I recently noticed an article in the Telegraph titled: ‘‘Hurting all the time is not an option’: The alternative paths to ease chronic pain’.
The article discussed the very compelling personal story of Julie Derbyshire, a woman from Staffordshire who couldn’t even peel vegetables, walk her dog or hold a phone due to her intense chronic pain. Hearing about the everyday struggles of those suffering from chronic pain only makes me more determined to push forward in my efforts to relieve their plight.
The article goes on to talk about how chronic pain patients such as Julie are often stuck in the “cycle of painkillers and physiotherapy”, quoting a consultant health psychologist as saying they are pushed into increasingly strong painkillers as part of a “reliance on medication” that is “ineffective for people with persistent or chronic pain”.
In an attempt to break this cycle, many patients are now using a variety of alternative drug-free treatment options for chronic pain, including cold showers, acupuncture, exercise, meditation and nutritional supplements. These alternative treatment options could well have benefits for some chronic pain patient, though so far, success rates have been mixed. Fundamentally, none of these treatments strike at the root of pain – signals within the nervous system itself.
Currently, the pain relief drug procaine, which is often prescribed for chronic pain, works by blocking the chemical processes involved in sending signals from the sensory neurones to the brain. To truly move away from using drug-based therapy, we must find a way to replicate the way this works without using the drugs themselves. None of the existing natural treatment options do so, and this is a big reason why NICE has not recommended use of them prior to using painkillers – they simply do not present a comprehensive alternative to drugs.
Thankfully, there is a technology out there that can do exactly that. By adding two high-frequency signals together and passing them into the body through a single electrode, a BioWave device can block the pain signals travelling from the sensory neurones to the brain without using any drugs. This technology has already been employed to great success in the United States, having been widely embraced by NFL teams.
Given this ongoing desire among so many chronic pain patients to break away from their reliance on painkiller drugs, I am confident that greater adoption of BioWave devices in the UK would be welcomed by the vast majority of chronic pain patients. Ultimately, successfully tackling chronic pain means giving patients a range of viable options, and it is vital that alternative treatments that are both drug-free and consistently effective are on the table.