By Donna Gregory Burch
Since my fibromyalgia diagnosis, I’ve tried so many drugs, supplements and other products in an attempt to find something to dull the pain. I’ve found a few things that help, but the effects are usually minimal. Even opioids haven’t worked for me, although I admit my experience with them has been limited.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to try out the Quell wearable pain relief device. You may have seen the commercials for Quell on TV or had an ad show up in your Facebook feed. Quell is a small, rectangular device that’s worn an inch or two below the knee. It simulates a cluster of sensory nerve fibers in that area and triggers the body’s natural pain blockers. Unlike TENS units, I do not have to apply the device to the area of the body where I’m feeling pain.
Quell is used for the relief of nerve, arthritic/joint, leg/foot, lower back and widespread pain. In a recent clinical study, which included fibromyalgia patients, 81 percent reported an improvement in chronic pain and 67 percent were able to reduce their medications.
I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on doctors and products that don’t really work, so I was skeptical of Quell’s claims. How in the heck was a black box strapped on my leg going to do anything for pain? Well, I’ve been using my Quell device since April, and it is now my No. 1, go-to tool for pain relief. I love it so much that I talk it up to anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia pain, and I wanted to share it with my readers here at National Pain Report, too!
I apologize ahead of time if this article sounds like an advertisement for Quell. I swear I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just happen to love this device so much that I want to share my experience in hopes that others might find relief as well.
One of the things that’s impressed me the most about Quell is how fast it works. Unlike pharmaceuticals and supplements, Quell doesn’t have to build up in the body. The first time I used it, I felt less pain within a couple of hours. Now that I use it regularly, it gives relief within a few minutes.
Quell is not a miracle device. It doesn’t kill my pain entirely, but it does reduce my pain levels, so I’m better able to function. My day-to-day pain level (using this scale) generally hovers between 3-6. With Quell, I have more days in the 2-4 range. I’ll take that improvement any day!
One of my favorite times to use my Quell is while grocery shopping and running errands. I dread doing these tasks because they increase my pain and fatigue. I typically collapse on the sofa after I get home from buying groceries, but now that I wear my Quell, I’m usually able to stay out longer, and I’m not as exhausted or in as much pain when the shopping trip is over. The Quell extends my functionality by an extra hour or two. Even my husband has noticed my endurance is getting better.
I tend to take a more natural approach to treatment, so I like that Quell is 100 percent drug free. There are no side effects.
Another nice feature of Quell is that it can be worn while sleeping. I frequently use it at night when I wake up in pain and can’t get back to sleep. It cuts the pain enough for me to fall asleep.
Of course, like every other fibromyalgia treatment, it’s not perfect. Nothing is! My pain level increases dramatically when it rains or storms. Quell has no effect on my weather-related pain. I can’t seem to find anything to help with that.
When the Quell is giving a treatment, it causes a mild vibration against the skin. Occasionally, this vibration becomes too intense, and it feels like it’s stinging my leg. There’s a button on the device that I push to lessen the sensation.
And of course, the biggest downside is probably the cost. At $249, the Quell device is an investment, and it’s not covered by health insurance. Fortunately, NeuroMetrix, Quell’s maker, offers a 60-day return policy. That makes it easier to stomach the expense. If it doesn’t work, it’s returnable.
There are ongoing costs associated with Quell. The sticky electrodes that help hold the device on the skin have to be replaced. With everyday use, it costs around $30 a month for replacement electrodes.
Over the past few months, the band on my Quell has become stretched due to normal wear and tear. I’ll need to replace my band a couple of times a year at a cost of around $25 each time.
Still, the costs are worth the freedom Quell gives me. If my Quell dies tomorrow, I will have another one ordered by the end of the day. It’s that good!
And that’s why I want to tell everyone in the fibromyalgia community about it. We all know there are no magical cures for fibro, but this little device is the best thing I’ve found so far for managing the pain of fibromyalgia.
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.