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Wareable 05/18/2016

Easing the pain: Meet the wearables tackling pain relief

TENS Based Pain Relief Wearables

Quell is a strap that you wear around your leg that uses miniaturised TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) technology to reduce the perception of pain, delivering tiny electrical impulses that help drown out pain signals to the brain. The device works with disposable electrode pads that cost $29 a pack and need replacing every couple of weeks.

TENS technology has been around for years, but has only recently become available in mini wearable form, a distinct advantage since the TENS method only provides pain relief when the TENS machine or wearable is being used. You’re not likely to want to cart around a bulky conventional TENS machine 24/7.

Is there any proper evidence this technology works? According to the NHS, there isn’t enough quality scientific proof right now to state for sure that TENS is a reliable and effective method of pain relief. That said, anecdotal evidence is strong, and several respectable medical trials suggest that TENS can offer mild to moderate relief for some people, but not everyone.

Back constantly playing up? Prone to frequent headaches or stiff joints? If you’re nodding in agreement, then you’re far from alone. Just over one third of the UK population live with chronic pain and it’s a similarly big issue Stateside and in other parts of the world.

While conventional medications may dampen down the symptoms for many people, sufferers are always on the lookout for ways to calm their aches that don’t involve nasty side effects or a risk of dependence.

If you’re living with long-term pain, there’s a good chance you’ve tried everything from deep breathing to acupuncture to get some relief, but the latest pain-fighting wearables may have escaped your radar. Intended as a supplement to pain management rather than a painkiller replacement, these devices use miniaturised electrostimulation to dull the aches and twinges.

The idea is that by wearing a painkilling device, you can cut your dosage and reduce your reliance on medication. So what’s out there? We take a closer look at the current crop of wearables designed for pain relief.

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