Join Date: Apr 2013
Calmare was great for us, and it is not a TENS device
I am a Science Teacher, and got involved in researching options when I heard that my niece was going through this awful pain and was on track to get a spinal cord stimulator (!). Since I am very good at researching, I dove in for a few months and started looking for alternatives. Read about ketamin (looked risky), different kinds of drugs (side effects, and don't address the underlying issue), saw the long term studies on spinal cord stims (the only randomized, controlled study was not so good long term, and it has definite risks for the surgery to introduce new pain sites), and a few others. I saw someone mention Calmare/scrambler a few times and decided to look into it.
Personally, I like going to the controlled, scientific studies that are published in recognized pain journals, especially the Randomized Controlled Tests (RCT's) that are the gold standard for research. The ones I found for Calmare have excellent results, and a large scale one is due out soon. Also, I would guess that you can contact any of the military hospitals that are using the device for verification. I believe that they mostly use it for phantom limb pain, but many places working with PLP use the same therapies for CRPS, as there are many similarities in the brain. I also saw that Mayo clinic and U of Wisconsin Cancer center is using and doing studies with Calmare as well, and having very good results.
I found a radio talk show program "Aches and Gains", by Johns Hopkins Pain Specialist Paul J. Christo, discussing it (February 16, 2013), and saw several youtube videos with patients who it had been successful for. I started researching the various practitioners to see who had been having a lot of experience with CRPS, and choose Dr. Cooney. I'm sure that others would also be good, but he was the one I found the most CRPS info for (and he turned out to be wonderful to work with). Anyway, after all of that, I passed on the info to my sister and they decided to go for it.
As for the TENS being the same/similar, that is not the case. The big differences are in the amount of current being used, and the types of neurons being used to transmit the signal. Calmare just received a patent approval, which required that it was different than a TENS unit, and worked in a different way. I just googled it (patent no. 8,380,317) and it said that it sends the "no pain" signal on the surface C fiber nerve receptors instead of interrupting pain signals through the A-beta fibers like the TENS does. (sorry, the biology teacher coming out....)
The gist is that TENS intercepts the pain signal, but I believe that when you are not using it, the pain returns (but I don't have experience with it personally). However, the Calmare signal is providing "no pain" data to the brain using the pathway from the original injury. My hypothesis (this is from other research that I've done) is that this gives the brain a chance to realize that there is no tissue damage going on, and therefore doesn't need to assign pain to it. This then gives the brain a chance to reset/relearn the normal no pain state. This can also be done in another excellent, but longer duration, therapy called Graded Motor Imagery. (I think that will need a different post...)
As for your comment that no pain is a result of no signal, you are incorrect. As an illustration, I have no pain right now in my leg, but I can feel the pressure of various things on it, and the temperature, etc. Basically, we have 3 main sensory neurons that can (but don't have to) transmit info which may be felt as pain : pressure, temperature and chemical. The info that they send to the brain allows it to INTERPRET the signals as pain or not. Look it up in Wikipedia, under nociceptors, it also talks about the faster A fibers and slower C fibers. Lorimer Moseley has done some great work on nociceptors and pain. He has a hilarious TED talk on the subject, which is totally worth looking up!
Anyway, the bottom line is that it brought my niece's level 8 pain (with meds) down to a 0, and now she can walk normally. Her foot has some muscle and tendon aches because they are being used again, but this is also improving with use. Again, I recommend that people with crps/rsd look into this and decide for themselves.
Last edited by Chemar; 04-20-2013 at 10:20 AM.
Reason: quoted post was removed