I’m not sure how many of my readers saw the post Donna from Fed Up With Fatigue posted a month or so ago. In it she wrote about her experiences with a new pain relief product called ActiPatch®. In her post, Donna mentioned there were free samples available by contacting the company.
So I emailed www.ActiPatchUSA.com and requested one of those samples. I have chronic pain arising from old injuries that are probably amplified by my underlying ME/CFS, myofascial pain syndrome and fibromalgia.
In April of 1979, I was a passenger on a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle when the driver had a heart attack and didn’t make a turn in the road. Instead we drove through two crab apple trees and hit a barn. Yes, I can hit the broad side of a barn! 😉 Fortunately, the family was home at the time and immediately called 911.
Accident when 27 started chronic pain journey
I spent 10 days in ICU with a depressed frontal skull fracture, fibula fracture and what is called a “degloving injury” to my right lower leg. (Degloving injury occurs when skin is torn off flesh by trauma.) Once out of my coma, I transferred to a surgical floor for another three weeks with an antibiotic resistant gangrene in my right lower leg. This whole time my head injury, and resulting double vision, was not addressed due to fears of cross-contamination from the gangrene. Fortunately, UW Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin was part of clinical trials for a new antibiotic. That turned out to be the only thing that halted the progression of gangrene. It saved my leg from additional surgical excision of dead tissue and amputation. After the leg infection was controlled, I had surgery to fix the depressed skull fracture and moved to a neruo floor for another 10 days.
Then, in 1995, I was T-boned by a beer truck. (Only in Wisconsin, right?) I had severe whiplash and temperomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Basically, my lower jaw on the left side was knocked out of it’s socket by the impact. This is an extremely uncomfortable thing to have. For several weeks I was unable to eat anything that involved opening my mouth wider than a straw. Years later I continue to have myofascial pain in my neck, left side of my head, arm and shoulder that reaches around to my spine.
I found relief from chronic knee pain and inflammation
Apologies for the digression, but I felt you needed some background before I started writing about how well ActiPatch® worked for my right knee pain. Although the kneecap was okay, I had a jagged wound reaching into my thigh on the left side and no muscle or ligaments there. Consequently, the outer side of my knee had to compensate even though it also was missing muscle and an anchor for the lateral collateral ligament.
I always have inflammation and swelling in the knee. I cannot kneel or put weight on the joint. Since I have neuropathic pain resulting from all the nerve injury, the combination creates a kind of pain synergy.
You can understand why I was so eager to try the ActiPatch® sample. Coincidentally, the device is shown over a knee in the marketing materials.
As you can see in the photo of my own knee below, the ActiPatch® surrounds the kneecap. The loop is supposed to be positioned over the area of greatest pain. You can also see that my knee is not swollen which means it is not inflamed.
A highly reactive nervous system amplifies pain
As most of us with chronic pain know, pain lasting more than a few weeks can easily become chronic. This causes the nervous system to always be highly reactive. This amplifies and maintains the pain even after the initial injury has healed. Therefore, chronic pain is often poorly correlated to the degree of peripheral tissue injury.
According to the product website (www.actipatch.com), the ActiPatch® sends out electromagnetic signal pulses 1,000 times per second to stimulate neuromodulation of the afferent (carries sensory information from the body, into the spine/central nervous system) nerves to dampen the brain’s perception of pain.
This is basically what I learned as the Gate Control Theory of Pain. Afferent nerves are smaller than the nerves that conduct sensations such as touch and pressure. All peripheral nerves feed into the spinal column at different levels. When the painful area is flooded with other signals that involve the large nerves, pain is stopped from traveling any further than the outer part of the spine. Essentially, the large-fiber nerves shut down the “gate” into the CNS so pain signals don’t get through.
To avoid the body getting wise and allowing pain to go through again, the ActiPatch® pulsed signal rate prevents adaption so it can be used long-term, according to product literature. Obviously, pain relief improves sleep, physical activity and overall quality of life.
Device works for many causes of pain
Although I used it on an old injury, the company says ActiPatch® can also be used for fibromyalgia pain, arthritis (definitely a problem with my knee), and nonspecific muscle and joint pain. It works on acute injuries such as sprains and strains, too.
To the left is the trial device which lasts for seven days. The other products are designed to last longer but cost more. You can purchase an ActiPatch® designed for back pain,
muscle pain, shoulder pain (stick an arm through the ring) and other painful spots, too. The trial loop retails on Amazon for just under $10. Longer-lasting products are around $30 for a cost of a dollar each day. That seems like a pittance when compared to the costs of prescription pain pills, ointments, TENS units, rice sacks and supplements. Plus, there are no medication side effects. If you click on either picture it will take you to the Amazon sales page. I receive, as do many other bloggers, a very small percentage of sales purchased through my link.
Device downsides can easily be managed
I’ve been raving about how well the thing works, but there are some downsides. For example, the battery cannot be changed so the ring must be thrown away (in normal trash) after each use. On the other hand, batteries, except for the trial 7-day version, last for 720 hours or 30 days. I also think the device could be more easily situated on the body if it weren’t a circle. My right ankle has arthritis, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the loop work without bending it. I thought this would stop the free flow of energy. However, I watched several YouTube videos both explaining and demonstrating the device. In one of them a woman shows how she uses it for wrist pain by twisting the loop, doubling it and sliding over the hand onto the wrist and forearm.
The trial came with a generous supply of band-aid like strips. I found them difficult to open and apply without the strip sticking to itself. It would be impossible for someone with diminished hand mobility due to arthritis, cerebral palsy, injury, etc. You will definitely need some sort of sleeve or bandage to hold the device in place.
When all is said and done, I will be buying a long-lasting 30-day ActiPatch® for my knee. Maybe also one for my back and another for the ankle if I’m feeling flush with money. The ring I used on my knee went on my lower back first where it immediately stopped pain signals. I wore it overnight. When I took it off to try it on the knee, I still had back pain relief for about a day afterwards. However, my back pain is minor compared to others of us, so don’t count on your relief being maintained after the device runs out of energy.
I’d love to hear your comments. Did anyone else trial the ActiPatch®?