Scrambler Therapy − A New Way to Treat Chronic Pain Without Drugs or Invasive Devices

Scrambler Therapy − A New Way to Treat Chronic Pain Without Drugs or Invasive Devices

Dr. Michael J. Cooney

Dr. Michael J. Cooney

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Yet, we don’t know how to help people get rid of it, in most cases. It affects 100 million adult Americans, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sometimes medication, therapies and devices just don’t work for many patients living with chronic pain, defined as lasting more than three to six months. In addition, side effects from prescribed opioids can become debilitating, less effective over time, or cost prohibitive.

Despite the alarming prevalence of chronic pain, many people, including healthcare providers, are unaware of the success of a growing number of non-narcotic treatments, supported by considerable research.

It is possible to lessen, and even eliminate pain, without the use of medication.

As a chiropractor who specializes in treating various pain conditions as a result of injury or disease, my biggest frustration is when our tried-and-true treatments do not result in a successful outcome.

Often these patients are forced to seek out more invasive procedures − such as surgically implanted spinal cord stimulators (SCS) or powerful narcotics such as Ketamine − where success has been uneven but the side effects are significant.

What happens to these patients for whom traditional treatments and medications simply don’t work?

Drug-free treatment for neuropathy

To help my own patients, I introduced FDA-cleared Calmare Pain Therapy Treatment (scrambler therapy), a U.S. FDA 510(k)-cleared and European CE mark-certified, non-invasive pain therapy device. This free-standing device is painless for the patient, has no side effects and requires no medication.

The device was developed by Professor Giuseppe Marineo, a researcher and bioengineer and the founder and manager of Delta Research & Development, affiliated with Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy.

Scrambler therapy has a talk with the brain

The brain’s reaction to chronic pain can be compared to learning to play the piano or memorizing a poem − the more the body “practices” processing pain, the stronger the connections between pain nerves and the brain become.

When someone is injured, the brain sets up a process to heal the injury. For example, cells carry away dead tissue or it increases blood flow to the area. Eventually, the brain realizes the injury has healed and it cuts off the pain message.

But for some, the brain never sends that pivotal message saying “there’s no more injury here so you can stop the pain signal.”

That’s where the scrambler device comes in. Using several small electrodes (think EKG) carefully placed in the region of the injury, the technology sends a mild “no pain” message to the brain through the electrodes. Essentially, the scrambler machine “overrides” the brain’s confused message and corrects it to the ‘no pain here” message.

This process is repeated during 10 daily treatments which last from 30 to 60 minutes. In the majority of cases, by the end of the cycle, there is no more pain signal emanating from the brain. In many cases, pain is lessened for the patient as soon as the first treatment.

What kinds of neuropathic conditions can it help?

We introduced this technology to treat our local treatment-resistant patients here in New Jersey. But to our surprise, patients from as far away as Australia and South Africa have traveled to our clinic for treatment.

I have treated hundreds of patients battling complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a progressive condition characterized by severe pain, inflammation and changes in the skin. Patients commonly describe the pain as a burning sensation, which affects one of the arms, legs, hands or feet. We have seen outstanding outcomes helping more than 85 percent of patients lessen or eliminate pain and physical symptoms.

Scrambler therapy has also been shown to offer successful outcomes for these conditions resulting in chronic pain:

Is the device safe and supported by clinical trials?

Scrambler therapy has proven effective in clinical trials and patient outcomes. Teaching hospitals, including the Massey Cancer Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have performed trials and reported significant reductions in pain associated with cancer treatment and other chronic pain conditions. The Mayo Clinic has been engaged in several clinical trials for the past three years.

The importance of discovering alternative treatments for neuropathy

The majority of patients we treat with scrambler therapy arrive at our clinic frustrated and exhausted by the endless search for pain relief. Often, in desperation, they resort to surgery, experimental procedures outside the U.S. or powerful pain medications which leave them mentally and physically diminished by side effects.

I encourage people with treatment-resistant neuropathy and their families to consider less invasive alternative solutions to combat the effects of chronic pain. Surprisingly, the cost can be comparable to prescription medications and in-patient co-pays, in many cases. And the outcome can be life-changing.

Regardless of the pain therapy you choose, keep in mind there are treatments that do not involve narcotics, surgery or invasive procedures which can result in more pain and discomfort. Keep looking, talk to doctors, follow and keep up on the new research. There may very well be a solution out there to minimize your pain. But, often, it’s up to you to discover it.

Dr. Michael J. Cooney has been a doctor of chiropractic for more than 30 years at Rutherford Allied Medical Group and Calmare Therapy NJ located in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he is one of 10 certified providers of Calmare Pain Therapy Treatment in the United States.

 

Authored by: Dr. Michael Cooney

There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Emma Clotworthy at 1:15 am

    Help
    I am a mother of an 11 year girl with Chronic pain, having extreme trouble in finding how we can get treatment to her as we live in New Zealand. Am willing to travel but want to know where is the closest country

  2. Sam at 11:53 pm

    I am a sufferer of Glossadynia/Burning Mouth Syndrome (tounge pain) and occasionally tingly teeth and numb gums. Health professionals have diagnosed this as a Psycho-Neuropathic Pain. I would like to know if this Calmare/Scrambler Therapy would assist in healing my tounge pain? Are there Calmare/Scrambler therapies outside of the United States or United Kingdom?

  3. Dr. Michael Cooney at 8:06 am

    Hi Janet,

    Thank you for reading my article. I’ve outlined the difference below:

    Tens Machine:

    This is a low volt current which is general used to treat muscle and joint problems. The pads are placed on the area of pain. Depending on the desired result you can alter the current. You may want to break a muscle spasm, exercise the tissue, break up an adhesion or move fluid through the area. In all of these, you are generally treating an acute condition. No matter the desired result the tens utilizes one current. It is also (usually) self-administered.

    Scrambler Therapy:

    With Calmare, we utilize 16 different algorithms {currents} . The treatment is performed above and below the pain. We are sending ‘no pain’ signals through the pain area in an effort to reboot the pain center of the brain.

    During a treatment, the sequence of the messaging is constantly changing. This does not allow the pain center to accommodate to the treatment. In our clinic, the leads are all placed and monitored by me personally. I have treated well over 1,000 patients and have advanced expertise in determining the optimal placement of these leads, which is key to the overall success of the therapy.

    I hope this has helped you!

    With kind regards,
    Dr. Cooney

  4. Dr. Michael Cooney at 10:41 am

    Responses from Dr. Cooney to Misti and Howard

    Misti: The treatment is offered now by select doctors across the U.S. and in several parts of the world. I encourage you to work with a Certified provider who has treated many patients with positive and measurable outcomes.

    Howard: We have treated several patients from the UK here in New Jersey, USA It is my understand there is a provider in Ireland. You can check with Competitive Technologies located in Connecticut, USA for an international contact to learn more.

  5. Dr. Michael Cooney at 10:37 am

    Response from Dr. Michael Cooney:

    Dear Mr./Ms. Klomp,

    Thank you for reading my article. While I was disappointed with your comments, I hope you don’t mind if I respond, please:

    @CalmareNJ Success rate #CalmareTherapy (#Scrambler) disappointingly low (38.1%)
    http://www.une.edu/sites/default/files/2014%20scrambler%20muticenter.pdf … …

    Thank you for posting this study, I had not seen it. My feedback to this study, based upon treating hundreds of patients using Calmare Therapy since 2011, is below:

    1- Study did not follow the protocol. Treatment is 10 days, Monday to Friday for two weeks. With some of these patients they performed only 3 treatments.

    2- Anticonvulsants and antidepressants are contraindicated for this therapy. They treated patients while on them, inexplicably.

    3-When they isolated out the neuropathic pain patients, their success rate went to almost 51%, even with the above treatment approach errors. In addition, these are the target patient population–the scrambler therapy MC-5A device is not intended to treat neuritis. Proper vetting of the patient trial population is paramount in determining accurate response to treatment.

    4- The results were very different in each trial location. The study does cite, thankfully, that this is likely do to “provider competence.”

    5- Given all the above, it is interesting to note that if a drug was presented to the FDA with just a 50% efficacy–without side effects and being non invasive–it would fly through approval.

    6- Other higher quality studies have been performed at respected research hospitals which are following protocol and properly vetting patients and achieving much better outcomes than reported here. (I’m disappointed these reports were not available to you).

    M. Cooney: Scrambler therapy is a “provider dependent” treatment. Doc must have expert lead placement education.

    Correct. As with any treatment where you are reliant on the provider, if they don’t have the expertise to treat the patient’s specific condition (CRPS, CIPN, PHN, Diabetic neuropathy, post-op pain) or have detailed anatomical expertise, the treatment can be far less effective. Potential Calmare patients should ensure their provider has treated many patients with their specific condition and achieved positive outcomes more often than not.

    FK: @CalmareNJ Every therapy is provider and expert dependent. Do you provide peer reviewed results?

    Certainly. Many of us, individual doctors, hospitals and research centers, are in the process of generating measurable patient studies. This is not a quick process, to be sure. But several studies have already been completed and reported. Several are posted on our website. Right now, we share our willing patients’ stories on our website, when the patient wishes to share their positive experience. Not every case is a success, as with all pain management efforts.

    M. Cooney: Now there are few certified providers.We hope studies will lead to further peer review and standards being set.

    Agreed!

  6. Dr. Michael Cooney at 10:17 am

    As the author of this article, I’d like to respond to a few comments above if I may:

    Lilla: I’m happy to report, due to patient’s battling, we’re seeing more medical insurance companies reimburse its customers. You can find out specifics on our website. In terms of the treatments being expensive, some of our patients have said 10 Calmare treatments were comparable to their monthly prescription drug fees, which didn’t help offset pain. I also have issue with your statement about poor patient outcomes, which I’ll outline below. Wishing you a low pain day. Dr. Cooney

  7. Lilla Cabot at 8:06 am

    Not covered by insurance. Not guaranteed. Very expensive. Review of various pain forums suggests little success overall.

  8. f.klomp at 11:22 pm

    FK: @CalmareNJ Success rate #CalmareTherapy (#Scrambler) disappointingly low (38.1%)
    http://www.une.edu/sites/default/files/2014%20scrambler%20muticenter.pdf … …

    M. Cooney: @Sabotjes Disappointing. Scrambler therapy is a “provider dependent” treatment. Doc must have expert lead placement education.

    FK: @CalmareNJ Every therapy is provider and expert dependent. Do you provide peer reviewed results?

    M. Cooney: @Sabotjes Now there are few certified providers.We hope studies will lead to further peer review and standards being set.

  9. misti at 12:56 pm

    i would be willing to try this !! does it work ? how long do we have to wait

  10. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 11:45 am

    Any remedy that is safe, can not do harm, that can help restore someone back to normal (curative), that is non-toxic, that includes no chemicals, opiates, no surgery, holistic and sustainable = SUCCESSFUL!!!! This is natural healing at its best.

    Nature heals all wounds and may need a little help from us. How can we help nature?

    I know from experiences from treating thousands of various chronic pain problems that the provider should compensate for the uniqueness of each case with individual customization and personalization. In my opinion, this a is golden opportunity and is mandatory. The logic is simple;

    Structural pain is solid and easily removed.

    NON-structural pain is invisible pain that can not be removed like a tumor. This non-structural pain is deeply embedded within the flesh- subcutaneous, fat, muscle, fascia, tendons, ligaments, vessels, lymphatics and nerve tissues.

    These pain problems respond best to a recipe with a full complement of ingredients. This is my favorite list taken from the historical archives dating back 5000 years. All these option fill in the gaps and will assist in the natural healing of the flesh. 1) You must engage in a self care program; wellness, supplements esp magnesium, sleep, yoga, range of motion exercises, traction, inversion, diet, stress management. 2) Outside the skin; manual labor into muscles and connective tissues stimulation. ie Scrambler Therapy, E-stim, Massage, spinal adjustments, formal traction, formalized range of motion exercises and active tissue release.

    If you know me, I’m stuck on needling.

  11. Janet Komanchuk at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for your interesting article, Dr. Cooney. Can you tell me how this treatments differs from a TENS machine and other such treatments?