New Device Combines Acupuncture With Four Other Technologies to Alleviate Pain
Acupuncture is an increasingly valuable and effective tool used by medical practitioners to relieve pain. Newer acupuncture methods that use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), light, sound, piezoelectric and magnetic energies have shown success in relieving pain, but there have been few efforts to use all of these treatment modalities together. A new empirically developed technology, developed over the past seven years, combines synergistic use of low-level light, sound, physical microvibration, and sinusoidal magnetic frequencies and simultaneously delivers them via transcutaneous induction to acupuncture or related points.
This article presents a case study of three patients with distinct pain syndromes—shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, and knee pain secondary to osteoarthritis—who were treated using the new resonant-specific induction (MVT-RSI™) technology (previously named MVT Relief Device). All patients had been diagnosed by multiple physicians and treated with conventional medical modalities using various medications to control their pain. They also had been treated with acupuncture with variable responses.
After informed consent, the patients were treated with the MVT-RSI device1 (above and Table 1) using a general pain protocol to stimulate acupuncture points and the areas of local discomfort. All patients were treated at three points, CV8, CV24.5 (Yin Tang), and GV20 (Figure 1), which correspond to the amacrine nervous system, as described by Swanson,2 and local acupuncture points at the areas of local discomfort or pain. No additional electrical stimulation or TENS was used or applied in these case studies.
A 72-year-old male presented with a 6-month history of persistent left shoulder pain and decreasing mobility. His daily regimen of 1,200 to 1,600 mg of ibuprofen provided only minor relief. He was diagnosed with bursitis of the shoulder with impingement by another physician and given one injection of corticosteroids, which only temporarily reduced his pain. He presented for the acupuncture trial. His Verbal Numerical Rating Scale (VNRS) level of pain was 7 out of 10.
On physical exam, the patient could not abduct his arm laterally past 30 degrees. He was offered acupuncture or, alternately, a trial of noninvasive therapy with the MVT-RSI device. He consented to treatment with MVT-RSI device that was then placed on the general balancing amacrine associated points CV8, CV24.5, and GV202 for 2 minutes, followed by Ht1(axilla) and LI15 (Figure 2) for 2 minutes each. After the 4 minutes, the patient was asked to move his arm and rate his pain. He immediately was able to abduct his arm to 130 degrees without difficulty and reported a VNRS level of pain of 1 out of 10. The duration of pain relief was not evaluated.
A 42-year-old woman with a history of type 1 diabetes mellitus presented with chronic, global body pain that had been diagnosed by a rheumatologist as fibromyalgia. Her pain was only slightly ameliorated by amitriptyline, and the use of narcotics caused her cognitive problems. Her VNRS pain level was 9 out of 10. In the past, she had been treated often with acupuncture needling and electro-acupuncture with fair to good results.
After patient consent, the treatment device was applied to three points: CV8, CV24.5, and GV20. The patient received 3 minutes of treatment at each of these points. After treatment, her VNRS pain level was reduced to 2. However, specific areas of her neck (Figure 3), knees, and feet were still tender. After an additional 2 minutes of treatment to each of these specific areas, her residual pain level was relieved to a minimal VNRS level (½ to 1). The duration of the pain relief was not evaluated.
A 50-year-old man presented for treatment of pain secondary to documented osteoarthritis of the right knee. A former competitive baseball player and current basketball referee, he reported pain that began after a patellar fracture of his right knee, with an increase in severity over the past several years. An acute exacerbation of knee pain while refereeing a basketball game prompted the clinic visit. His VNRS level of pain was 10 out of 10.
The patient was treated by application of the treatment device to CV8, CV24.5, and GV20 followed by local tender points on the knee (Figure 4). The patient’s pain was reduced to a VNRS level of 7 after 2 minutes of therapy; after 5 minutes of therapy, it was reduced to 4. The patient reported a VNRS level of 2 after 10 minutes of therapy. After 20 minutes of treatment, the patient’s VNRS level of pain was reduced to 1 out of 10. Long-term duration of pain relief was not evaluated.
Pain is the perception of discomfort at one focus or many foci in the body, and the transmission of a pain signal from the peripheral sensory receptors to the brain is a dynamic process. Research over the past decade has established that it is at the first nerve connection, or synapse, where the peripheral nerve meets the central nervous system in the dorsal horn and that both pain (hyperalgesia) and pain relief (analgesia) are processed3 through the ascending stimulatory pathways and descending inhibitory pathways. It is through the interactions with these pathways that acupuncture is theorized to affect pain4 via a mechanism that has not been firmly established.5
During the past 30 years, the use of electronic instrumentation associated with acupuncture has grown exponentially. Many different devices have been developed for acupuncture diagnosis and treatment. In addition to needles, new therapeutic technologies have been developed that include electrotherapy,4,6 TENS therapy,7-9 piezoelectric therapy,10 ultrasonic therapy,11,12 and light therapy (eg, laser, light-emitting diodes [LED], laser needles).13-15 Each of these technologies offers advantages and disadvantages. The development of effective instrumentation that produces reliable and reproducible results is very challenging.16
The MVT-RSI device was developed by Milne and Spawr1 and combines empirical and theoretical aspects of the following technologies:
Mechanical vibration is the use of very fine physical oscillations to produce therapeutic benefits. Over the past 40 years, studies have shown that vibration therapy causes a myriad of physiologic changes in various organ systems, including the musculoskeletal, endocrine, and nervous systems.
Within the musculoskeletal system, vibration has been shown to increase muscle strength and power17 and flexibility through muscle lengthening.18 The former is thought to occur through stimulation of the “stretch reflex” (tonic vibration reflex) by vibratory amplitudes of 2 to 4 mm.19 Vibration therapy has been shown to decrease back pain20,21 and has resulted in increased bone strength in patients with osteoporosis and osteopenia.19,20