Reprinted with the kind permission of Cort Johnson and Health Rising.
Forget the drugs – how about putting your hand in a machine and watching the pain ebb away? Science fiction? One company thinks not – and its recent Phase II study has turned out quite well – thank you.
The Avacen machine purports to reduce pain and stress in FM by increasing blood flows across the body and reducing sympathetic nervous system activation – in about 20 minutes.
The AVACEN corporation touts their AVACEN 100 as the only medical device that's able to provide noninvasive, rapid whole-body muscular relaxation. They assert that simply applying the AVACEN 100 to the blood vessels of the hand will increase the blood flows throughout your body, releasing muscle tension, increasing your core body temperature and reducing sympathetic nervous system activation.
Stopped Up Reservoirs?
The hands, it turns out, contain far more blood than they need to operate. They provide a reservoir for blood that's used to quickly shunt blood to areas of the body that need it. Studies, show, for instance, that blood flows out of our hands and into our muscles when we exercise. When we start to overheat, more blood flows into our hands to dissipate heat to the outside.
In 2013, Health Rising covered a study suggesting, though, that the shunts that transfer blood out of the hands of fibromyalgia patients aren't working properly. Rice's 2013 study indicated that FM patients may have trouble releasing the blood locked up in their hands.
AVACEN believes its product can painlessly increase blood flows and relax the muscles in about 20 minutes. Simply stick your hand in the machine, they say, and watch your muscles relax, your pain and stress decrease, and your thinking become clearer.
Could it be so easy? The machine works by affecting blood vessels in the palms of the hands called the arteriovenous anastomosis (AVAs). It produces 3,000 microprocessors to produce negative pressure and heat in order to push heat back into the body. (The negative pressure is key; putting your hand in warm water will not work.) That heat reduces the blood’s thickness and increases blood vessel dilation allowing it to flow into the microvascular circulation in the body.
The increased microvascular circulation should increase oxygen delivery and nutrition to the muscles while carrying away toxins at the same time. It should also increase core body temperature – a problem for many FM and ME/CFS patients – and reduce sympathetic nervous system functioning.
On one page of their website they show a picture of capillaries in a finger filling with blood after using the machine. The kicker is that the finger is on the hand that was not put in the machine.
AVACEN proposes that the AVACEN 100 does for blood and tissue oxygenation what hyperbaric oxygen treatment is purported to do at a much lower cost. Instead of entering an oxygen chamber, you simply put your mitt into the AVACEN machine. They also assert that the treatment is side-effect free.
Successful Clinical Trial
AVACEN recently announced the results of a Phase II clinical trial. The month-long study, which took place at the University of California at San Diego, involved 22 FM patients (and no healthy controls). Most did two 15-minute treatments a day. Those who did reported a 40% reduction in widespread body pain.
This intriguing product purports to help with three major problems – muscle tension, reduced blood flows and sympathetic nervous system activation – in fibromyalgia and ME/CFS – and to do so relatively cheaply and without side effects.
The study was primitive (no placebo controls, few measures of symptom reduction), but it did take place under the aegis of the University of California at San Diego, and the company is going for FDA certification. If it gets it, the AVACEN 100 could provide a useful adjunct treatment for FM and ME/CFS. There's little sense that it could cure FM, but a 40% reduction in pain is nothing to sneeze at. This little machine looks like it’s something to keep an eye on.
The AVACEN 100 is FDA cleared and available for sale in the US as a medical device for muscular relaxation and the relief of localized pain such as minor muscle pain, stiffness, joint pain, muscle spasms, etc. (The company is now trying to get it licensed for widespread pain.)
At about $2,000, it's not cheap, but then again that should be a one-time outlay. It comes with a six-month money-back guarantee (minus 15%). It's not for sale to use for widespread pain or fibromyalgia. It does not require a doctor's prescription.
About the Author: Cort Johnson has had ME/CFS for over 30 years. The founder of Phoenix Rising and Health Rising, Cort has contributed hundreds of blogs on chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and their allied disorders over the past 10 years. Find more of Cort's and other bloggers' work at Health Rising.