With opioid epidemic on the rise, medical researchers and professionals are continuously on the lookout for alternative methods to provide relief to patients with chronic pain. In this article, Dr. Tom Macek shares with you the five breakthrough technologies that are helping patients manage their pain.
1. HEAT Pain Pro™ TENS Device
The HEAT Pain Pro combines heat with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS to relieve chronic muscle and joint pain. The most remarkable thing about this device is that it is available over the counter at any drug store.
TENS provide pain relief by transmitting electrical pulses across the skin and alongside nerves, therefore, preventing the brain from receiving any pain signals. The electrical stimulation also releases endorphins in the body which are a natural pain reliever.
Even though this technique is already in use by physical therapists around the world, the HEAT Pain Pro is the first device of its kind available for consumers. Before the advent of this technology, TENS was only conducted by doctors and health care specialists.
2. Radiofrequency Ablation Devices
Radiofrequency therapy is the use of medium frequency (350-500 kHz) alternating current device to generate heat and enervate tissues that make up the peripheral nervous system. If the therapy is completed using a catheter then we call it radiofrequency catheter ablation. This process is minimally invasive and a substitute for surgery.
The demand for radiofrequency ablation is projected to increase in the near future due to the increasing numbers of people suffering from chronic pain and the steadily rising population of geriatric patients. A study conducted by researchers in 2014 revealed that more than half the patients from a group of 77 felt relief from pain for up to 6 months following the radiofrequency therapy.
The pros of choosing this technology include avoiding all complications, recovery time and adverse effects related to surgery. Another added benefit is that the device is easily available and cost-efficient.
Another non-invasive is the electroceutical device ActiPatch that makes the use of electromagnetic fields to moderate nerve activity and reduce the perception of pain by the human brain. The device sends signals at a frequency of 1 kHz into the site of pain to keep the brain from getting used to the stimulus.
4. BurstDR Stimulation
BurstDR was designed by a physician to simulate the spinal cord by providing “bursts” of pulses with patterns similar to natural nerve impulse which is what distinguishes it from other spinal cord simulations (SCS).
This technology introduced the burst mode to keep the human body from adapting to SCS therapy and becoming tolerant to the simulation which is a common problem with SCS.
5. Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality environments engage patients in a full-body sensory experience. They are different from the usual movies and games because there are more interactions and immersions of the individuals and VR requires maximum attention from the brain.
Patients are made to wear VR headsets and dive into a 360-degree world of “Cool” where they can toss fish and play with otters in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
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