As I may have mentioned before, I got an Alpha Stim machine a couple of months ago. It has two functions: Pain relief and also another setting called Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulator (CES) which helps the brain go into an alpha state – relaxed yet alert!
The pain relief part is done with electrodes like a TENS machine or with probes (pen-like shape). The current is much more gentle than a TENS machine. The probes work faster than the electrodes but are harder to use on yourself in hard-to-reach places!
The CES setting is done via ear clips on the ear lobes.
I have been using it on both settings just about every day since i bought it. The results have been positive, especially the CES setting. I did not think this part was the part that would benefit me the most, as I have a lot of pain issues and the CES setting is generally used for low mood and anxiety. It also helps with sleep. I have found that I am sleeping better, and that it often just makes me feel better in myself when I am having a low point in the day.
The pain part is more complicated for me. In the information it says that some people have a delayed reaction to the effects of the Alpha Stim on their pain. This applies to people who find that they have a delayed effect with anaesthetics and, lucky me, I do. This means that I may not feel any change immediately, but may feel much better the next day. This does complicate things when trying to measure the effects of the machine, and also it is hard to know how much to do and whether to do it on the days when the previous day’s session has had a good effect, i.e. the pain is not really bad at all (but i know it will return)! For most people though, the effects are felt right away and so they know when to stop, and indeed, start.
I have found that I have immediate benefit from the Alpha Stim with pain in my jaw and face and well as it getting rid of headaches sometimes. I have been having trigeminal neuralgia recently and it has been less effective with this type of head pain. I have been using it the most on my chronic upper back, shoulder and neck pain. I think there has been a definite improvement but I still feel the tension in the muscles, especially in my shoulders, and the pain does come back, especially after using those muscles. I think I need to experiment further with the machine, how much to do and when, etc etc. I am still getting the hang of it.
Other pain that I have is neuropathic pain. The Alpha Stim does not claim to help this type of pain but I was hoping the CES setting might help with generalised pain issues and overall sensitivity to pain over time. No real change so far. I also have very tender skin which feels bruised to the touch on my legs (well all over, really). I think it could help with this type of pain but there are two issues: firstly to do my whole body would take half the day, literally, and secondly the probes use a conducting solution on the ends and that liquid triggers my nerve pain (as does all water/humidity) so I have not been treating my lower body very much.
The company I bought it from are very friendly and helpful and I think I will be ringing them for more advice soon. I also want to talk to my acupuncturist about it, as he introduced me to it, but I have not been able to see him recently. I have an appointment next week though.
So in summary, I would say that I am happy with my Alpha Stim, but it has taken some getting used to for me regarding the pain relief. It also needs the help of someone else to do my back well, which is not always very convenient, or else I have to use the electrodes which can take quite some time. The CES setting has been really beneficial and I enjoy using that part a lot.
You can read about it here (this link is to the FAQ page as it is a quick intro but there is lots of other good stuff to read on other pages, like research studies etc).