Pain is a term that used by people to describe an unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Nowadays, there are a variety of approaches to pain management, including many pain relief gadgets and options that are marketed as safe for in-home use. As Harvard Health explains “there are devices claiming to interrupt pain signals to the brain with ‘bio-antennas’ embedded in skin patches; squeeze pain away with compression cuffs; or eliminate pain with ultrasound technology, electrical stimulation, heat, lasers, vibration, pressure, light, radiofrequency, infrared rays, or pulsed electromagnetic fields.” Even though many of these devices claim to be backed by clinical evidence and boast testimonials from professional experts, they still may be ineffective, as everyone is different with nuanced needs. Further, depending on one’s unique circumstances and pain severity, some of these seemingly credible gadgets may have dangerous outcomes.
Pain Relief Gadgets
While some pain relief gadget can be harmless, others could exacerbate one’s pain and/ or worsen the underlying condition causing pain. According to Dr. David Binder, a physiatrist and director of innovation at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, there are several low-tech, pain relief devices that are safe for in-home use, such as the following examples:
- A foam roller to stretch out muscles or tight bands of tissue
- Massagers such as massage cushions, vests, or handheld devices
- Heat or cold packs or skin patches
Experts warn against products that rely on advanced medical technologies in a home pain relief device, such as:
- Light therapy: this medical intervention is lacking in well-established evidence indicating its efficacy for the treatment of pain relief.
- Radiofrequency (RF): physicians may use the heat waves of RF in procedures to dull specific nerves in the spine, but it is typically not intended as an at-home treatment without proper supervision.
Associate clinical professor of neurology at Duke University, Dr. Timothy Collins, asserts that although “many of these devices may temporarily alleviate pain, those who experience chronic pain are – for a variety of reasons – especially susceptible to the placebo effect.” Additionally, certain pain relief gadgets may provide just enough relief that an individual does not feel the need to seek medical care, which can be harmful as it may delay an important diagnosis and necessary treatment.
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