep quality after using the Quell wearable device for 12 weeks (Jamison, et al., 2019). Even though these two studies had wearable devices that used different settings for frequency and energy, the great results for participants suggests the effectiveness of such devices.
Another energy than can be utilized with a wearable device involves vibrational therapy. This involves the application of mechanical oscillations to the body in order to provide beneficial mechanical stress (while sinister sounding, it is a good thing!) When we partake in weight bearing activity, from easier walking to more intense weight lifting, our tissues undergo dynamic loading from the “stress” caused by these activities and are prompted to remodel, resulting in stronger, healthy bone and muscle tissues. While the mechanism is not fully understood, vibration therapy is thought to elicit physiological processes similar to remodeling as with weight bearing activity (Thompson et al, 2014). A recent 2019 review concluded vibration therapy is effective at improving muscle flexibility and may also improve tendon stiffness (Fowler et al.)
Will my insurance cover these devices?
Supported by findings in new research, wearable devices might be an option for you to try for pain relief. And it gets better-- a lot of these wearable devices might be covered by insurance. Depending on your insurance plan, condition and recommendation by doctor, insurance might be able to cover part or all of the cost. So be sure to check with your provider, payer, and/or employer to learn if this is something that you can take advantage of. Also, don't forget that if you have an HSA or FSA, you likely can use those pre-tax dollars to purchase medical devices like those listed below, and that if your company or health plan offers additional incentive dollars for health and wellness, you may be able to use that money too.
Now, onto our list of wearable devices to try:
What it can be used for: leg, foot and knee pain, back pain
What we like about it: Rechargeable batteries and slim design allow it to be worn on the go and throughout your day. Financing options are available to make less costly upfront.
Testimonial: I cannot put into words just how wonderful of a product that Quell (and the Quell Sport Electrodes) have been. The electrodes are long lasting and for that alone, they are worth every dollar. … Now, on the Quell itself: no more pain medication… activity through the roof… back to being normal… well, just let me say that it was the best money I have EVER SPENT, hands down!! Thank you Quell! - Keith W.
What it can be used for: Chronic, acute and arthritis pain as well as muscle soreness from overexertion. Healy also offers non-medical applications such as mind and body balance, which may in effect alleviate pain as well.
Cost: $470 – $1413
(Cost increases with various programs offered, such as pain, relaxation, meridians, etc.)
What we like about it: Each device offers a variety of treatment options, whether you want to treat pain, achieve more relaxation, improve sleep and mental balance, or improve chakra harmonization, you have so many options to explore! It’s small, compact design also allows for easy transport and on the go treatment if desired.
Testimonial: Join this Facebook group, The Frequency Experience, for hundreds, if not thousands of testimonials.
What it can be used for: BEMER improves circulation or blood flow to any targeted area of the body to assist in muscular recovery, performance, and healing in fatigue. Check out Dr. Jim Weathers’ Youtube Channel, BEMERSportsDr, for videos on what it treats, how, and some testimonials.
Cost: Many chiropractors and other healthcare professionals incorporate BEMER into their treatment plans, so you may seek out a professional who will use it in your care plan for an additional fee or included in your treatment package. You may also purchase your own device for about $4890 for a unit, but the website is offering an introductory price of $3990.
What we like about it: The breadth of muscular functions for which the device can improve and the speed at which you are able to realize results! With only 8-20 minutes recommended
for each session, this treatment is quick and many people have immediate results.
Testimonial: “In snowboarding, you take a lot of slams, and I couldn’t be happier with this partnership. I don’t go snowboarding without using my BEMER first, and I don’t go to the gym without using it first either. It’s been great for my muscles, for my spine, my energy, and, most importantly, my recovery.”
– Louie Vito, Professional Snowboarding, Olympian, and Winter X Games Competitor
**We have a great podcast that goes into depth about the BEMER device. Click here to listen and learn more about this device.
What it can be used for: Pain symptoms, hearing impairment, relaxation, inflammation, diabetes, and more
What we like about it: HiFi is more than a medical device, it is an experience. It give you the feeling of sitting in a movie theater when plugged into the amplifier on your TV while watching a favorite TV show, movie, or concert because you actually feel the theatrical effect. You can also plug it into music and feel like you are a concert with the vibrations matching the bass and sound wave. It is unlike anything else!
Testimonial: “We have been using the HiFiVibe vibrating frequency generator for more than a year and it has made a significant difference in our lives. Setting specific frequencies for particular uses works so well to ameliorate pain, we regret not purchasing the device sooner. And for general relaxation and stress reduction, there’s nothing better.” – Mark Levy, Esq. and Arlene Mantin Levy, RN
What it can be used for: This is another TENS device that can be used for a variety of conditions. The entire list of conditions that can be treated can be found on their website, but we’ll list a few here: bursitis, muscle soreness, diverticulitis, back pain, etc.
What we like about it: A less costly option! Also rechargeable batteries and slim design allow it to be worn on the go.
Testimonial: I fell 2 stories at age 3, and my pain got so bad as an adult that I couldn't do a lot of everyday things. I've been using my iTENS for about 4 months now. I'm able to finally sit through SS and church service. I can go on car rides to visit friends and family. I end up turning it up pretty high the longer I sit, but it helps a lot! It's given me some of my life back <3? Thank you iTENS!!! - Kasey S.
Wrapping it up!
Because pain is so subjective, there is not just one method that provides superior relief for the collective. With our pain being so individualized, it might require trying some different methods and interventions to see what works best for you. If you are interested in a wearable device, remember not to get discouraged if you do not find relief after the first try. It might take different lengths of time wearing the device, trying different protocols, or perhaps even a new device altogether. A lot of these companies offer 30 day guarantees, which allows you to shop around and find the device that works best for you! We highly recommend getting devices with trial periods or guarantees especially when the device requires a big investment because what works for one person may not work for you.
As this is a new, emerging field of pain relief, future studies are warranted to identify various components, but the current findings show promising preliminary results. So if you’re ready to give the newest pain relief technology a try, go for it! You might find some serious relief using a wearable pain device!
This article and the products noted in it are not intended to provide any medical advice or services. As such, they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It should not be used for any purpose other than as described on their user manuals or website. Please consult your own healthcare provider if you have any medical issues.
Fowler, BD, Palombo, KTM, Feland, JB, and Blotter, JD. (2019). Effects of Whole-Body
Vibration on Flexibility and Stiffness: A Literature Review. International Journal of
Exercise Science, 12(3): 735-747
Jamison, Robert N., Wan, Limeng., Edwards, Robert R., Mei, Anna., Ross, Edgar L. Outcome of
a High-Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (hfTENS) Device for Low
Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. 2019. World Institute of Pain, Pain Practice, Volume 19, Issue 5, 466–475. Doi: 10.1111/papr.12764.
Naghdi, L., Ahonen, H., Macario, P., Bartel, L., The effect of low- frequency sound stimulation
on patients with fibromyalgia: A clinical study. 2015. Pain Research Management. Vol
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Ross, Christina L. Energy Medicine: Current Status and Future Perspectives. 2019. Global
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Thompson, WR, Yen, SS, and Rubin, J. (2014). Vibration therapy: clinical applications in bone.
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