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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
stubby

Calmare Therapy

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Hi everyone. My wife and I saw a news story that lead to us calling the only doctor west of Wisconsin who has a machine to perform Calmare therapy. Has anyone else tried this yet? From the research we have done, it sounds quite promising. We have to drive 5 hours to get to St. George where the doctor is, but I will do that if there is any chance to relieve even a bit of my pain. If anyone is interested in how it goes, let me know. We are cautiously hopeful. We have tried other things that haven't worked and I find myself getting discouraged that the pain just keeps getting worse.

If anyone has tried this therapy, please let me know. I am very interested to hear how it worked for you.

http://www.sperotherapy.com/index.html This is a link to the clinic I am going to on Friday.

Stubby

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I hope this works for you. It says it isn't like a tens unit, but it sounds a lot like one. I have a couple of clients with implanted tens units in their backs for chronic pain. They say it has halped a lot. It will be worth it if it works.

Are you sure that your pain isn't coming from an ill-fitting leg? I only ask this as I was recently off my leg for 8 weeks. Because of the swelling from two months without a leg, I had to start using the socket from my second year as an amp. I tried to stay on top of the volume changes, but it wasn't easy. Just imagine this: I went from barely getting into socket #2 to the last socket (#5) I used before surgery in less that two weeks. I noticed during this time an increase in phantom pains. Little wonder though since I was bottoming out, banging like a bell clapper and a host of other bad things for Stumpy. Just a thought.

Good luck with your treatments.

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Thanks for the thoughts Neal. I have actually tried a new socket in my search for pain relief. I have a total contact socket for a mechanical vacuum system and it fits quite well. Nothing seems to help with the pain. Narcotics aren't even helping anymore.

Stubby

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I just looked at the website and I believe this is the machine that was used on me in NYC last year. Not sure if you know my story but I have pain in a certain area of my stump when in my prosthetic and it's not due to an ill fitting prosthesis either. The treatments helped me for about a week. I believe it is a treatment that needs to be continued. Not some thing you just do once. It was also costly for me. I wouldn't have been able to continue since I live in Canada. I know it helped the Dr's husband, he was facing amputation on his arm but by using the machine his arm was saved.

Mary

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I just looked at the website and I believe this is the machine that was used on me in NYC last year. Not sure if you know my story but I have pain in a certain area of my stump when in my prosthetic and it's not due to an ill fitting prosthesis either. The treatments helped me for about a week. I believe it is a treatment that needs to be continued. Not some thing you just do once. It was also costly for me. I wouldn't have been able to continue since I live in Canada. I know it helped the Dr's husband, he was facing amputation on his arm but by using the machine his arm was saved.

Mary

Just how does this machine work Mary? :smile:

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This machine gives electric shocks on the area that is causing the pain. The machine can also give the Dr info so they know if it is working for the patient. For myself, it took away inflammation and a few other things but unfortunately the pain came back within 2 weeks. I would have had to continue this treatment. I did this treatment in Syosset NY for 1 week, and I had 2 treatments a day. It's too bad this machine wasn't here in Canada. I might have benefited from it, and I could have continued the treatments.

Hope this helps?!!

Mary

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For all of you who care, I am hoping to write updates on what happens during this therapy every day. My wife and I can only be down here in St. George until next Saturday evening, so we are going to do double treatments on Tuesday and Thursday.

Day 1:

I came into the office with a pain level of 8. The doctor figures I will be a very good patient for this therapy since most of my pain is caused by nerves. Some of it is caused by inflammation, but only a small portion. He figures that in 10 treatments, he should be able to get my pain to about a 2-3. Hooray.

Dr. Chalmers put three electrodes on the very end of my stump, since that is where the pain is focused. He put two grounds on my upper thigh. He turns each electrode up until just before it starts to hurt. Then he leaves everything at this setting for around 15 minutes. He then comes back in and turns it up again. He did this twice after the initial setup. I was on the machine for about 45 minutes in total. I could not tell very much that my pain level had gone down until my wife starting touching my stump where it would have hurt and I closed my eyes and just kinda thought about how much pain I was in. I walked up and down the hall 5 times after the treatment and my pain level was at about a 1!!! I was so excited. We left the office with next to no pain and I actually got to take my wife and my dog around the block for a walk and a bit of a run! I am so out of shape. We decided that since the treatment worked so well, we are going to shell out the money and do the rest of the treatments.

The lack of pain lasted for 2.5 hours, which the doctor says is above average. However, when the pain did come back, it didn't come on slowly. It came on like a ton of bricks and made me a bit depressed. We will be doing another session tomorrow though.

So in summation, I came into the doctor's office at an 8, and left at a 2. This lasted for 2.5 hours.

-Stubby

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For all of you who care, I am hoping to write updates on what happens during this therapy every day. My wife and I can only be down here in St. George until next Saturday evening, so we are going to do double treatments on Tuesday and Thursday.

Day 1:

I came into the office with a pain level of 8. The doctor figures I will be a very good patient for this therapy since most of my pain is caused by nerves. Some of it is caused by inflammation, but only a small portion. He figures that in 10 treatments, he should be able to get my pain to about a 2-3. Hooray.

Dr. Chalmers put three electrodes on the very end of my stump, since that is where the pain is focused. He put two grounds on my upper thigh. He turns each electrode up until just before it starts to hurt. Then he leaves everything at this setting for around 15 minutes. He then comes back in and turns it up again. He did this twice after the initial setup. I was on the machine for about 45 minutes in total. I could not tell very much that my pain level had gone down until my wife starting touching my stump where it would have hurt and I closed my eyes and just kinda thought about how much pain I was in. I walked up and down the hall 5 times after the treatment and my pain level was at about a 1!!! I was so excited. We left the office with next to no pain and I actually got to take my wife and my dog around the block for a walk and a bit of a run! I am so out of shape. We decided that since the treatment worked so well, we are going to shell out the money and do the rest of the treatments.

The lack of pain lasted for 2.5 hours, which the doctor says is above average. However, when the pain did come back, it didn't come on slowly. It came on like a ton of bricks and made me a bit depressed. We will be doing another session tomorrow though.

So in summation, I came into the doctor's office at an 8, and left at a 2. This lasted for 2.5 hours.

-Stubby

Will be interested to see how this works out for you Stubby, fingers crossed you have success with it.

I had something done which sounds very similar with electrodes for lower back pain by a physio last year, only had a couple of sessions, but found it very helpful in the short term.

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Day 2:

I walked into the doctor's office at a pain level of 8. The doctor put me on the machine the same as the day before with the same number and placement of electrodes. The therapy felt tingly, but not so much as yesterday. I find that I can't really tell what my pain level is during the procedure. Doctor Chalmers only turned the electrodes up once. After 45 minutes, we were done and I was at a wonderful 0!!! I told my wife when she asked me how I was doing that I could do cartwheels down the hall. I did have a slight itching on my stump, but the doctor says that is quite common. After about 2 hours, I found a bit of new pain, and the total pain came back after a little over 3 hours. It did descend quite sudden, but not as bad as the day before. When it came on me, it was a 7 instead of an 8. A little bit of difference is still a difference.

After the procedure, we went back to my aunt's house where we are staying and helped load up all the kids and the four-wheelers to go play in the mud. I did notice that I have been feeling a bit tired after the procedure. We stayed out playing, with me doing a lot on my leg, until around 6 that night. All in all, that is 8 hours that I was up and doing active things on my leg. Haven't been able to do that in a few years. It isn't that the pain didn't come back, it did after three hours, but it seemed more tolerable. I am working myself just like the doctor has asked me to. Getting my brain to really focus on the pain and really see if there is a difference. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and my wife and I got so muddy it was hilarious.

So in summary, I went into the doctor's office at an 8, came out at a 0, and the pain came back after 3 hours to a 7.

If anyone has any questions, please ask me on here and I will make sure to ask the doctor the next day.

-Stubby

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Good updates Stubby. Interesting stuff. Let's see where you are after treatments are complete. I'm hoping for the best for you. I know this is a big problem with lots of amputees. I feel so grateful that I'm not one of them.

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Day 3:

Went into the doctor's office at about a 7. The doctor mentioned before we started that I have been responding better than average for the treatment. However, there isn't much data to pull from. We started the treatment with the same number and placement of electrodes. It seemed to my wife that he turned them up a bit compared to yesterday, but I didn't ask. I had an interesting phenomenon happen during the treatment; I could feel my non-existent middle toes twitching around for a minute or two. I haven't ever felt them separate like that. During the treatment, I have experienced an itchy/tingly sensation underneath the pads that I haven't thought to mention before. The doc turned up the electrodes once and just let me relax and enjoy.

I left the clinic pain free again. I find that my wife and I are in a much happier mood when I am not in so much pain.

The bad thing is that the pain free state only lasted for 2 hours. It happened to descend upon me just before we got to my sister-in-law's house. That really made a good impression right? Oh well, this seems to be a roller coaster ride so far. I hope the pain free state hangs on for longer tomorrow.

Summary: Into the clinic at a 7, out of the clinic at a 0 for 2 hours. Came back at a 6 according to my wife, a 9 according to me. I am not sure if I am able to tell my real pain level any longer. Seems so much worse since I am now coming out of a pain free state. My wife can probably tell better, I am not sure anymore.

-Stubby

As an unrelated FYI, the doctor mentioned that he and a prosthetist down here in St. George want to start an amputee focused therapy group. Something like that anyways. If there is anyone down this direction that wants to get in touch with this doctor, let me know and I will get you his info.

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Like Neal, I'm so very glad that I seldom have to think about pain issues...but I'm finding your updates on the treatments VERY interesting, and I hope they really work out for you! I know that during the years where I was dealing with various foot/leg pains, a pain-free spell was a true gift!

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Day 4:

Today I went into the clinic at a 7. I wish it was less, but the doc is still really confident that I am responding well. I took my leg off and noticed that my stump was really cold, which contributes to my pain level. I was really excited to get started today. These hours without pain are such bliss and I don't even want/need pain pills! I didn't notice any odd sensations like yesterday during the treatment. I kept calling the doc in today to turn the electrodes up. I actually had him turn them up 4 times, which he was more than happy to do and says it is a good sign. I had him turn it up more than I have before. Just to where the tingly is uncomfortable, but not painful. I really want the pain free time to last longer today. I left the clinic at a 0 again.

My wife and I went with her sister and her sister's husband to the mall. We walked around for quite awhile and I noticed that it felt like the ball of my foot was being pinched. Not really painful, just new and odd. We drove the 45 min back to Cedar City after walking around for about 2.75 hours. I was still feeling good at this point. During the car ride, I noticed that my pain level increased while being in the car. I am not sure why, if it was due to lack of movement, vibration, or whatever, but that seems like it should have been a big contributing factor since all of what we did yesterday after the therapy was drive.

My pain free period ended quite suddenly after 3.5 hours. Not long enough. I did go without pain pills for a good portion of the day though.

Summary: Started the day at a 7, left the clinic at a 0. No pain lasted for 3.5 hours after which I was at a 7.

-Stubby

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I wish you all the best with the treatments. It is a very interesting machine. Too bad I couldn't have continued the treatments. Maybe one day it will come to Canada?

Mary

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Hello. Hope nobody mind's that I haven't been able to write in a couple days. I don't know that very many people are reading this anyways. I will sum up what has been going on.

Treatment 5: (I got two on this day)

I came in to the clinic at a 4, but that is somewhat due to the pain pills I took. They were able to take the electrodes to a higher power, which the doc says is a good thing. I felt super tired after the treatment, but left at a happy 0. I was only at a 1 by the time I went to the second treatment of the day (six hours later).

Treatment 6:

Walked into the clinic at a wonderful 1. I had the tech turn the electrodes up three times. The treatment went well and I left at a 0. Super happy. We drove back to Cedar City, and once again I noticed that driving for some reason increases the pain.

Treatment 7: (yesterday)

I woke up super early in the morning in pain, have no idea why though. I had a huge spike of pain just before going into the clinic, so I walked in at a 7. Went through the treatment and was able to have the tech turn the electrodes up a few times, but the nail being driven into my stump never went away. I walked out at a 4.5, so I was quite disappointed. The techs were a bit confused with this result. It was a bad day overall.

Today I am feeling better so far. Woke up this morning at a 4, which is awesome.

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It sounds like you're heading in the right direction Stubby. I hope the relief starts lasting longer. I guess it's a good sign that you woke up at a 4 instead of 8 or above. I think we amputees are used to a little pain. Mine usually runs from 0-4 on any given day. Most of that is not phantom pain though. I don't know if I'm stupid with my sock management or what. The pain I experience is about the same when I have too many socks as not enough. It makes it very hard to determine which way I should be going. Once that pain starts it doesn't go away until I disassemble and go to bed.

If this treatment doesn't work for the long road, have you tried nerve blocks? I've also read that some docs don't make sure the nerve retreats into the sheath when they amputate. They should stretch the nerve out, cut it, then let it retreat well into the sheath. My understanding is if they just cut the nerve at the same spot as the sheath, the raw end will produce problems such as neuromas and sensitivity. Maybe this also leads to phantoms. I don't know. Like I've said before, I'm not bothered by phantoms much. When I am, I can usually attribute it to something I've done.

Good luck. I know you're coming to the end of your treatments. I hope the pain at least is diminished to a tolerable level.

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Treatment 9 (yesterday at 4pm):

I came in at about a 4 to the clinic. I have been battling addiction issues all day, I know that I am going to be going off pills (or at least a lot lower) soon. I noticed that I have not been twitching much since the beginning of the treatments. This is definitely a welcome relief. The highest I got yesterday was a 4, not bad. I still notice that driving makes it worse.

Treatment 10 (today):

I came into the clinic at a 2 WooHoo!! I woke up at a 5 this morning, but some of that is due to the addiction.

We are just about to leave the clinic, didn't notice anything new. I am going to ask the doc if he knows about this treatment getting into Canada, but I haven't had a chance yet. We are going to go four-wheeling now, so I am super excited. I haven't been out four-wheeling without pain for years and years. Today I am leaving the clinic at a 0. So very exciting.

-Stubby

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I'm reading your posts, as I'm sure many others, are without replying. This is very interesting and I hope you get to 0 and stay there.

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I have also been reading your posts but have not replied. Although I have pain it is not nerve pain so I have no experience of what you are going through.

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I am undergoing the last treatment right now. So exciting. I did ask if the doc new of Calmare therapy getting into Canada. He says he hasn't heard anything, but he will keep his ears open and if he does he will let us know.

Today I woke up at a 1, but I thought I was in need of a pill (stupid addiction). By the time we had gone out for breakfast with my sister-in-law and her husband, I was at a lovely 0. Had no problem whatsoever in helping my wife load the car. The problems started in the car ride down here to St. George. My leg just doesn't like the road vibration or something. I was at a 6 by the time we got here. I had pins pricking me between my phantom toes. The doc got me right on the machine though, so I am feeling super good now.

Dr. Chalmers says that this therapy is still on-going after the treatment. Even more so as the brain is still continuing to learn that I don't really have pain down in my stump. So cool. He says he has a lot of patients who haven't responded as well as I have during the treatment, but have continued to get a lot better in the short time after the treatments stopped. My wife and I are praying every day that this completely sticks and I will be out of pain for a very long time. I have noticed so much how out of shaped I have become since all this pain started a few years ago. My thigh muscles are sore from the walking and four-wheeling we did yesterday.

Well, we are about to leave and I am at an awesome 0!!! I highly recommend that you call this doctor and make the trip if you are having phantom/nerve issues and have not figured out a better approach.

Dr. Robert Chalmers, M.D.

Spero Pain Relief Therapy (www.sperotherapy.com)

435-656-1916

I will be on my way home here in a few minutes. If anybody has any questions for me, don't be afraid to post them. My wife and I are going to be staying in touch with the doc closely to help him get his clinic in Salt Lake City started in February.

Hope you all are feeling as good as I am.

-Stubby

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I'm so happy that this has worked for you Stubby. A life of pain sucks.

Does the road bother you both as a driver and passenger or just driving? You are a righty. Do you use your prosthetic to accelerate? You may be putting your leg in an awkward position to do that. I never stopped to think about what a righty does with his leg. As a lefty, my foot rests on the spot built slightly higher on the left side. This enables almost full contact with the floorboard of the car. I'm not sure this matters a bit. In fact I've never felt down there to know that my foot is making full contact. I do know that driving or riding doesn't seem to bother me as long as I'm having a good leg day.

I hope the results last with you and only get better. It will be nice to have a clinic closer to home for you if you need some tweeking down the road. I'll miss your posts. Keep us up-to-date on your results.

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This is interesting stuff...I am alot like Neal, I have been lucky and not suffered from pain like you have. I get a bit of "pins and needles" when there is a barometric change when a new weather system is coming in. I also like Neal find it to be a pain in the butt to figure out the sock system, too many, too few, etc. Since going on the vacuum system, my legs are doing really well and not having any of the pains that I had caused by the pin system.

I am so happy that you are doing better...keep us up-to-date as to how you are...very, very good stuff...

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Hello All. I am glad to hear that some people have been reading my posts. To answer your questions Neal, I am a right BK, but I tuck my prosthetic under me and drive with my left foot. I only drive automatics and my wife drove all of last week.

I am doing really well. Now comes the really hard part, getting off the pain meds. I spoke with my pain management doctor yesterday, so at least we will have some help this time.

I have started my new job and I actually did a ton of walking today. The only pain I have is in my good foot and in my thigh because they are not used to so much exercise. I am so happy.

My wife and I have been telling everyone we can about this new therapy. We are hoping some of you that have been reading my posts tell anybody you know that has nerve pain. We gave the pain clinic some brochures on the therapy and they told us they would call Dr. Chalmers. We are happy to help any of his business because he is helping people so much through this therapy.

All in all, my wife and I are doing so good because I am feeling so good. It is wonderful to be free of the chains that have been tying me down for so long. Thanks to all who have been reading my posts and please don't hesitate to PM me if you want to ask any questions.

-Stubby

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Stubby, there have been over 250 folks who have looked in on this thread...I think you've done a lot of good for a lot of people by telling about your experience with the treatments! I'm glad that it's continuing to go well for you! :wink:

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