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13 Articles in Volume 11, Issue #6
A Diet for Patients With Chronic Pain
A Practical Approach to the Management Of Diabetic Neuropathy
Book Review: Handbook of Pain Assessment, Third Edition
Diagnosis of Neck and Upper Extremity Pain
Diet and Nutrition For Patients With Pain—The Time Is Here
Dislocated Shoulder: Approaches to Lessen The Pain of Reduction Techniques
Guide to Dietary Supplements Most Commonly Used in Pain Management
New Device Combines Acupuncture With Four Other Technologies to Alleviate Pain
PPM Editorial Board Outlines Nutritional Advice for Chronic Pain Patients
Prospective Study of a Lumbar Back Brace In an Interventional Pain Practice
Q&A: The Legal Implications Of Medical Marijuana
Smoking and Pain
The Skeptical Radiology Nurse

New Device Combines Acupuncture With Four Other Technologies to Alleviate Pain

Low-level light, sound, physical microvibration, and sinusoidal magnetic frequencies are synergistically combined and applied to acupuncture points and areas of local pain.
Editor’s Note:
This feature highlights unique innovations to pain management developed by our physician-readers. Although these reports are preliminary case studies, the editors encourage research and innovation that have the potential to improve patient outcomes.

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.

Table 1. MVT-RSI Device Specifications

Patient 1

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.

Patient 2

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.

Patient 3

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.

Discussion

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

Figure 1. Amacrine-associated points.

Figure 2. Shoulder treatment.

Figure 3. Neck treatment.

Figure 4. Knee treatment.

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 Microvibration

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

Vibration therapy has also resulted in endocrinologic changes within the body, including up to a 460% increase in growth hormone production, up to a 7% increase in testosterone production, and a 30-fold decrease in cortisol levels.22 This therapy can also affect the nervous system, with one study illustrating reduced tremor in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.23

In the development of the MVT-RSI device, we observed that microfine vibration with an amplitude of approximately 0.01 mm was efficacious in providing extra pain relief without the displeasing thumping sounds that accompanied longer vibratory amplitudes.

Light Microvibration

Light and low-level light therapy (LLLT) have been widely used in Europe for clinical purposes for more than 35 years and have been the subject of more than 3,500 scientific papers published worldwide. Literature has shown that LLLT is painless, nontoxic, and has minimal or no side effects. It appears that one of the safest forms of light therapy uses low-level light in the form of LEDs.24

The beneficial effects of LLLT include an increase in the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and endorphins to reduce pain14; decreased inflammation, edema, erythema, and sensations of warmth; improved lymphatic drainage; increased blood circulation (particularly to areas of trauma); an increase in the proliferation of fibroblasts and osteoblasts; and up to a 75% increase in enzymatic activity.14

Our clinical experience has shown that the use of LLLT in the form of LEDs augments pain reduction via the vibration frequency of the photons. We theorize that the photons stimulate the harmonic vibration of atoms within the cells and improves intercellular communication via resonant energy transduction through microtubules and gap junctions.24

Acoustic Sound Vibration

For many years, medical practitioners have used sound vibration in the form of ultrasound, both diagnostically and therapeutically.11,12 Sound waves stimulate motion of fluids through the body and brain, bringing oxygen and other nutrients to tissues, which in turn, increases serotonin, dopamine, and other neuropeptides and helps to alter our perceptions of pain.26

In addition to the above, there is a second, less scientific understanding of the effects of sound vibration on pain. Since the discovery of music, sound waves have been used as a soothing method of relaxation. There have been many anecdotal reports of healing with sound and music. The mechanism involved in this process may relate to resonance. It is believed that each of our various organs has its own specific frequencies at which it resonates in a healthy state.27,28 Some researchers feel that exposing unhealthy organs to their “healthy” frequencies will assist them in returning to their normal state of resonance and health. By delivering specific frequencies through the body directly, an entirely different system of the body—the brain stem and spinal cord—is brought into play, offering the possibility of direct cellular stimulation.28

Magnetic Vibration

There is growing evidence that magnetic and electric fields affect living organisms. Even the simplest life forms make use of electric and magnetic field effects, illustrated clearly in the process of signal transduction through the gated transport of sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride ions in neurons.29 Given the physiologic role of electric currents within organisms (including humans), over the past 30 years scientists have studied magnetism in living systems and the effects of external electromagnetic fields on microorganisms, plants, and animals. They have classified magnetic fields into two broad groups: static and time varied. Static fields are further subtyped as either permanent or direct current electromagnetic. Time-varied fields are either pulsed or radiofrequency sinusoidal fields.30

Magnetic therapy, based on modest static fields produced by permanent magnets, has not sufficiently distinguished itself from a more accepted form that is based on high-pulsed magnetic fields produced by electromagnets. The actual mechanism by which electromagnetic fields produce biological effects is under intense study30,31; evidence suggests that magnets act on biological systems in multiple ways.32-39 The seminal work of Michael Faraday in the mid-1800s demonstrated that an imposed magnetic field will actually move electric current. This induced energy current could be expected to transport or mobilize areas of unusually high stagnant hydrogen (H+) ions in dysfunctional cells and tissues and thereby help normalize the affected tissue pH (acidosis).

Cellular effects: An important aspect of magnetic fields is that they permeate all body tissues without interference. Various cell structures, including mitochondria, are stimulated by magnetic fields, and relatively small magnetic energies are required to affect chemical reactions in cells.40 These effects are widespread and include increases in intracellular calcium through changes in the calcium channel, changes in the sodium-potassium pump, increases in RNA/DNA production, increased conversion of ATP to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and stimulation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP).14,41,42 Additionally, free radical production can be significantly decreased by magnetic fields at magnetic field strengths as low as 10 to 100 gauss.14,43,44 No cellular damage has been seen from even the most powerful static magnetic fields, but the low-level sinusoidal magnetic fields that the MVT-RSI device produces have not been studied.

Extracellular fluid: The extracellular fluid is very sensitive to the application of magnetic fields. The body is at least 65% fluid, which is mostly a salt electrolyte ion solution. Externally applied magnetic fields influence and charge currents and the electromagnetic field states of the body’s fluids.42

Vascular system: There is evidence that magnetic fields decrease vascular resistance, and increase tissue oxygen perfusion.14,45,46 This effect reduces swelling and decreases clotting and platelet adhesiveness.30

Nervous system: Human and animal studies have shown decreased nerve cell firing after exposure to magnetic fields, which may affect pain perception.14,32,35,43,45 Studies with salamanders show that they can be put into deep sleep anesthesia using electromagnets.47 In fact, specifically designed electromagnets are already used in nerve conduction testing and brain stimulation research.48

Acupuncture system: Magnets produce specific and direct actions on acupuncture points and meridians43,49,50 that are very rapid,51 mediated by the micro-currents generated through the Faraday effect via the tendino-muscular systems that transmit electrical stimuli.27,43

Conclusion

A prerequisite for life is the ability to maintain electrochemical imbalances across bio-membranes. It is known that the plasma membrane potential of a human cell is maintained at approximately –70 mv. I theorize that when the body is injured (or the bio-membrane is less bioactive due to disease or aging), the proton pump within the cellular membranes becomes less effective and the H+ ions stagnate. The membrane potential of affected cells, therefore, becomes less electronegative (eg, –45 mv). When “healthy” cells come in close proximity to “sick” cells with decreased electro-negativity, there exists an intercellular voltage disparity, and cell-to-cell (gap junction) communication is impaired.

This impairment in cellular communication produces a signal carried by afferent nerves to the brain that humans may interpret as “pain.” When the painful area is treated with the MVT-RSI device, I theorize that the area is flooded with multiresonant frequencies, and cybernetic cellular energy induction is produced, which may temporarily increase cellular electro-negativity. Once local cellular communication is re-established, the pain signal rapidly disappears.

Based on the synergistic properties of mechanical, sound, light, and magnetic microvibration inherent in the device, I theorize that the MVT-RSI technology produces resonant-specific induction of gamma synchrony and voltage increases via gap junction quantum effects in microtubules. The increased voltage in the cells improves proton motive force and enhances cell-to-cell communication with resultant rapid relief of pain. Since electrical gap junction communication is noted to be higher in the descending pain pathways,52 the mechanism of action of this device for pain relief may lie in the enhancement of the descending pathway electrical function. Basic science studies will be needed to elucidate and clarify the device’s specific mechanisms of action.

I have found clinically that the MVT-RSI device generally relieves pain as fast as or faster than traditional acupuncture needles but without needles. Relief of pain was observed 2 to 20 minutes into treatment. The degree of the pain relief ranged from 80% to 90%. Given the device’s apparent rapid effects, I suggest that the mechanism of action of the MVT-RSI may be different from that of acupuncture.

Although the results of this report are based on the clinical responses of only three patients, they are clinically promising. A forthcoming pilot study will be needed to confirm these results, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies could be helpful in identifying objective biochemical changes that may occur in the brain in response to treatment with this device. Also, the length of pain benefit was not evaluated. A pilot study will be needed to answer the question of the duration of the pain relief and evaluate any long-term potential adverse events.

Future Research

Ongoing clinical research is underway to combine RSI technology with the latest electrical signaling technology (EST™) for enhanced patient treatment. Recent research notes the apparent synergistic relationship between these two technologies. As evidenced by the known mechanisms of action, EST would also be expected to initiate an enhanced centripetal flow of blood, which could significantly improve circulation, tissue clearance, and patient outcomes.

Last updated on: September 2, 2011
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