Chronic Pain

​ Ten percent of adults suffer from chronic neuropathic pain. The Busath Lab has been exploring the brain mechanism of chronic pain with goal of further establishing the merit of long-term transcutaneous electrical simulation (TENS), particularly as embodied in the unique protocol used by the Calmare(R) instrument. It is easy to detect changes of blood brain flow in pain matrix centers with functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI) when you pinch someone. But for people in chronic pain, there has previously been no equivalent to "unpinching" that would produce a contrast in blood flow imaging. The Calmare instrument provides us this scientific window. People who have intense peripheral neuropathy often report a large reduction in pain after a 30-minute Calmare treatment.

  In August, 2015 we completed an initial double blind study with 18 peripheral neuropathy subjects. Half received a sham treatment receiving traditional TENS and the others received Calmare treatment. Although both groups said they had reduced pain overall, the Calmare group reported the biggest drop in their sharp, burning pain. Furthermore, when the blind was broken and the TENS subjects came back for Calmare treatment a few weeks later, they too reported greatest drops in sharp, burning pain. These results have been presented at three scientific meetings (Snowbird Neuroscience Symposium 2015, Society for Neuroscience 2015, and Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2016). The fMRI results are under analysis.
 Currently, we are testing whether the Calmare is significantly better than TENS at permanently reducing pain when a 10-day treatment course is used. We are carrying out the study with volunteer subjects, which we hope to complete in 2017. Utah Valley residents who have severe and constant peripheral neuropathic pain are welcome to call or email Dr. Busath to inquire about the study. We hope this research will lead to broader availability and use of this technology to serve millions of people struggling with chronic, unremitting pain.