How has Alpha-Stim M Changed Your Professional View of Anxiety and Pain as Coexisting Conditions

An Interview with Dr. Devon Charlton on Alpha-Stim for Treating Pain

More and more, research is showcasing the connection between pain conditions and anxiety and insomnia. Patients with chronic pain are especially susceptible to these coexisting conditions, and it’s pushed physicians to consider more comprehensive treatments that account for the body and mind collectively. 

To gain more insight into this, we sat down with Dr. Devon Charlton, MPH, FACR, FACP,  to discuss his views on pain and anxiety/insomnia as coexisting conditions and how Alpha-Stim M has influenced his treatment approach and view of pain management. 

Alpha-Stim: Thanks so much for talking with us Dr. Charlton. First off, how did you hear about Alpha-Stim? Can you tell us a bit about how you got started with Alpha-Stim?

Dr. Charlton: Honestly, I don’t remember exactly where I found the information, but I think it was within one of our journals. I was looking for options for our chronic pain patients and for my own orthopedic injury-related pain. I contacted the representative and tried the Alpha-Stim M unit for a 30-day trial. 

From there, I worked on troubleshooting and fine-tuning techniques with the device before I offered it to patients.

After working with Alpha-Stim for some time, I then would return to the local representative with additional questions on specific difficult situations and interesting observations. I also started attending webinars and live presentations primarily focused on behavioral health and pain management specialists. Interestingly, I seemed to be the only rheumatologist attending, therefore I found that I had some unique insights that others may not have experienced due to the difference in our medical domains. 


Alpha-Stim: As a rheumatologist, you see a lot of different pain conditions. How do you use Alpha-Stim M with your patients?

Dr. Charlton: Rheumatologists see a large variety of disease and clinical situations frequently extending beyond the straightforward rheumatological disorder including but not limited to post-surgical, acute, and chronic musculoskeletal pain; central pain disorders; poor sleep patterns; situational anxiety and depression, etc. Furthermore, even when we have control of the underlying rheumatological disorder some patients still have difficult-to-treat pain, fatigue, and sleep dysfunction requiring additional modalities and out-of-the-box thinking. 

The body is quite electrical and from an engineering perspective, the MET and CES that Alpha-Stim uses provides an interesting method of targeting these electrochemical pathways which we may miss with our typical approaches.  

I offer Alpha-Stim during the office visit as another non-invasive and non-medication-based tool in managing pain, anxiety, and [insomnia] in the appropriate patient. 

I can either start a session within the office visit or I can set them up with a unit at home. And then I can help with any difficulties, questions or incorrect techniques going forward at follow-up visits. I am confident that if there are no positive results within the first 3 weeks, then it is not being used correctly. 

Examples of what I’ve experienced include, but are not limited to the following observations with MET and CES modalities with Alpha-Stim M:

  • Dissipation of neuropathic pain, complex regional pain syndrome discomfort, allodynia and dysesthesia; 
  • Sudden decrease in pain with acute injuries, post-operative states including areas around wounds or chronic arthritic pain; 
  • Snapping out of a sympathetic and anxious state, so that I could simply complete an exam and/or conversation; 
  • Longer periods of sleep with less daytime fatigue or simply being able to fall asleep;
  • Rapid improvement of acute disc herniation-related pain and muscle spasm.

Every patient has been different in their responses and sometimes more than one round of treatment was needed, or I wasn’t targeting the correct source of pain and I had to make an adjustment. Ultimately, I found that I was obtaining results with Alpha-Stim that I wasn’t achieving with medications or with other conventional interventions. 


Alpha-Stim: Has Alpha-Stim M changed your view on the pain care continuum? If so, how?

Dr. Charlton: I have supported the idea of pain being on a continuum influenced by multiple factors and treating it as such rather than pain as being within discrete buckets.  I feel that I fail in treating the patient’s pain when simply focusing on the direct rheumatological pathway(s) rather than working on the multiple variables within the continuum. Therefore, as I treat specific organic pathways within rheumatology, I also work on the mechanical factors and the often-ignored holistic variables to tackle more spokes of the wheel. 

When I started adding MET and CES modalities from the Alpha-Stim M, I could see and hear the immediate and the prolonged compounding effects; and it felt like I was previously missing a much-needed tool in the daily battle.


Alpha-Stim: Evidence shows anxiety and insomnia, as well as depression, co-exist with pain. Have you seen this in your patients? And how has this changed your perception of pain treatment and how do doctors approach this?

Dr. Charlton: I witness these connections in a wide breadth of patients pretty much every day within the rheumatology domain. For example, I see patients with a controlled disease yet they still suffer from pain and exhaustion that doesn’t match the testing or exams. And once we dig deeper and start treating the concomitant sleep, lifestyle, and mood variables, we start to see improvement in the pain levels, energy, sleep patterns, nutrition, etc.  

In another example, today’s world is always on and so our mind and body are adding to biological discord; however, the Alpha-Stim M’s MET and CES combination provides another way to tone down the disharmony whilst minimizing medications, adverse effects, and cost.

Overall, I think most doctors know the intertwining of these variables, but it’s easier and faster to explain it and leave it to the patient to fix or throw medications at the problem. Instead, I aim to empower the patient to find healing and eventually not to need me in the future. I sort of practice along the lines of what Sir William Osler once said, “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.”


Alpha-Stim: Finally, Alpha-Stim M is designed for mind and body treatment. How has Alpha-Stim changed your view of pain and anxiety/insomnia as coexisting conditions? And has it changed your treatment approach for your patients as a result?

Dr. Charlton: In addition to my previous observations and thoughts, I have become more aggressive in treating anxiety and insomnia in parallel to pain management. Secondly, I find myself more empathetic to the reality of their pain, sleep disorder, exhaustion, and anxiety even when the exam, imaging, and lab testing don’t necessarily support the reported condition.  Yet, I find the most difficult obstacle is communicating the connection and obtaining patient buy-in as we work to address the indirect pain factors.


Alpha-Stim: Thanks so much Dr. Charlton! Anything else you feel is important to share related to treating pain either for patients or other healthcare professionals?

Dr. Charlton: I have been gathering many examples of interesting clinical responses and situations in which we previously felt stuck or didn’t realize the obstacles preventing further healing until we broke through with the MET and CES modalities of the Alpha-Stim M, but we only have so much time and space for discussion. 


The above responses are not the thoughts or opinions of Alpha-Stim or Electromedical Products International, Inc. 

*FDA cleared for anxiety, insomnia and pain only, with approval for depression outside of the United States.

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