Do you suffer from arthritis or another chronic pain condition? A new device, just approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), might give you the relief you need.
Almost one in five Australians (1.6 million) aged 45 and over are living with conditions that cause chronic pain. Doctors have reported a 67 per cent increase in the number of patients reporting chronic pain over the past 10 years, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing (AIHW).
Brisbane-based company CareWear has developed a new wearable pain management system that uses a form of laser therapy called ‘photobiomodulation’ (PBMT) to treat pain. That may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but PBMT has been used in the medical field since the 1970s.
The CareWear wearable light system consists of a number of adhesive patches connected wirelessly to a controller. The patches produce light in the blue and red wavelengths, which is then delivered in controlled pulses to injured areas. It is not intense enough to damage cells.
CareWear says the device can help speed up tissue repair, reduce inflammation and can be used to treat arthritis, back pain, sports injuries and mouth swelling associated with dental work or cancer treatment.
It has been approved by the TGA and a large clinical trial is planned for later this year.
“We’ve known that light can be used to improve our mental and physical health for decades, whether that’s natural light from the sun or LED lights,” CareWear CEO Dr Kulkarni told Community Care Review.
The light produced in PBMT helps with pain by stimulating cells, helping them function not just properly but more efficiently than normal. This in turn speeds up the healing process, reducing pain.
Laser therapy for pain relief has become more popular in recent years. It’s used by both the US and British militaries as well as several English Premier League soccer clubs.
While the potential for CareWear’s wearable light system to deliver drug-free pain relief is there, experts caution that it most likely won’t fix your pain but should complement more traditional therapies.
“There are numerous potential strategies which may be indicated for the management of chronic pain,” says physiotherapist Tim Austin.
“The strongest evidence exists for active therapies, such as exercise and active psychological strategies.”
Changing your diet, physical exercise and medications such as steroids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are still recommended as the main method of dealing with long-term pain.
“Treatment involves a combination of self-management (such as diet and exercise), education on living with the condition, physiotherapy, medication (for pain and inflammation), and referral to specialist care where necessary,” the AIHW says.
The CareWear system may not be a magic bullet for chronic pain sufferers, but anything that can be added to your pain relief regime has got to be a good thing.
Do you suffer from arthritis or other chronic pain conditions? Do you think the CareWear system could help you? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice.
For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.