Photo Courtesy: Taken from Quell's website, above you will find the placement of the device on a fellow Backer, Pearl (more on her in a bit).
Can you imagine a day when you don't need to pop a pill to get pain relief? As 78 people continue to die from an opioid-related overdose every 24 hours, the chronic pain community is in desperate need of an opioid alternative.
Well, that day may be closer than we think and we owe that to a device named Quell.
What Does That Mean?
Quell is a wearable, drug-free, FDA-approved device that attaches to your upper calf or above your knee with Velcro, which surrounds a cluster of nerves. This technology provides electrical stimulation to exhibit pain relief minus any inherent vulnerabilities that are addiction and dependence.
Photo Courtesy: Taken from Quell's website, this is the device in real time.
To be honest, the physics behind it is pretty complicated, however, the fundamental philosophy makes complete sense to any nonscientist.
By stimulating specific nerves, we can activate our natural pain-relief system because we already have one in our bodies. So this device essentially allows us to manufacture our own system of painkillers.
"At a molecular level, the pain centers within the brain release endogenous opioids, called enkephalins, that bind to receptors in the spinal cord leading to a reduction of pain signal transmission and therefore pain relief," remarks Shai Gozani, CEO of NeuroMetrix.
Where's the Proof?
We can read statistics and numbers through our computer screens all day but sometimes we need the real deal. In this case, we sought for an actual Backer who uses the Quell. And upon our search, we found a woman named Pearl who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome with neuralgia and joint remodeling back in 2006.
“I’ve tried a lot of things," Pearl acknowledged. "Physical therapy, acupuncture, heat, cold, massage, Pilates, yoga, weeks of mindfulness meditation therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, changing to a backpack, foam rolling and self-massage, regular cardio, stretching, rolfing, a standing desk, switching to a different mouse, hot baths, memory foam pillows, and Advil.”
She admits having seen over 10 specialists in the past decade, who all told her the problem was likely exacerbated by repetitive tension from redundant computer use and sitting at a desk for hours on end (a.k.a an activity most of us can relate to).
Pearl's main issue is that her chronic pain constantly distracts her by getting in the way of working, sleeping, and participating in social engagements.
“It’s a background irritant," she recalled, "It’s always there.”
To test this wearable device, for 30 days Pearl wore her Quell as needed. During that time, she ended up using it nearly every day, normally in the evenings while sleeping, for an average of four or five 60-minute sessions per 24 hours.
7 Things You Need to Know
“First and foremost, it lessens my pain to the point where it doesn't become super bad on any given day," Pearl details. "That's something I haven't been able to predict for years.”
Photo Courtesy: This is the Quell Starter Kit.
Each Starter Kit includes:
- 1 Quell device
- 1 adjustable sports band
- 1 month supply of electrodes (2 electrodes)
- 1 charger cable and 1 charger adapter
“The app makes it easy to adjust intensity. The interface makes it easy to visually see whether you've upped or downed the intensity,” said Pearl.
Using Bluetooth technology that pairs to the app on your smartphone or tablet, it enables the user to see exactly what is happening on the actual Quell. It takes away human error. So, you'll know if you hit a button too few or too many times and if you are hitting the correct switch.
“This is useful because if I’m just using the button on the device to control it, I’m sometimes not sure if I hit the right sequence to do what I wanted,” she said.
“The battery lasts a few days through my typical usage. It’s very nice that you don't have to charge it every day," Pearl revealed. "It also works with a standard, non-proprietary charger.”
“It’s compact and easy to carry with me. Air travel was no problem,” she affirmed. “It went through TSA scanners fine with no questions asked.”
Counts Your Sheep
Pearl discloses that the sleep tracking option provides useful information. Plus, it even detects what side you sleep on and for how long. She gave us no inclination that it in any way disrupted her sleep or ability to go to bed.
“It isn't covered by my insurance,” she reported. “Though with the way insurance companies use bureaucratic red tape and nontransparent processes for obtaining coverage for certain medical devices, the jury’s out on whether this is actually a con.”
As Quell was FDA cleared for sale without a prescription, most insurance companies will not cover the cost directly, however, patients may be eligible to apply the cost towards their Flexible Spending Account (FSA). We recommend that patients check with their insurance provider to find out more information. So, while you wait to hear back, read up on their clinician's page. Then, head over to quellrelief.com because BackerNation readers get $25 off a Quell Starter kit with promo code “BACKERNATION2017”.
“Like many medical devices, this one has both durable and disposable components,” she disclosed. “You do have to replace the disposable electrodes after two weeks.”
If you're in need of an electrode refill, Quell is actually having a promotion. You can buy a three-pack of the standard or sport electrodes, and receive a one-month supply FREE. All orders over $50 ship free – contiguous to the U.S. only.
Pearl is inspired by the outcome. Even though it's not a cure and she is apt to denote that pain is a profoundly individual experience —meaning, her results may differ from someone else but her takeaway speaks volumes.
"I would definitely recommend the Quell for people like me,” Pearl proclaimed. “I will continue to use it.”
She expresses her response to it as almost Pavlovian (automatic) because the device conditioned her to immediately reach for it when her pain flared up.
"Overall, it has noticeably improved my quality of life. I sleep better, and find myself instinctively reaching for it when I feel a bout of pain coming," she concluded.
When can we get ours?
The Quell uses Bluetooth technology in order to sync with a compatible mobile application that enables users to turn the intensity up or down, depending on pain relief needs. The device's starter kit costs $250, which includes a one-month stock of electrodes. Replacement electrodes run at $90 for a three-month supply. And, if you are a U.S. resident, all orders over $50 ship free. To purchase your very own Quell, click here.