Okay team, we have some good news. Another option for treating your interstitial cystitis flares is out there and available over-the-counter. Yay for more options that are non-pharmaceutical!
It’s called Quell and it is another TENs product with some really cool upgrades. In fact, Quell was featured in the AARP October/November magazine on technological advances in health and medicine as well as Fortune Magazine. It also has awesome reviews on Amazon, consumer reports, facebook and The Grommet.
To review, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has a long and well-documented history of use in mainstream rehab medicine and chronic pain clinics. And when I say “long”, I’m talking about decades.
For those of you who are new to TENS, here is a brief explanation of how it works to control pain.
TENS uses electrodes placed on the skin to send an electrical current to the nerves in order to control pain. It can be applied with varying frequencies that range from low (typically < 10 Hz) to high (typically > 50 Hz).
The intensity level of TENS can vary from sensory to motor. Sensory intensity is usually delivered at a lower intensity level. You will feel a strong but painless sensation without any motor contractions (like a muscle contraction). Motor intensity usually occurs at the lower frequencies and will involve a painless motor contraction.
Regardless of the intensity used, research has shown that high and low frequencies both activate opioid receptors—high-frequency TENS activates δ-opioid receptors and low-frequency TENS activates μ-opioid receptors) in the spinal cord and the brainstem to produce analgesia.
This is a good thing. Opioid receptor engagement without an opioid! YAY!
Why? Because this technology has the potential to help a lot of IC sufferers with their chronic pain. Maybe not everyone, but because the majority of patients aren’t getting relief from current medical treatments for Interstitial Cystitis, anything that helps some of us is worthy of attention.
Especially if it means we can avoid taking medications that cause sucky side effects.
So what makes Quell different than other TENs units? Quite a bit. So let’s dive in.
So, what the Quell?
Quell is a TENS device that you wear on your calf that treats pain throughout your body. It uses both biphasic and symmetrical stimulation pulse waveforms to achieve maximum stimulation efficiency. Which is basically fancy talk for “trust us, we know how to make this work really well!”
Quell is FDA-approved for both day and night time use and uses Bluetooth to sync up with its own mobile app. The Quell app is key to why we are so excited about this product’s potential.
Even though you don’t have to use the app to use your Quell unit, we highly recommend it.
The app gives the user the ability to dial the unit’s intensity levels up and down and to track pain levels and sleep. You can review the details of your therapy and your sleep trends (if you wear it at night, of course!) in 1 to 90-day increments. It also creates a customized treatment program the first time the device is used.
The Quell app determines the optimal dosage for the user via their own super top-secret patented algorithm. Quell will automatically increase the intensity throughout therapy in order to overcome the normal nerve habituation that occurs
Yep it’s that smart.
Oh, and did I also mention it’s wireless? The whole unit is contained in a sturdy leg band. No more electrode wires handing out everywhere and big ol’ battery packs. You can even wear it out and about, allowing for some much-needed normalcy in your day to day activities
And, for our readers who like to see the evidence, here is some additional reading to learn more about Quell’s claims of success: The Science Behind Quell
Okay, so far, Quell sounds pretty great. But does it work outside of a research lab? Like in the real world, with real people, who are in real pain?
It appears it does.
Here are some positive comments about Quell:
“This is a well-made device. The strap is of excellent construction…”
“Wireless, easy to use, does not prohibit mobility and best of all it works on your entire body. Not just one localized area…”
“…people looking for relief beyond taking more and more pain medications.”
“…this is the future of pain relief…”
“The only over the counter product that has ever helped me any at all…”
“…treats multiple types of pain: nerve pain, muscle pain, arthritic pain…”
“…use an app feature to track progress. The app is one of the best features of this product.”
“I received a Quell for my birthday in July. I have degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis so there is rarely a part that does not hurt. The Quell, although I have not found it to remove all pain, does bring the level down so that I can enjoy an afternoon of shopping and lunching with my sisters which I could not have even considered doing before! It really helps with every day, around the house functioning and I would recommend that anyone with chronic pain give it a try. I’ve already given the information about the Quell to my Doctor to pass along to other patients.”
“Tens units can kind of be a pain to use due to the wires and multiple pads…not this..”
“When I’m topping out at an 8, it doesn’t provide total pain relief-but honestly, neither do narcotic pain killers. I am currently weaning off of daily narcotics and switching to PRN (as needed)…”
“Obtained relief to maintain daily necessities, shopping, etc., from leg nerve pain after three weeks of wearing!”
“…markedly decreased use of both oral pain medication and pain patches as a result.”
“I was very reluctant to order the quell. I’ve had several surgeries on my back and still had constant nerve pain. The quell has made a huge improvement in the quality of my life. Instead of reaching for a pill I turn up my quell. I’m sleeping better and moving more. My pain has dropped from an average of a steady 8 to a 3-4.”
“Ended a long time battle with nerve pain It is REALLY worth the try, if it does not work for you, you can return.”
“I’m maxed on Lyrica, multiple pain killers etc. No clear end in site until now. I purchased Quell and it took a little over a week to start working. I have been on it over a month and a half now. What a life saver!”
“I liked that I was able to try it for 2 months to see if it actually worked for me. So far so good…”
“…it has assisted in lowering the pain levels…well worth the money.”
“…wish I would have been informed about Quell years ago…”
“…able to reclaim their previous quality of life. Getting back to things they used to do before their chronic pain, whether it’s going to work, going to dinner with family/friends, gardening, exercise, playing with kids/grandkids, or just getting a good night’s rest…”
“…Quell helped me reduce the amount of medication I was taking…”
Now, not everyone thinks Quell is amazing. Some people had some very valid concerns. The most common complaints were:
“…some issues with it calibrating all by itself at times which results in an unbearable intensity…”
“…skin was getting very itchy and irritated.”
“I purchased the quell unit and have been using it every day for a week. So far my pain has NOT dissipated at all. No relief as of yet.”
“I’m not going to pay 5 times as much for electrodes that last a week, by day 5 or 6 the gel is coming off and I’m getting shocked too often…”
“…after less than a month my band became all stretched out…”
“…lack of a charging port opening on the leg band pouch…”
“I have to reattach my sport electrode several times a day. I developed some skin irritation at the electrode site on my left leg. Switching legs helps.”
“Sport version of the electrodes seem to hold up longer…”
So it sounds like the cost and quality of the electrodes is an issue for people using Quell. Needing to replace pads is also a problem with older TENS units, but Quell electrodes are more expensive. Hopefully, the manufacturer is listening to customers and makes some adjustments to address this.
In the meantime, what do you think about Quell? Is it something you want to try?
Let us know in the comments. And if you’ve used Quell for your IC pain, please, please, please share your story below!
**Disclaimer: NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. See more information here By reading this website, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. Do not take anything from any website, including this one, and try it without proper research and medical supervision.