Sound familiar? Ketamine comas, nerve blocks, Tramadol, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, Morphine; surgery, injections; spinal cord stimulator (SCS); tens unit, topical creams, physical therapy; inpatient pain clinics…
By Dr. Michael Cooney, Clinical Director, Calmare Therapy NJ USA
These are just a few of the pain management efforts many people battling CRPS undergo in search of relief.
The primary reason I introduced Calmare Therapy in 2011 was to help my own patients with medication and treatment-resistant neuropathy.
To my surprise, within a few months, CRPS warriors began contacting me asking if Calmare could lessen chronic pain levels and reduce physical symptoms — allodynia, open lesions, temperature sensitivity, neurological issues, mobility restriction and others.
I had to be honest–I had never treated a patient with CRPS. However, since the therapy was non-invasive, approved by the FDA in the US, and had no side effects, I suggested we cautiously try a few abbreviated treatments and gauge the outcome.
Early patient outcomes were remarkably successful in pain reduction.
We began sharing stories on our virtually unknown website.
Within a year, people in the CRPS community from South African to Australia to South America began hearing about scrambler therapy and its uncanny ability to help many—but not all—sufferers.
Our friends at Burning Nights CRPS have generously published our content over the years; we thought it might be helpful to share a 2019 updated Q&A:
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 Calmare scrambler therapy technology comes in.
Using small electrodes (think EKG), the technology sends a mild “no pain” message to the brain through the electrodes.
Essentially, the scrambler machine overrides the brain’s confused pain message and corrects it to a ‘no pain here” message.
None of the above. It is 100% non-invasive.
Via small electrodes, a ‘no-pain’ message is transmitted directly to the nerve for a period of 30 – 45 minutes, on average.
During the treatment process, the patient’s pain steadily decreases to allow the patient to participate in normal daily activities and resume a better quality of life.
In some cases, pain relief is reported in one to three treatments, but each patient’s case is unique and some patients experience relief after 5-7 treatments.
There is no pain during the therapy and there are no side effects.
The number of scrambler therapy providers has expanded to several more countries, including Australia, Ireland and India and additional sites in the US. The device was designed in Italy.
A word of caution–readers seeking this therapy should carefully screen their potential provider.
Calmare is a ‘provider-dependent’ therapy; therefore, the patient is fully reliant upon the expertise of the provider to optimally use the device to provide optimal and sustained pain relief.
The treatment provider should be ‘Calmare Certified’ and have successfully treated many people with CRPS
To my knowledge, I am one of the first Calmare providers to treat CRPS sufferers. I have shared my findings and outcomes with pain management research hospitals and found them to be receptive to the consistent outcomes we have achieved.
It is up to them at this juncture to decide if they will engage in their own studies specific to CRPS.
There have been several positive clinical trials performed at several high profile research facilities here in the United States.
As best as we can, we update these studies on our Clinical Trials web page, so people with specific neuropathic pain conditions can use them as a reference.
If the clinical trial providers place the leads in the optimal positions on each trial participant’s body, in accordance with their original injury site, the results should be irrefutable.
I recently discovered an informative Grand Rounds review (by doctors for doctors) about scrambler therapy, “Calmare Therapy – An Innovative Pain Treatment: What Is It?” presented by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, a partnership between Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.
In addition, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is also now offering Calmare Therapy to help patients debilitated from chemotherapy treatment and cancer pain.
It depends on the patient and a few key factors:
Some patients need to come for booster treatments periodically, a few more often, and some never need to return for additional therapy.
Patients typically undergo daily 35-minute treatment sessions for 10 consecutive days, Monday – Friday), although some need a few more (particularly if they have been suffering for several years) or fewer, should the condition be more recently diagnosed.
There are typically no side effects and in most cases, pain relief is substantial or even eliminated. Subsequent booster treatments may be needed down the line (typically 1 to 3 treatments) should the pain condition return. I recently blogged about what happens during each scrambler therapy treatment here.
In my practice, I’ve seen highly successful outcomes in people with CRPS Type 1 and Type 2.
In regard to comparing the MC-5A scrambler machine to a tens unit, the two devices have marked differences:
In our New Jersey, USA clinic, we have seen a consistent success rate
(meaning CRPS pain relief has been significantly reduced or eliminated)
in 70–75% of the cases we have treated since 2011.
Finally, I’d like to state that scrambler therapy is not a “miracle cure.”
Calmare does not lessen pain for every patient.
This happens for reasons we don’t always understand, but anyone considering this therapy with any provider should be fully aware of this consideration, as with all medical treatments.
The good news–Generally, about 80 to 85% of CRPS patients who go on to achieve significant CRPS pain relief report reduced pain levels as soon as the first or second treatment.
Introducing Calmare Therapy to our practice has been one of the most personally and professionally satisfying efforts I’ve had the privilege to be part of in my 40-year career.
Burning Nights readers are welcome to contact us by phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or requests to consult with me directly about their cases.
Dr. Michael Cooney is one of eight Certified providers of Calmare scrambler therapy in the U.S. He specializes in treating patients battling chronic nerve pain as a result of CRPS, fibromyalgia, diabetes, shingles (PHN), post-surgical pain and pain after chemotherapy (CIPN).