Name Cheryl Crow
Condition Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
How Long She’s Been Living With RA Most of her life
Like many people with rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve found that icing sore joints and applying heat to stiff joints can reduce my pain. I’ve also tried E-stim, or electrical stimulation, for pain relief.
RELATED: 10 Hot and Cold Therapy Tips for Joint Pain Relief
But until now, I had never tried combining heat or cold with vibration simultaneously. Here’s what happened when I tried Vibracool Cryovibration wraps on my elbow, wrist, and upper back and neck.
What Is VibraCool Cryovibration Pain Relief?
VibraCool Cryovibration is a series of wearable devices that provide pain relief by combining cold or heat with vibration. Essentially, the cold and vibration dull the sensation of pain by providing competing signals to the brain via the spinal cord. The “M-Stim” device delivers high-frequency, low-amplitude oscillation that targets the kinds of mechanical nerve receptors that sense deep pressure. If you’ve heard of “gate control theory” for pain, vibration can help “close the gate” and interfere with pain signals as they travel to the brain.
Here’s What Happened When I Tried It
I tried the VibraCool Easy Fit for my elbow and wrist. It consists of three parts: a neoprene compression wrap that looks similar to a wrist brace, a small cool pack, and a small plastic device called an “M-Stim” that provides a vibration, powered by AA batteries. Since it can be used during moderate activity, I tried it on my wrist while typing on the computer. It was a little distracting but I was able to type with it and it did seem to reduce my wrist pain mildly.
RELATED: Smart Health: I Tried HoMedics ParaSpa Plus Paraffin Bath for My Arthritis — and It Really Helped
I also tried the VibraCool Pain Flex, which is designed for pain in the lower back, shoulder, rotator cuff, trapezius, and hip. It comes with the same “M-stim” as the Easy Fit, plus a neoprene pouch for the M-Stim, a cold pack, a hot pack, and a large strap that looks similar to an exercise band. Like the Easy Fit, it can also be used at rest or during moderate activity. I tried it on my hip while walking, and on my upper trapezius and back while at rest. I found it was most comfortable while on my hip and noticeably reduced my soreness in that area.
3 Things I Liked About VibraCool Pain Relief
- It mildly reduced my sensation of pain. Particularly on my hip, I found the product worked to reduce the severity of my pain. The pain did not go away entirely, but I felt the product dulled my sensation of pain.
- It is small and convenient. Unlike some of the cold packs or other pain relief devices I’ve tried, these were relatively small. The design of the neoprene pack and straps allowed me to wear it comfortably during activities such as walking or using the phone, which is more convenient than cold packs that don’t stay in place.
- It’s efficient. I liked that it combined two different modes of pain relief in one device. As someone who has many life hack gadgets scattered around my house, a two-in-one device is a win!
3 Things I Disliked About VibraCool Pain Relief
- The sensation is too strong in some areas. I found the vibration was too intense into my fingers and wrist when I wore the wrist wrap, and on my neck when I tried the Flex. It would be nice if you could choose from a variety of vibration strengths.
- It's hard to get on for sore hands. The VibraCool flex requires you to tie a knot in a band in order to secure it into place, which can be difficult for sore fingers.
- It makes a distracting noise. The buzzing noise emitted from the vibrator was distracting and made this device feel inconvenient for public places or even a relaxed dinner at home.
How VibraCool May Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since many people with chronic pain are still self-isolating during the pandemic, it’s helpful to have pain relief tools one can use in the comfort of one’s own home rather than rely on equipment only available at a doctor’s office or therapy clinic.
The Bottom Line
If you are a fan of cold therapy and are interested in trying other methods of reducing pain, this product is worth a try. It might take some getting used to the unique sensation of vibration, but once you do, it can be a helpful tool in your pain relief toolbox.
Other Ways I Manage My Rheumatoid Arthritis
Disease modifying medications prescribed by my rheumatologist form the foundation of my disease treatment, as these have evidence to slow down disease progression. I also manage my symptoms by using lifestyle choices and life hacks, including:
- Exercise I like to ride my indoor exercise bike to maintain musculature around my joints, maintain cardiovascular health (as people with RA are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease), and improve my mood.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Relief I use mindfulness, gratitude, and acceptance based techniques I’ve learned in therapy to help decrease my stress, which can also help decrease inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Compression Gloves for Hand Pain My compression gloves provide comfort and warmth, which decreases stiffness and helps decrease my perception of pain.
RELATED: Smart Health: I Tried Virtual Reality Telehealth for Chronic Arthritis Pain — And Here’s What Happened