The opioid crisis grew out of pharmaceutical solutions for chronic severe pain management, and it won’t recede until medicine, science, and the private sector create effective non-drug pain treatments. History shows any war on drugs focused solely on law enforcement will fail. Campaigns that target users, distributors, or manufacturers are incomplete at best; in the worst case they exacerbate the problems. Alternative remedies may be the only realistic and effective hope.

We’ve written about several solutions for chronic pain intended to reduce or replace the need for traditional long-term drug use. We covered Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals’ Probuphine long-term drug maintenance implant solution. Several companies developed percutaneous nerve field stimulator (PNFS) devices, such as Innovative Health Solution’s NSS-2 Bridge. Another company that has a device for pain relief without drugs is Oska Wellness that offers the Oska Pulse.  Instead of using electrical currents to stimulate nerves, the device uses Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) stimulation treatment. This wireless technology does not require electrical contacts with the subject’s skin, and is available without a prescription. According to the company, the technology dilates blood vessels, increasing the blood flow and helping to reduce inflammation.

Early in February, the company announced that the results of a randomized, double-blind clinical study at Scripps Memorial. Published in Practical Pain Management Technology, the study showed the Oska Pulse system significantly reduces pain. The study tracked 30 patients diagnosed with chronic pain in two San Diego clinics. The subjects were given either an actual Oska Pulse device or a placebo. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew whether individual patients had the real thing or a dummy unit, hence the double-blindness. All patients were instructed to use the device for 30-minute sessions 4-6 times the first week and 2-4 times the second week. Patients also were asked to log their pain, stress, and daily use of the device. In the end, the placebo-equipped showed pain increases. None of the Oska Pulse patients had increased pain. The majority reported significant pain decreases. In addition to successful pain management, a number of the active Oska Pulse patients reported reduced stress.

The Oska Pulse Active App is a new smartphone app that allows users to control the Oska Pulse as well as let users track their pain. It will be fully integrated with the device and available for both iOS and Android smartphones by Spring 2018.