I learned about the Quell device earlier this week through social media. It isn’t cheap at $250 but after I dove deeply into the online user comments, I decided I had to buy it. Why? Well, as you may have reason to know or not, when you’re in pain, you want to fix that pain.

First, what is this thing?

It’s a little box that’s lighter than an iPhone but scored in the middle so it flexes. It fits into a pocket and gets snapped to sticky electrodes that go on your leg below the knee. Then the pocket-brace gets Velcro’d around your leg and off you go. It’s a version of a TENS unit but it is wearable and somehow sciencey-special. JUST GIVE IT TO ME!

The Quell: Picture of a black brace strapped to a leg below the knee.

I can’t explain the science; if  you scroll down here you’ll see a helpful video. Having watched way too many YouTube videos of professors explaining the latest research in pain, this all seemed reasonable. But I figured the comments would tell all so I started reading blogs and so on, as well as user comments on Amazon, where people generally spare no rage. And most of the comments were very positive.  So I thought, ok, it is a quarter of a thousand dollars, but on the other hand, pain.

I ordered it and it arrived two days ago. I have been wearing it ever since then. It comes with an app and connects via Bluetooth, so it tells you how much time you have left in a therapy session and how long to wait until the next one. You can wear it also while you sleep, and I have been.

Screen of Quell app on iPhone showing a clock face with time left in therapy session and also that I really need to charge my phone.

What does it feel like?

It kind of almost feels like the leg that you’re wearing it on is a little asleep, which sounds annoying–but only if you aren’t in constant pain. You can adjust the strength of the therapy up and down so you don’t feel it as much. I’ve worn it while walking around running errands, walking the dog, walking on the treadmill, and for the most part I have forgotten it was there. The dog even got out this morning and I had to do a short sprint to catch her (ouch) and it didn’t come loose or impede my movements in any way.

Does it work?

This is why I am writing this blog, because I think it does help with pain. It might not help everyone, but here’s what it has felt like:

  1. I notice a distinct difference in my pain levels when the therapy is “on” vs. when it is off. Today there were a few moments that my pain was at a 7 or 8 with it off (on a scale of 1-10) and then when I put the thing on again, the pain was down to a 4.5 or so. If you are in pain every day, you know that is significant and huge.
  2. There’s an additional quality that’s hard to define but that I’ll call the pocket of my mind behind the pain. If you have had periods in your life without pain, you might remember a different version of your brain that was a little quicker, fresher, more alert. Pain is cognitively draining. I swear: I have felt more mentally alert, and I think it has to do with the drain of pain being eased enough that might concentration is slightly better. (Or all this is because I’m on spring break from teaching this week. If that’s the case, I’ll update with that sad news.)
  3. I have autoimmune disease, so the other stuff that comes with that condition (fatigue, ups and downs due to weather, stiffness, and joint trouble) aren’t addressed by the device.

Any downsides?

  1. One thing about this device is that the goopy electrode patches seem like they’re going to attract dirt and get gross (like super gross) quickly. One electrode is supposed to last for 2 weeks, and I can already see that I’m going to be looking forward to that day. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it that long. A 3-month supply of electrodes is $90, so this could add up. But then as I was sitting there this morning getting my leg zapped, I thought about how many times in the past 2 days already I would have paid $20 to feel slightly better, and I thought: 3. So that’s $60 already. (If you need rationalizations, I make them well).
  2. You have to switch legs or give your skin a breather because users have said the goop irritates the skin under the electrodes. It’s recommended that you put lotion where the patches go. Fine by me.
  3. The therapy is set to go an hour on, an hour off. So the off hour isn’t that good, because the pain comes back. But some people report that the effects of pain relief last up to an hour after a therapy session, and the effect may increase over time. So I’ll see how that goes. I have some weird thing against using it all the time. I don’t know why. Blame Catholicism or Puritanism, I don’t know.
  4. Fashion backward? Maybe, but I do not care the slightest bit.
  5. Another thing: and this might be just me, but today during a rough patch when the thing was off, I was wondering if maybe there was a rebound effect. Could I become dependent on this effect? Was my pain worse during the between-times? I don’t know.

To sum up: It’s not a drug, it won’t wreck your guts, it’s FDA-approved, so there you go. My two cents and two thumbs up.



9 responses to “Quell for Pain Management”

  1. Thanks for your review Sonya.
    This device may help by bringing circulation for a while, but it will probably not help in the long term. In my experience, pain is often tension based, which results in a lack of oxygen, and pain that eventually becomes chronic. I offer information about how I overcame 2 decades of chronic pain on my blog. http://www.sherriobermark.com/blog
    All the best to you.


  2. I am following this journey with avid interest. I also have pain from autoimmune disease and while stress definitely has an affect on my pain levels, this is very different than tension-related pain.


  3. I’ve found that putting regular skin lotion helps with A) with the skin irritation issue and B) makes them last longer than two weeks. Thanks for linking my blog! 🙂


  4. I just got my Quell device a couple of days ago. I’ve used 2 full days at work and the evening I got home and found it had arrived! I think it has helped, but I’m not for sure yet. I have Fibromyalgia, sciatica, bursitis in my hips, degenerative disc disease, hypothyroidism(which makes me achy too), and now the doctors think possibly MS on top of it! Needless to say I am no stranger to chronic pain.

    I am hoping it is helping and sometimes I can swear I feel so much better but then last night my right leg, my worst one, hurt really bad with no relief. But then again maybe without the Quell it would’ve been even worse.

    My fiance has scoliosis and degenerative disc disease and possibly Ankylosing Spondylitis. I got him a Quell too and he said he found relief in only about 20 minutes. He slept with his on last night and said he slept really deep.

    Thank you both for blogging about this. I’m trying to help get the word out there. I read blogs and reviews for 3-4 hours before I decided to buy ours.


    • I hope it works for you! I am having the same questions. I’ve had nights of extreme pain too, but with the crazy weather I wonder if it would be worse without the Quell. So hard to know. I think sometimes that when I pass a certain pain threshold I’m just wrecked anyway, but maybe the Quell keeps me from getting to that point longer. I hope you find some relief! PS: I also have hypothydroidism because of Hashimoto’s–I’m not diagnosed with fibro, but I think somehow these all work together to make the horrible muscle achiness.


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