I get a lot of questions about a treatment we do in the clinic called Calmare Therapy, so I thought I would address some of the common questions in this post:

What is Calmare?

Calmare Therapy is a pain management approach that uses a machine to rewrite the neural signature of pain messages going to the brain. The pain signal is replaced with a message of “no pain” that is processed by the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals.

How does it work?

Electrodes are placed on the skin’s surface at the location of pain, and through a process called “plasticity” is able to retrain the brain so that it no longer associates pain with the area treated. The electric signals travel through the skin, into the nerves, up to the brain which then perceives
these messages as “normal” thus overriding the previous “pain” signals.

What does it feel like?

When the Calmare machine is turned on, patients report a “buzzing” sensation at the location of the electrodes, at the source of pain. As the intensity is increased, patients report that the buzzing sensation replaces the pain sensation.

How is Calmare different than a TENS unit?

A TENS unit is thought to work through the gateway theory of pain relief, meaning the signal temporarily interrupts the pain message, whereas Calmare Therapy rewrites the signal that is going to the brain, sending a “no pain” message. In short, where TENS temporarily blocks the transmission of pain signals, Calmare retrains the brains to perceive the signal as “normal” for prolonged pain relief.

Is it safe?

Calmare Therapy is safe and effective at treating pain and has received FDA clearance in the United States for use in patients experiencing pain.

What kind of pain can be treated with Calmare?

Calmare has been effective in treating many painful conditions and diagnoses such as cancer, post-chemo pain, diabetes, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, back and neck pain, failed back surgery syndrome, phantom limb pain, pudendal nerve pain, and many other chronic pain

How long does a treatment take?

The machine stays on for about 50 minutes, once the desired intensity and delivery is achieved. We have found this amount of time to be most effective in relieving pain.

How long does the pain relief last?

After one treatment, the benefit is often short-lived, lasting from minutes to hours. With repetitive days of treatment (usually 15 sessions over 3 weeks), the period of relief increases to last a couple of days, and often persisting for weeks to months.

Is there data supporting Calmare Treatments?

There have been numerous articles published on Calmare Therapy including clinical practice summeries, prospective non-randomized clinics trials, and randomized controlled trials. There is substantial data that support the efficacy of Calmare in treating pain.

What is the cost?

There are some insurance companies that cover the therapy, since it is a lot cheaper than alternative therapies. The cost can run anywhere between $160 and $300 per session. This is less expensive than many chronic pain procedures.

Are there any negative side effects from Calmare?

There have not been many documented side effects with this therapy. Sometimes people report the buzzing sensation to be uncomfortable, but if pain happens during the procedure the signal intensity is scaled back to a level of comfort. Sometimes the skin becomes slightly irritated where the electrodes were placed. Overall, reports in the literature have been largely free of any side effects at all.

Are there any contraindications to Calmare Therapy?

Electrodes should not placed within the electrical proximity of pacemakers, defibrillators, or other electrical implants.

What do your patients have to say about Calmare?

“I’ve had neuropathy for over 20 years with pain coursing through my entire body. It began as what I thought (and my doctors thought) was flu, but as I worsened, it was realized that I had neuropathy and I began taking Gabapentin. Up until last month, I had been taking 2700 mg per day! I weaned myself off of 900 mg on my own, but was so glad to hear about the Calmare therapy. I just completed my 9th treatment and am completely pain free today! First time in 20 years that I awoke with no pain!”   

D. Lake