back pain, chronic illness, chronic pain, health, injury, invisible disability, invisible illness, medical device, pain, pain management, pain relief, Quell, TENS unit
Comments 43

The Quell Pain Relief Device: One Year Later

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One year ago today, a beautiful relationship between man and machine began.

I shall weave my disclaimer into the story: This day last year, FedEx delivered the Quell pain relief device that I’d bought during their Indiegogo campaign. I hadn’t been contacted by the company to try it, and I paid for it with money that I earned. I keep several alerts on my news feeds, and I found it in a story about new medical devices that contained this slim, mostly unobtrusive wearable. It sounded too good to be true — it could produce endogenous opioids within my body, like natural versions of the medications I fought so hard each month to receive? All-over pain relief by wearing an electrode on the calf? I didn’t care if it sounded too good to be true. I had to try it.



And I have tried it for approximately 350 out of the past 365 days. About one week of that was when I transitioned to a work-from-home situation. My routine was so interrupted that I simply forgot to put it on. Believe me, I noticed those days but was too stupid to figure out what was different. The rest of the days were post-cervical fusion, so I was too medicated to care.

I have been wearing the Quell for a year now. What are my thoughts?

The Positives: Our Love Will Never Die

I wear this black athletic band-looking device every day on my pasty white legs because it absolutely works. It works so well.


My family’s part Irish. I can’t tan at gunpoint.

As I say to everyone on my blog, it doesn’t get rid of all the pain, but it dampens it enough that you can get on with your life and feel productive for a change. I can’t say that’s the same experience everyone would have; I’m sure those with pain at, for instance, a normal 9 out of 10 on the pain scale (10 being the worst), it might bring it down to a 6 or 7. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for anyone who’s had the lovely opportunity to describe their lives on a pain scale, they know that the difference between a 7 and 6 can be tremendous. It can mean a day out with friends. It can mean a romp in the sheets with hubby. It can mean throwing a baseball around with your kid for once without having to spend a day recovering.

It does wonders for my sciatica, my low-back pain, and a good portion of my mid-back and neck pain. I recommend the Quell to everyone in a similar or even distantly related situation, anyone who has chronic pain anywhere in the body (for some reason I think it draws the line at migraines, but that might be anecdotal; however, it did not do much for my cervicogenic headaches).

Pretty much everything else, though? Covered like a glorious numbing bandage. Anyone who emails me, I recommend it. I also instruct them to contact the Quell team for their specific ailments, because I have no idea what’s contraindicated beside the obvious, like pacemakers. But maybe even those can still be used simultaneously with this device! My point is that their team is ready and willing to answer all questions. They handled my idiocy with grace when I called a few months ago to ask why my replacement Quell wasn’t working (the slot for the charging cable became too loose in my first edition device, so they sent a free replacement under my warranty). It wasn’t working because I hadn’t read the calibrating instructions correctly. The customer service representative was endlessly patient with me as I tried to figure out what “put your foot flat so your ankle is at a ninety-degree angle while calibrating” meant. Because, as we’ve established, I’m an idiot.

Hiding in a Snood.

J. W. Kain: Idiot, Esq.

Some people complain that the initial cost of the device ($249.00) and continuing cost of the electrodes is prohibitive (one month’s worth is $29.95). And yeah, that’s an initial punch. The offset is that I didn’t have to fight the medical and insurance systems to get it. My TENS unit was expensive even though it had been prescribed by a doctor and covered by insurance. Want to know why? They only covered the machine and not the ledes. IT DOESN’T WORK WITHOUT THE LEDES. Meanwhile, every TENS that I’ve tried doesn’t work as well as the Quell. 

So I buy the replacement electrodes with a smile because I know that they will bring relief. I don’t care what they cost. I don’t care that the machine isn’t covered by insurance. This is an investment that A.) is tax-deductible, so hey, I’ve got that goin’ for me, which is nice, and B.) actually works.

The Negatives: Any Relationship Quirks?


Hey. How you doin’.

The vain part of me still sometimes gets self-conscious when wearing the Quell, especially at events like weddings or just when I’m walking around in shorts. I can’t go without the device because I know how I’ll feel, and it’s not worth it — not even to wear the hottest dress at the wedding. Because of this vanity, I do one of two things: 1) I let the Quell dictate my outfit, which isn’t usually a bad idea; and 2) I showcase my blinding white legs complete with the black strap.


The Quell chose a fantastic outfit this time!

It’s changed my outfits, sure. Skinny pants are out, and many of my skirts just don’t work. I don’t exactly feel sexy while wearing it. If science were up to me, I would somehow translate this device into an adhesive Band-Aid-thin patch that contains a battery within the gel. I want to wear my skinny pants, guys!

Second problem: Should the calves become irritated or if you want to switch it up, you can wear the Quell above your knee. Maybe this works easier for men because their legs are narrower, but for women, we, uh — we have thighs. We might be, shall we say, voluptuous. This means that for me to keep the Quell strap in place when I wear it above the knee, I have to use safety pins to hold it there. Kind of MacGyver-ish, but this makes sense. He went to my alma mater. We think alike.

The only other problem? You can increase or decrease the intensity of the Quell by using the iPhone app (a recent update that I quite like and which is not the issue — heavens, no). By the way, I thought about the negatives for this section for a good five minutes, and the only other issue I have with the device is that the electrodes, when operating at a high intensity, can irritate the skin. I’ve had to turn mine up very high lately because of increased pain during a flare, and even though I don’t wear the Quell at night, my skin has an itchy rash where the electrodes rested during the day. Keep in mind I have this thing turned up to 11. I ended up buying lotion specifically designed for rashes, and I have to slather it on in a layer that slowly soaks in over about an hour before I go to bed. You have to keep switching up the placement of the electrode so that the skin can air out in between uses. Sometimes I get lazy about that, so it’s pretty much my own fault.

But seriously, it’s not even that big of a deal. What’s that you say, chronic pain patient? Itching and a distinct lack of skinny jeans are the only side effects? Done. Dealt with. I swear, I really had to think hard about this section. Like, yeah, the band is jet black. It can look weird when wearing it out and about. Nine out of ten people assume I have a knee injury. The tenth person asks what it is or — as I said a year ago — assume I am a felon with a very forgiving GPS tracking system. I am more than happy to explain that, no, I am not on parole. I’d wondered at one point whether a flesh-colored band would be better and less obvious, but then I realized it would look bizarre. Like some weird, lumpy growth. Better to make it obvious. Take the stride of pride.

Compliment Sandwich

In the end, I don’t care about itching or fashion or safety pins. I would endure the worst itching for this device. My legs could bleed and I’d still use it. I would wear a sleeve of safety pins like a high school goth. I’d wear a hoop skirt to cover my calves.


… Maybe not the hoop skirt.

But I’d certainly live without skinny jeans.

The Quell enables me to do so many things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I can go for long walks in the woods. I can go on spontaneous adventures with friends. I can work longer during the day. I can do more. For someone in my position, that is immeasurable. A few extra hours in the day means I can make money to pay bills or spend real time with my husband or see a friend I haven’t in seen in months. The Quell pain relief device means I can live more of my life. And that is worth everything.


  1. Josh Wrenn says

    You can tell it is working for you, because just the tone of your posts sound different. Which is great, by the way!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes. If you itemize your taxes, this would go on Schedule A. Over-the-counter medicines are not deductible (like Zyrtec or Tylenol), but medical EQUIPMENT is tax deductible. Source: I was an associate attorney who worked for two amazing tax attorneys. 🙂


      • Chloe Hobbes says

        Medical expenses are only tax deductible above 10% of your income.


  2. Dean lynn says

    Thank you. You answered every question I would have. The main question. Does it really help at all. Fibromyalgia,sjogrens and ALL that goes with the autoimmune world! I’ve found that talking my metal cane with me weather I need it or not helps with the people problem so I’m passed the vanity part. I had a teenager ask me if I really needed it or was it a fashion accessory!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paula Roth says

      I have fibro and I swear that it was I who wrote the above post! Except…I wear skinny jeans with mine. And, who knew one can wear it above the knee? The rash is stupid, but like J. W., I wear it anyway. Concerning pain relief, I still take tramadol, but have been able to cut my dose by a third and feel better because Quell cleans up the pain that the tramadol doesn’t handle. My fatigue is somewhat less because pain is tiring, but fibro IS fatigue as well as pain…and I am still very tired. Happier, though. The generous 60 day guarantee makes a trial run hard to turn down. I love the thing, just love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My darling Paula with the skinny jeans!! How’d you make it work with the lump under the pants? Or are you doing the stride of pride? Sometimes that’s what I do because I just don’t care and I want to wear what I want to wear. 🙂 I’m so glad you’ve been able to cut your Tramadol down! I think the tiredness will hopefully taper off as your pain gets under control. I’m glad you’re happier! I’m happy for you, too! ❤


    • Hi Sara — I don’t know how much it would help tinnitus, but it would definitely help the fibro. After reading up on the body vibration disorder, it seems like it should help that — but I’d recommend asking the Quell peeps directly. They’re super nice and always ready to help. As for the fibro, though? Definitely should. A lot of my readers have had great success with it for that condition. Good luck, and please let me know if it works for you! 🙂


  3. Dawn says

    Hi Jen I have been trying quell out based in part on your recommendation and it really seems to be helping. I am experiencing some skin irritation also – could you share what lotion you are using? Is it helping? Thanks Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dawn! I’m so glad it’s helping. I ended up getting a couple different kinds — there’s a Nivea (sp?) in-shower moisturizer that I follow up with a lotion for rashes and itching (those are usually in a separate section of the pharmacy aisle, like the ones specifically for eczema). Neosporin makes a good one with oatmeal that’s technically for the face, but I’ve found it works really well on the legs. I let that soak in for a little bit before I put the Quell on. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dena says

    Will this help with a bulging disc and tendinitis in my back. How will it help if the devise is worn on the leg.


    • Hi Dena! I have several bulging discs in my back, and it helps me significantly. It gets me from a 9 on the pain scale down to at least a 6, which is enough for me to be a functioning human being. I’m not sure about tendonitis, but if you ask the Quell people, they’re always super helpful. It works on the leg because there’s a very large cluster of nerves behind the calf — the electrical signals hook in there and activate your body’s endogenous opioid system (the body’s way of creating its own natural opioids), which doesn’t interfere with any medications you take. If you decide to give it a whirl, please let me know how it goes!! 🙂


    • There’s a Neosporin lotion designed for eczema patients, I find if I use that a few times a day it keeps the rash down. Also change it up on the skin more often than the device indicates. Good luck! 🙂


      • Chloe Hobbes says

        Does the Neosporin lotion extend the life of the electrode pads? I am trying a gel for electrodes.


  5. Hi, I just got a Quell about 6 weeks ago and I don’t use it everyday, and not all day, and yet I got the rash on both legs! 😦 I (unfortunately) have stage 4 breast cancer, spread to multiple bones (vertebrae, ribs, etc…) and I get bone pain related to that…especially on cold, damp days. Thankfully some days I don’t need anything at all for pain. So, on the one leg I have not worn the device in days and the rash is still there! I have not tried any lotions, so I will. Do you think it could cause any permanent skin damage if I continue to wear it?


    • Hi Mary! I’m so sorry for all your pain, I can’t even imagine that. I’m running out the door now so quick answer, long one later — no, definitely no permanent skin damage. It just gets irritated the higher the electricity volts. I change the placement every 4 hours (longer if I get lazy) and every night I don’t wear it. I let the skin rest and use an Eczema cream with oatmeal, which gets it ready for the next day. I also just found this stuff called PRID which I want to try there, it’s an amazing salve which works on bumps and redness elsewhere, and now I want to try it there. But I found the Neosporin lotin works best:

      Good luck! I’ll write more soon!


  6. Melissa Clark says

    I was getting the itchy rash from my Quell too. I didsomepokingaround and on a website called Medmaxx the writer suggested gently rubbing a few drops of water into the electrodes and also I read stay well hydratedwhen using a tense unit.
    I gave it a try because it made sense to me. I had accidentally ordered the ‘sports’ electrodes (white gel) and that’s when I started getting the rashes. The description mentioned they stuck better because of a lower moisture content allowing them to tolerate sweating better. Anyway from here on I’m going to keep it stored in the zip closed package when it’s off and add just a few drops of water from my finger into the gel pads. It seems to drink it up quickly. Hope this helps you.


  7. Dave says

    Im glad i found ur page, bn using quell for about 6 months and have just about worn out the strap. i only take it off to shower…and have forgotten that a couple of times(oopsie] if it gets to irching i just put it on the other leg. Def works b nice if the electrpdes werent so high, but hey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’ve gone through about four straps by now (three years later). They stretch out too much. I started using safety pins because I didn’t want to spend money on another one, but it just looked so bad! I think the replacement is $25 anyway. Blehhhhh


      • Dave says

        One thing I would def change is those reminder pulses, I hate that would like to c it where u could turn it off in the settings


  8. Dave says

    Well my Quell gave up the ghost,might have gotten it wet. I really miss the little son of a…..gun. All is not lost the quell folks said they would send out a replacement right away,not quick enough for me though I know u feel me


  9. Roquin Gervot says

    Hi there!
    I wanted to introduce myself, have had fm/cfs 25+ years and am very tired of pain meds and their side effects. As so many others, living on a fixed income made trying out the QUELL unit a challenge.

    However I discovered I could purchase it from QVC by making monthly payments! (QVC is a national cable home shopping network). So anyone who can manage a $45 monthly deduction from a card can do this…ur credit rating makes no difference!! I have no affiliation with them except as a customer. QVC ph: (800)345-1515

    BTW I had to wait until QVC got more units in stock as when I first discovered they carry it on six payments, they were out. I believe they should have them now…

    I received mine two days ago and have high hopes it will help me so that I can reduce my meds plus be more active. I have read blog after blog where it has helped so many others.

    So i hope this info will be helpful for so many of us out there who simply cannot manage the $250 all at once!!




  10. Roquin Gervot says

    Just wondering what is taking so long to moderate my above post re where to get a Quell unit on payments? If u need to confirm info pls go to and look for quell. It takes two minutes. Also they answer phone 24/7, every day.

    I am just anxious to get this important info out to people who feel desperate to find a way to try Quell, as I did til I discovered this. BTW, during holiday time (now), if u purchase it on QVC, you have til January 31st to try unit and return it if it does not work for you, that is 90 plus days. And if you choose to return it, it is 100% money back…QVC is highly reputable and been around many many years and they stand firm behind their products and have a seriously stringent quality control department…

    Thanx much


  11. Have been reading all the posts. Got my device about a week ago. Purchased from Amazon, same price, same guarantee, (it is sold by the maker through Amazon) arrived in less than a week. Supplies also available there. Have been wearing day and night, switch legs back and forth. Still determining how much it is helping. Have so many chronic disorders, makes it hard to tell. Am giving it the full 60 days though. Used a tens unit on my low back for years, so have experience with this method. Think it will definitely help with some of my pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really hope it works for you! It can definitely be hard to parse apart which chronic condition it’s working for when you have more than one. I have the same issue sometimes. Keep me updated!! 😀 ❤


  12. Wonder if you ever lived with sore calves because of the frequent impulses. I seem to. So much so, I tend to limp a bit when using it or even a little after. But luckily it passes


  13. Lorie Fennessy says

    I was made aware of the quell unit by a friend of mine, who was diagnosed with a torn meniscus.
    She used it for 3 days and felt relief, so being a Multiple chronic disease and autoimmune disease recipient… I will try and have tried…everything.
    This somehow, brought me to your blog and I loved your personality torward your health issues… humor certainly helps, everything!
    I have subscribed and look forward to your posts and will let you know how it goes…
    I won’t begin the process until I recover from the flu and an ear infection on top of everything I seem to have.
    Thank you for the heads up about the rash, as I am quite sure, I will be a recipient of that, as well.
    Take care of yourself and I hope and pray that your pain relief, continues… as pain most definitely gets in the way of living your full life..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! Thanks so much for your comment and for the follow! I’m so sorry for everything you have to deal with. It can be so tiring, handling physical issues on top of, you know, LIFE. 🙂 And yeah, the rash isn’t terrible. I’ve actually found it’s the worst when I shave my legs. I don’t wear it at night, either, which lets my skin rest. Please let me know how it goes! I hope you feel better!! ❤


  14. My Quell came on Saturday and it has changed my life for the better. the only comment I would add to your post is that you need to be careful with lotions and shaving. I have not yet discovered which cause the issue but my Philosophy Grace lotion, or my bath lotion that caused the issue but trust me it was not a pleasant experience. Talk about burning. I’m glad you are feeling better with your Quell, I hope I continue to.


    • Oh no!! That is definitely good to know. I’ve found that if I don’t shave my legs, it feels much better. (And I don’t want like, a very particular ring of hair on my leg JUST for the Quell.) 😀 I’m so glad you are feeling better!!


  15. Kanyez says

    Hi, I have Fibromyalgia and I struggle more with the fatigue part. I do get severe pain if I work out too hard, but for the most part I get the occasional aches and pains and tension. The fatigue is what KILLS me. I’m only 33 and I feel like I’m 65. I would like to know how much the Quell helps with fatigue not related to severe pain. I do have high pain tolerance so maybe I’ve become sort of accustomed to the pain?-but my body is definitely not getting the rest it needs. I can honestly say I never feel well-rested, I just force myself to push through my day-to-day activities. I would like to know if the fatigue would improve according to other reviews before I purchase the unit. Thank you in advance!!


    • Hi Kanyez – I’m so sorry about the fibro and the fatigue. I think the Quell would help for a condition like yours. I checked their website, and others with fibromyalgia said it helps:

      I think it just helps calm everything down. It’s not like I don’t feel pain all over my body; it’s just that wearing this makes it easier to deal with. I definitely have more energy, too, since I’m not so exhausted dealing with pain every second of every day. Year 3 of wearing it and going strong! 🙂

      I know they have a 60-day trial period, and you can return it if it doesn’t work. You’ll know WAY before 60 days if it works (I think I was 15 minutes?). Give it a whirl and let me know if you like it! ❤


  16. Jacky Brown says

    My mother tried it but now it is burning her leg every time she puts it on. I can reduce the power since it seems stuck at full. Seems there is no factory reset or a way to lower the power without wearing it and burning yourself in doing so.


    • Ahhh!! That’s not good. What does the app say? Maybe you should talk to their help center, they’re super quick about replacing defective units if that’s what this ends up being.


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