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Review of: Omron Electrotherapy Pain Relief Device

I've had doctor-administered electrotherapy for pain, and it works. This sort of therapy gets at a few possible root causes of pain while promoting healing. While it does trigger the body to release endorphins (natural pain relievers), it doesn't involve any drugs for its pain relief effects.

The problem I've always had, until now, is getting this therapy requires a doctor's visit. The Omron Electrotherapy Pain Relief Device solves that problem.

My review won't address the efficacy of this kind of therapy; that's already well-established. My focus is on the device and its the enclosed instructions. The reason for commenting on the instructions is it's a home medical device and thus instructions are not a trivial concern.

This is an actual medical device, not some cheap imitation of one. At under $70, however, it's inexpensive. This product is "FDA Cleared" as a Class II Medical Device.

The controls are simple. Of course, there's an on/off button. There's also a button that allows you to choose one of three preset programs (arm, lower back, leg/foot). Each of these programs has five intensity levels, which you select by pushing the Up button or the Down button. Pretty simple.

As with the much larger unit at the doctor's office, there are leads that run to electrodes. It wouldn't be electrotherapy without electrodes. These are in the form of self-adhesive pads (good for about 150 uses), and Omron provides a nice pad storage method (a pad holder designed specifically for these pads) so that you actually get those 150 uses instead of maybe only 5 because of improper storage.

At four inches long (and 2.5 inches wide at their widest point), the pads are pretty big. Both their size and their shape are about optimal for placing them in the intended areas covered by the three preset programs.

The pads snap-clip to a special little cable that ends in a connector that clamps to, and inserts a plug into, the control unit.

So, it's easy to set up and easy to use. The one possible downside is there's no belt clip or strap. Thus, you are expected to stay stationary during your treatment. However, I think that is the way it should be, and thus it's the intention rather than an oversight. Walking around when you should be relaxing would probably undermine this sort of therapy. You can use the fairly short therapy time to meditate or read.

The two most common complaints about consumer products are the packaging (sadists ensure their product is in a tough plastic that is maddeningly difficult and downright dangerous to open) and the instructions (quite often, the instructions are written by someone high on crack or are translated from an Asian language by a first-year ESL student).

The people at Omron to packaged this in a manner that posed no problems. Have you ever noticed that is not the case with, say, Ibuprofen or Aspirin?

So, what about those instructions? You actually get three "layers," the first being the box. It clearly shows what's inside, and also lists the contents (portable unit, 2 AAA batteries, 2 pads with pad holder, electrode cords, instruction manual, quick start guide, and pad placement guide.

And on the box it says do not use with an implanted or attached medical device, on children, or on unhealthy or damaged skin. On the back panel are some informative illustrations and some other info.

The Quick Start Guide is a two-sided, long strip of paper. On side one, it lays out the six steps of use and provide illustrations. They made this very simple and easy to follow. Side one also has two panels with additional information for the first-time user.

On the back of this strip is a series of illustrations showing where to place the pads for therapy to a particular part of the body. No mystery, here.

The manual is the long version of all of the above. And the lawyers at Omron apparently were concerned about contestants for the Darwin Award trying to come up with ways to abuse the device and then sue. There are seven pages of precautions and warnings. They are worth reading for the entertainment value alone, but among all of the "any idiot knows that" text there are a few things that you might not realize. So read those precautions. The 32-page English portion of the manual is repeated en Espanol.

I really like this device. If used properly by an informed person as a complement to standard medical care, it will speed healing and reduce suffering. I'm not a chronic pain sufferer, but I get my share of muscle pain due to heavy training and (rarely) injuries. No joint pain, and I hope that continues.

I honestly can't think of anyone who can't benefit from having this Omron product. The week I got it, I showed it to a nurse (friend of the family) and to a physician's assistant (family member) and both were very positive about it. The week after, I mentioned it to a doctor who uses the clinic model at work, and he also had a very positive response. Used properly on an outpatient basis, this additional electrotherapy can significantly shorten the overall treatment time.

For extreme athletes such as climbers, hard-core weightlifters, long-distance cyclers, and competitive runners, it's a "must-have" item that you can easily incorporate into your standard recovery program.

For weekend warriors, who are prone to muscle tears and tendon problems, don't use this as a way of avoiding proper medical care. Advise your doctor or physical therapist that you have this and use it complementary to the program they outline for you.

People who don't do athletics also get muscle pains, especially back pain. This device can help you reduce the time you endure inflammation. It will also improve blood flow to those areas that are sore but have a weak blood supply (e.g., connective tissue). And, of course, you get that endorphin rush without putting on the jogging clothes and hitting the road.



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