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BottomLine 05/02/2016

To Fight Chronic Pain, Wear This Under Your Clothes

Chronic pain can be insidious. But what if you could relieve chronic pain almost anywhere in your body just by wearing a discreet band on your leg?

There is a new product on the market that makes that claim—and believe it or not, it has received FDA approval.

Anytime there’s a way for our readers to get help with chronic pain that doesn’t involve dangerous painkilling drugs or other risky or unproven methods, we’re all over it. So we took a good look at this product.

It’s called Quell, and it’s a band that you strap around your lower leg to stop pain you’re feeling in your neck, back, shoulder and elsewhere on your body (although it doesn’t work for headaches). The device, designed by researchers from MIT and Harvard, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device that can be sold to the public without a prescription for relief of chronic pain. It can be used while you’re awake and/or while you’re sleeping.

Gary Kaye, the founder and chief content officer of Tech50+, a website that covers consumer electronics–related topics for people over age 50, called our attention to the new device. “It’s very good for people who have chronic pain. Of course, it won’t ameliorate the condition that may be causing your pain, but it can reduce the pain you feel.” (Kaye has no financial stake in this or any of the devices he reviews.)


The basic technology underlying the Quell device has been around for decades—transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). If you’ve had physical therapy, you may have had TENS—tiny electrodes attached to your body and hooked up to a battery pack deliver a tingling sensation. These neural pulses are believed to release natural brain chemicals that block pain signals.

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