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EDITIONS
Friday, 26 July, 2002, 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
DIY device to reduce pain
PainGone
PainGone is undergoing clinical trials
Dora Marshall was so crippled with arthritic pain in her arms and legs she would lie crying in bed at night unable to move.

Mrs Marshall, 97, from Bradford, has suffered from arthritis for more than 10 years.

She used to take pain killers daily to ease the pain, but last summer her pain killers seemed to lose their effect.

She said: "I was in agony. I could hardly move. It would take me hours to get in and out of bed the pain was so bad.

"When I did get into bed, I would just lie there awake unable to move or turnover on my side the arthritis was so painful.

"I love playing the piano, but last June my fingers were so crippled with arthritis I couldn't move them to play. I was devastated."

But when Mrs Marshall's doctor gave her a new hand-held device to try, called PainGone - the size and shape of a pen - her pain was relieved instantly.


The device has been very effective for some patients but hasn't worked for everyone

Scott Nicol
PainGone works by emitting controlled electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves which stimulate the body to produce feel-good hormones known as endorphins, suppressing the feeling of pain.

It uses a low 1 to 2 Hz frequency of electrical impulses which patients administer themselves by placing the device over the area where they are suffering the pain and pressing a button.

Doctors advise patients to administer 30 to 40 "jabs" every four to six hours.

Initial results from a study at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, on 50 patients with chronic pain in the lower back or major joints, showed that PainGone significantly reduced pain, increased mobility and cut the number painkillers patients needed to take.

Scott Nicol, clinical nurse specialist in chronic pain management at the Northern General Hospital, said: "The device has been very effective for some patients but hasn't worked for everyone.

"A few patients complained it hurt administering up to 40 shocks so they did fewer. But no patient pulled out of the study.

"We didn't encourage patients to stop taking their normal medication, the device was designed to give extra pain relief."


It's transformed my life. It has been wonderful and don't lie awake at night in pain

Dora Marshall

The device, manufactured by UK Care Products, costing 59.95. is designed to alleviate pain caused by a range of conditions including arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, osteoporosis, migraines, toothache, period pain, muscle aches and pains and pain caused by sports injuries.

Doctors say the pen has no harmful side effects and patients can adjust their dose depending on the severity of their pain, by repeating usage as often as they need to.

Mrs Marshall said: "It's transformed my life. It has been wonderful and don't lie awake at night in pain. I'm back playing the piano again so I'm ever so grateful. And now wherever I go I take PainGone with me."

Pain Gone is similar to the medical machine used in hospitals called Transcultaneous Nerve Stimulation (TNS).

This works by stimulating nerves with electrical impulse to block pain messages to the brain.

But PainGone is designed to be more practical. TNS machines normally transmit electrical impulses via pads and wires from a machine, but the wires need to be worn for an hour or more and many patients find the pads fall off while they move about.

PainGone involves no leads, cords or sticky pads, so it is easy to use and portable, and it is small and light enough to carry around in a pocket or handbag to give instant pain relief at any time.

Devastating impact

Dr Neal Edwards consultant in pain management at the Northern General Hospital, believes PainGone might be a significant treatment option for treating pain.

He said: "The gadget hasn't worked for all patients but it has helped some who have said that it allows them to do more, allows them to take less painkillers and has improved their quality of life.

"For those it does help it's a very useful tool as it isn't expensive and people can use it on their own home without needing to go to hospital."


One patient with rheumatoid arthritis in her hands found it too painful to use

Robina Lloyd
But Robina Lloyd from Arthritis Care urged caution.

She said: "We have reviewed PainGone which worked for some patients but not all.

"One patient with rheumatoid arthritis in her hands found it too painful to use but another patient with osteoarthritis said it helped ease her pain.

"The best thing for people to do is to try it before buying it to check whether it works for them. Also always check with your doctor before trying out any new device on your arthritis to make sure it won't harm you."

It is estimated that two million adults in the UK suffer from recurrent pain which devastates their lives, compromising their ability to move about freely, work, enjoy life and take part in physical activities.

Most sufferers rely on daily doses of painkillers to relieve their pain but used in high doses long term, they can have side effects.

PainGone is also being tested at St Margaret's Hospital in Dunfermline and the Royal Gwent Hospital in Wales.

See also:

17 Aug 01 | Wales
09 Nov 00 | Health
20 Nov 01 | Health
16 Sep 01 | Health
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