My long-awaited Quell pain relief device has finally arrived!
As soon as I saw the FedEx truck rumble by, I heaved myself out of my chair and hurried to the front door, hoping to see that plain, unassuming box sitting on the front step. There it was, as I’d dreamed for months. I basically ripped it open with my teeth.
This was 0.02 seconds after FedEx dropped off the package.
I backed the Quell IndieGogo the moment I discovered it during the winter; it had already tripled its $100,000 goal. At this point my fairly useless pain clinic says I have exhausted most of my options in terms of what they can provide, unless I want to try an IV lidocaine/ketamine mix. I had the IV lidocaine infusion two weeks ago, and the aftermath was nothing short of a pain-riddled disaster. I’m grasping at straws here.
Quell makes grand promises in its sleek promotional video. As PSFK said:
TENS systems aren’t new in the market but Quell’s prescription-free, user-friendly and discrete approach is special. The Quell, no matter where the body pain is, could be left strapped at the calf where there is an abundance of nerve endings. It can also be worn 24/7 to provide round the clock pain relief.
I drowned in their website, seeking every bit of information I could. How was this device different than others on the market? How is it different than the TENS unit I already own? There are already devices worn on the calf that treat sciatica and other lower-body ailments. There are an abundance of nerve endings in that area, so it makes sense — but how can it reach the upper half of the body?
The Quell device claims to treat the entire body, producing a natural opioid-like effect through the use of electro-stimulation. It can give you relief day or night, switching on for 60-minute therapy sessions (it switches off after an hour in order to keep the user from developing resistance and switches to 80 percent power when the user is asleep). As they say on their website FAQ:
How is Quell different than other TENS devices?
Quell’s proven wearable intensive nerve stimulation (WINS) technology is double the strength of other products on the market today, enabling the device to trigger broad pain relief that covers other areas of your body. Quell’s OptiTherapy™ calibrates to your optimal stimulation level ensuring you receive maximum relief.
As it turned out, I didn’t care that I had no understanding of its schematics. I dove right in past the technical specs and the glowing media reviews.
Let’s look inside!
The Quell electrode, which snaps into the calf band, lasts for two weeks. Replacement electrodes cost $30. As the Quell is available over the counter for $250 and does not require a prescription, insurance will currently not cover the device or its electrodes.
I got the Quell out of the box and set up in three minutes.
Some Fattie for all of you cat lovers out there. Surprisingly, we bought the couch without realizing that she blends into it.
The Quell is currently strapped onto my leg. I can feel the gentle TENS-like vibration against my calf. According to the manual, the device can provide relief in 15 minutes. The synced iPhone app states that I have had it on for 30 minutes as of this writing, but I am also reclining in a chair. I am going to attempt some movement and report back.
… FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER …
I love this device, and no, I’m not being paid for this blog post. I have 11 minutes left of my first 60-minute session. I just did some gentle yoga to test my range of motion and then enjoyed lunch on the back porch, sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair without much trouble. I can still feel the pain in my back and neck, but it feels removed. Like there’s a layer of fluffy gauze in between us. It’s like I am disconnected from my body. The tingling on my calf was distracting at first, but now it feels reassuring, telling me that something is working.
Honestly, I have no idea how this device is different than others. I know what the company says, but I don’t get how it operates. It uses “well-established TENS technology,” and I have a TENS unit. It does not feel like this, but it is somehow utilizing the same technology. The Boston Globe looked into this:
A TENS machine sends low-voltage electricity through the patient’s nervous system. In response, the patient’s body increases its output of endorphins and enkephalins, two naturally occurring chemicals that tend to reduce pain. The treatment can be an effective alternative to drugs and poses no risk of addiction.
Basically, it’s a super-TENS. It uses the cluster of nerves in the calf to send pain-blocking signals all over the body. Even after a session ends, the effect is supposed to continue for up to 40 minutes. It is to be used as a complement to a patient’s normal medication regimen, boosting up those effects and filling the gap that is not covered by traditional prescriptions or methodologies.
And now, as I check the iPhone app: “Next therapy: 18 minutes away.” I am going to keep monitoring its effects. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee, since TENS devices don’t always work for everyone. However, I am feeling very optimistic about this product and am looking forward to that next therapy session.