Every day we see people with back pain, joint pain, Spinal degeneration issues, and many other painful injuries. Some of the people we see, however, have purely neurologic issues. Some of the time, simple spinal manipulation (getting an adjustment) won’t help relieve the pain. In the cases of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Cancer pain, and even Shingles, a new kind of therapy is necessary. That therapy is Calmare Therapy. What is Calmare Therapy? How does one know if they need it?
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. 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.
Calmare Therapy is safe and effective at treating pain. There have been numerous articles published on Calmare Therapy including clinical practice summaries, prospective non-randomized clinical trials, and randomized controlled trials. There is substantial data that support the efficacy of Calmare in treating pain. It has received FDA clearance in the United States for use in patients experiencing pain. The machine stays on for 50 minutes once the desired intensity and delivery is achieved. Then after just one treatment patients report improvements in their symptoms. 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. At first, the initial benefit of getting therapy can be short-lived and only lasts from minutes to hours. But with repetitive days of treatment (usually 15 sessions over 3 weeks). The period of relief will increase and last a couple of days, often persisting for weeks to months. 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. Now that we know how it works, which cases do we prescribe Calmare therapy?
As stated earlier, Calmare therapy is generally used for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Cancer pain, and Shingles. The reason for this is the intense pain and tingling that needs to be stifled with the “no pain” signal from Calmare therapy. CRPS, Peripheral Neuropathy, and Shingles are actually very similar conditions in terms of symptoms. To illustrate this, here is the definition of CRPS according to mayoclinic.org: “Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) typically develops after an injury, a surgery, a stroke or a heart attack. The pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury”. Complex regional pain syndrome (C.R.P.S.) is a condition in which a person’s nervous system overreacts, sending extreme pain signals to areas of the body. People with C.R.P.S. experience intense pain in their limbs, hands and feet, as well as changes in skin color, temperature, and loss of movement. In most cases, the pain is constant. There are also two types of CRPS. Type 1 means that there is no related nerve damage, and was previously called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Type 2 means that there is direct nerve damage involved, and it was originally called causalgia. According to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association, up to 20% of those with partial paralysis develop C.R.P.S. as a complication. Also, 5% of patients with peripheral nerve injury end up with C.R.P.S. It’s important to point out that the cause isn’t clearly understood. Although scientists can’t explain the root cause of C.R.P.S., it is theorized that a neurochemical over-activation is triggered in the patient’s immune system causing small-fiber nerve inflammation and damage. In most cases, C.R.P.S. is a permanent condition. However, early detection and treatment with Calmare therapy can reduce the symptoms, slow down the process, and even cause symptoms to disappear completely. Calmare therapy is a very effective form of treatment for C.R.P.S. Here is a testimonial from one of our patients:
“I’ve had [complex regional pain syndrome] for about five and half years. I’ve tried everything from nerve blocks to spinal stimulators. Calmare helped with the burning and pain, calms everything down, and helps me feel like I can breathe again. I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated this machine—it’s been a lifesaver for me. I don’t take any more drugs, and I have a sense of freedom—I no longer feel constantly ‘drugged up’.”
Along with treating C.R.P.S., Neuropathy is another condition commonly treated in our office with Calmare therapy. Here is a description of Neuropathy by Dr. Wagner: “Neuropathy pain is an interesting description for many people I meet. Usually when someone comes in for treatment, I ask about their discomfort instead of “pain.” The reason being that many people I meet to perform Calmare therapy on, don’t usually have pain, they have other symptoms of discomfort, such as: burning, numbness and tingling, pins and needles, electric shocks, itching, vice-grip, ache, etc. Neuropathy pain typically will begin with a very slight tingling or numbness in the toes and then will progress to a stronger pins and needles or itching feeling. As the Neuropathy pain disease continues, symptoms become stronger and may be described as burning or electric shocks as the symptoms move up the legs, enveloping a larger portion of the body. True Neuropathy is a 24 hours per day problem that in severe cases, stops a person from being able to sleep for any length of time. I meet people all the time that will spend 8 or 10 hours a day in bed, but their total sleep time is less than 2 hours. Neuropathy pain is best described as chronic malfunction in the brain and nerve system. Therefore, the idea behind treating with Calmare therapy is to treat the brain, not the toes, feet, or legs.” People who suffer with neuropathy feel it 24/7. It affects their ability to enjoy life and do simple things, such as walk barefoot through the grass, play golf, or sit and have a conversation without the pain taking all their attention. This kind of pain drives people who suffer with neuropathy to search for answers, but when they speak to their doctor usually the only answer they find is to take drugs that have serious side effects, cause memory loss, and make them feel like they’re in a fog. The nerve pain felt is due to a malfunction in the normal neural signature. Many people are told that their nerves are dying, yet tests show that everything is normal and the pain can’t be explained.
Causes of neuropathy pain are most commonly: idiopathic (meaning nobody knows the cause), trauma, or diabetes. When asked how neuropathy gets diagnosed, Dr. Wagner said:
“That’s such a great question because there are so many misconceptions out there about neuropathy or nerve pain. It’s really funny, I’ll get people that come into my office and they’ll say, oh, it’s just a pinched nerve, and they’ll point to something and all of this nerve is pinched […] but the funny thing is pinch nerves aren’t just a sharp pain in one little location. A true pinch nerve is radiating pain all the way down the extremity or down the leg, something like this. Neuropathy is completely different than that, history is the key and the main reason is neuropathy can’t be measured. So there is no definitive test for neuropathy, in fact, it’s very frustrating for patients because there is not a doctor in the world that truly understands neuropathy. So, what we do is we do a bunch of different kinds of tests, nerve conduction, velocity tests, and other nerve measuring tests. And those come back negative but here’s what a Dr. may say to a patient. Well, we ran all these tests and it shows that you have neuropathy.
Well, what he’s really saying that the patient doesn’t understand is that we’ve run all these tests. They show nothing, I believe you that you’re hurt, so therefore you have neuropathy. So this isn’t something that’s measured, but it’s more about the history. Most people, they’ll start feeling a little numbness or tingling in their toes and maybe they stomp their feet a little bit and it feels better and goes away. Well then as the days go on, it kind of grows. It’s into their toes and into their forefeet and over time they can’t stomp it away. It becomes 24/7 and it’s just the slow onset. And they keep going from doctor to doctor, to doctor saying, what is this? And, can’t you tell me what’s wrong or why this started so I can fix it.”
As stated earlier, Calmare therapy is a process of placing electrodes on the body in a manner that will ‘cancel’ the person’s pain. When the pain is canceled during treatment, this gives the brain the ability to rewrite the neurosignature and change the brain and nerve system to remember messages of “no pain” instead of pain. Over successive treatments, the Neuropathy Pain or other symptoms are reduced visit by visit until maximum relief is achieved. We are 90% effective in seeing significant reduction in symptoms here at Dixie Chiropractic! Here is another testimonial from one of our patients:
“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!”
The Calmare device has been used to successfully treat over 4,000 patients worldwide (a statistic from 2018), where it has been shown to be effective in treating neuropathic and oncologic pain. When asked what conditions Calmare can help, Dr. Wagner said: “All classes of neuropathy and we can talk more and more about that, but neuropathy has many different classifications or types I should say ideologies. Cancer pain, so not only cancer pain, but chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy.” Although it won’t cure Cancer, Calmare can help with Cancer pain!
Medication therapy such as NSAIDs, opioids, antidepressants, and anticonvulsant drugs as well as nerve blocks and patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) are provided as treatment for cancer pain. But despite the availability of chronic cancer pain treatments, studies show the difficulty to control the pain remains. In a study of 5,084 cancer patients, 56% had cancer pain of a moderate or worse degree, and only 41% of the patients were using appropriate medication. In addition, reports show that 40-70% of patients with cancer pain are receiving inappropriate pain treatment. Cancer patients deal with a lot! The psychological impact of the disease is tremendous, the treatments are horrendous, and intractable pain is often a side effect of the therapy, if not the disease itself. In fact, more than 80% of cancer patients experience cancer pain. To control the pain, a variety of methods have been used, including medications and nerve blocks. In some patients, however, it is impossible to perform nerve blocks due to metastasis, and in other patients, opioid dose escalation is impossible due to opioid side effects. Needless to say, cancer pain management is difficult. Dr. Wagner also said on the subject of Calmare used for cancer pain management: “The effect of Calmare therapy appears within 10 seconds of beginning treatment, and alleviation of pain is maintained continuously for several days or even several months after completion. The mechanism signifies that remodulation occurs in the periphery and central nervous system, which become the main target for treating neuropathic pain. The patient feels the effects through the entire dermatome, not just the area where the electrodes were attached. It is evident that the “no-pain” message is conveyed through the dermatome to the brain through cutaneous nerves. Calmare Therapy is safe and non-invasive and has no significant side effects. If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer or post-cancer pain, Calmare Pain Therapy treatments may be your pathway to a joy-full, pain-free life.“
As stated earlier, Calmare has also been incredibly successful with treating Shingles patients. If you don’t know, Shingles can be one of the most painful and excruciating ailments. Again, according to mayoclinic.org, “Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Shingles can occur anywhere on your body. It typically looks like a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the left side or the right side of your torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles. Shingles isn’t life-threatening. But it can be very painful. Vaccines can help lower the risk of shingles. Early treatment may shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia. This is a painful condition that causes shingles pain for a long time after your blisters have cleared.” Even after being “healed”, the pain will persist. This is where the importance of Calmare therapy steps in.
Dr. Wagner says: “So post shingles pain is another one of those that I would call a nearslam dunk, we’re like 99%, and it’s amazing. So show post shingles pain is people that get adult chicken pox which is shingles. And many times that scarring or that damage it’s done to the nerves, usually it can happen anywhere. I’ve seen it on heads […] The pain is still there. So yeah, there’s a myriad of conditions that this can help, and as I say, we’ve mentioned several of them will continue to clarify but like in the case of cancer, I just wanted to clarify, we don’t fix cancer. What we do is we can help with the pain that’s caused by cancer.”
We also have a testimonial from one of our patients on how Calmare helped her Shingles pain: “Another one is Misty. So she’s a 52-year-old female, this was post shingles pain. So she had a case of shingles. Her pain was wrapping around her torso, upper abdomen, and rib area. Unrelenting pain, this had been going on for a couple of years. She came in and in less than three weeks, we had her shingles pain completely gone. That was an amazing one too.”
Testimonials, patient reports, and the relief that our patients feel all testify that the Calmare therapy is effective at treating CRPS, Neuropathy, Cancer pain, Shingles pain, and more. Every single day we treat and help more and more people. On top of these conditions, here are some more that we treat regularly at Dixie Chiropractic using the Calmare machine:
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)
- Sciatic and Lumbar Pain
- Phantom Limb Syndrome
- Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)
- Post-surgical Neuropathic Pain
- Low Back Pain (LBP)
- Back & Neck pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Pudendal (Gynecologic) Pain
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RDS)
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these conditions, or something similar, feel free to call our office at 435-673-1443! We want to get you on the road to a pain free life as soon as possible.