Broadcast on NBC Channel 3 Las Vegas News (Published Online at www.kvbc.com), November 18, 2002:
Device Promises to Rid Pain
Beth Fisher reporting
Pain... We all know it well. Whether you've broken a bone, gone through surgery or live with pain every day, it's something no one enjoys. One company has come out with a device it promises can stop the pain. But does it really work? We had some Las Vegans put it to the test.
Traci Farrar deals with back pain every day, and standing on her feet as a hair stylist doesn't help. "When I'm done with work," says Traci, "I have this sharp shooting pain the middle of my back."
Traci was happy to try out this device called Alpha-Stim. It uses electrical pulses to treat pain, stress, depression and insomnia. Traci told us, "I'm hoping it will work. Yeah. That'd be awesome."
Terri White is also trying out the Alpha-Stim. Terri has multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia so she, too, lives in a constant state of pain. "Some days," shares Terri, "I can't pick up things. I can't open jars. Sitting, walking, standing, bending over, it's painful."
The Alpha-Stim device uses both probes and electrode patches. When Terri tried it out for us, she said, "Now I've got it max, and I can feel it."
You're probably wondering, does it hurt? Terri told us, "If you get a tiny shock where you get the tiny tingling, that's what it feels like. It's just like relaxing the whole muscles and it feels -very- good."
The device is FDA approved, but does that mean it works? We asked pain management doctor Phil Chen. "FDA approved means they have more data support but not necessarily going to work for everybody," says Dr. Chen. "Just like other devices approved by the FDA, same thing."
We checked back in with Terri and Traci one month later. Their verdict?
"Used it moving different spots for 15 minutes," Terri told us. "By the time I was done, I had relief." It even helped ease the pain in Terri's hands so she could use the computer. "My normal pain is around an 8," says Terri. "8 being bad and this has taken it down to some days a 3."
Traci wasn't as happy as Terri with the device. "It was kind of uncomfortable to put it all together," Traci shared with us. "I needed help, and I think if I had to do that all the time, it'd be a turnoff." And as for her pain? "It still hurt. It was the same. I didn't see a difference at all."
As you saw with Traci, Alpha-Stim says its product does not work for everyone.
Terri told us, sometimes she felt instant relief. Other times, it took 15 minutes.
Her only complaint - the patches didn't always make good contact and took longer to relieve pain than the probes.