New wearable devices provide drug-free pain management

As youth continue to explore the quantified self movement, the wearables industry is following suit by providing more devices that help people manage their health. Far beyond fitness trackers, wearables now include mood managers, aids for the visually impaired, sex tech, bras with health sensors, and a new wave of wearable pain relief. 


For a bodily function that impacts approximately half of the population, innovation in menstruation products has been slow. Some companies are utilizing legalized marijuana to relieve cramps; Livia has created a wearable to provide comfort from menstrual pain. Two electrodes can be stuck to the lower abdominal or lower back area, attached by wires to a small device that can clip onto a belt or waistband. The electrodes submit zaps at various levels of intensity—the vibrations are intended to soothe the area as well as distract the brain from the original pain.


The rise of legalization across the country has provided many companies the opportunity to capitalize on pot as pain relief. iTens is an FDA-cleared wearable, wireless transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device. It syncs with a user’s smartphone to provide drug- and prescription-free pain relief by sending electrical signals to the applied area that intercept pain signals and release endorphins. The app controls the intensity of the signals and tracks pain level and results over time. The device is suggested to be used for arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel, shin splints, and more.


Quell, the award winner in the Wearable Tech category at SXSW 2016, is now easily available for consumers to purchase at Bed Bath & Beyond stores. The wearable device is an FDA-cleared, prescription-free method for relieving chronic pain. Though worn on the calf, it can provide comfort for nerve pain, arthritic and joint pain, lower back pain, and more. The accompanying smartphone app tracks data on the wearer’s pain levels, sleep, activity, and gait. In a recent study, 67% of users decreased their intake of pain medications when using the clinical-strength neurotechnology device.