(CBS) — Pill after pill after pill, some people in pain will do almost anything for a little relief.
But what if you didn’t have to take a pill? What if you could wear a device to stimulate your own natural pain relievers? CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez takes a look at how it works. It’s called Quell.
“You can wear it all day basically forget about it, and it’s helping you relieve pain,” said Frank McGillin of Neurometrix, Inc. “It basically stimulates sensory nerves in your leg which triggers the release of endogenous opioids, and those are the body’s natural pain relievers. They block pain throughout the body.”
Simply put, it uses the body’s central nervous system to relieve pain.
“People are using it for arthritis, nerve pain, painful diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, sciatica, lower back pain,” McGillin said.
Dave Anderson was taking up to 12 ibuprofen pill a day so he could keep playing squash.
“My physician told me to stop taking the ibuprofen and I said, I gotta start doing something else,” he said.
So he tried the Quell device.
“I am not taking any more ibuprofen,” Anderson said. “It’s completely controlled the daily pain that I was having.”
People are looking for drug-free pain relief because frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen –known as NSAIDS — can have side effects including ulcers and kidney failure. Stronger drugs like oxycodone carry the risk of addiction.
Researchers believe those strong narcotics have other serious drawbacks.
“They are finding that there are other organ systems affected, the heart, the bones, and these are long term consequences,” said pain specialist, Dr. Anthony Lee.
The Quell system is over-the-counter and cost about $250. The company website says it’s cleared by the FDA, meaning it’s safe. That’s different from FDA approved which indicates effectiveness for a particular condition.
“They also state that this product is not intended to diagnose treat or cure any disease,” said Dr. Jack Kabazie.
Kabazie prefers to go with FDA approved devices such as spinal cord stimulators and Tens units rather than Quell.
But, Dave Anderson says Quell has worked for him and he’s used to wearing it.
“You know its there but you just sort of forget about it over time,” he said.
The Quell website has many comments for people who say it has worked for them, but there are also comments from people who say they did not get relief from it.
The main side-effect from Quell is skin irritation.