As an MS specialist nurse, I have always been aware of how much pain can be a problem in MS. The big one is ‘neuropathic’, or unpleasant burning, tingling or shooting pains that are the result of inflammation, or scarring in the nervous system. ‘Normal’, or ‘nociceptive’ type pain in MS can typically include cramping muscle spasm, pain in stiff or very tired muscles, or the sorts of back or joint pains that can be caused by by being less mobile, or putting a strain on certain joints. Because the medications used, especially for neuropathic pain, can cause very problematic side-effects, including increased fatigue, weight gain, cognitive impairment, co-ordination problems and mood problems, I have always been on the lookout for new, natural, or left-field treatments.
I heard about APS Therapy when my friend, manager of the pain team in Hull, called to say that I might be interested – they were having training from a company in Holland in a little known pain relieving device, which had been having big effects on some of their MS patients, and which they were about to start a pilot study in for people with rheumatoid arthritis, and people with MS. Of course I was!
Having had our training from Maurice, from APS HQ in Holland, It actually took a year before the Hull team were able to start their study, and during this time, my workplace, the Beds & Northants MS Therapy centre, had already allowed us to get started with a clinic machine, running first one, and quite soon, due to popular demand, two machines. Our clinic has now been running for 5 years, now using 4 APS Therapy clinic machines, and one home-use rental machine, and is very busy every weekday, with lots of really happy stories of improved pain and symptoms, and less use of medication.
Given that the APS has:
- reduced my fatigue
- Allowed me to reduce my intake of pregabalin
- allowed me to come off the voltarol altogether,
I think it is a no-brainer that I should continue! – Meryl Lovatt, Northamptonshire.
Because I’m both a clinical nurse specialist in MS, and also have taken on the training and distributorship for APS Therapy in the UK, I’ve been able to train 11 other MS Therapy centres around the country, who now also offer APS Therapy: Leicestershire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Hampshire, Cardigan, Exeter, Manchester, Sutton and Croydon, Suffolk and the MS-UK Wellness centre in Colchester.
This year, with supervision from the University of Bedfordshire, as part of an MSc by research, I aim to carry out a clinical trial on the effects of APS Therapy in people with MS, with MS Nurse colleagues in the NHS.
What are action potentials?
APS stands for action potential simulation. Action potentials are the tiny waves of electricity that pass down nerves and other cells, conducting the nerve signal and stimulating cellular functions. Action potential simulation therapy machines send a copy of this wave, or ‘wave form’ , and also stimulate the body’s own action potentials, between electrodes on to the skin. This results in better communication between cells, improved removal of the waste products of inflammation, and increased production of the hormone melatonin, neuro-transmitter leukine encephalin and the energy carrying molecule, adensoine triphosphate, or ATP.
The release of neurotransmitters, including the body’s own pain regulating agents, is stimulated by the electrical discharge of action potentials along nerve cells, and recent research 26 suggests that stimulation of action potentials creates an increase in spontaneous neurotransmitter release that stays elevated well after the stimulation has ended. This may explain why APS can sometimes be so helpful in MS neuropathic pain.
The results to the user, when it works, include reduction in, or sometimes complete relief of pain, enhanced energy/reduced fatigue, enhanced recovery from injury or exercise, and in many cases, improvement to sleep quality and quantity.
What is an APS Therapy machine?
APS stands for action potential simulation. An APS Therapy machine sends a copies of the action potential, or nerve signal, through the body, to get cells communicating more effectively. This can result in faster healing of injuries, reduction in long term pain, and sometimes, improved energy and better quality sleep.
So what were the results with our patients?
In Bedford, we have been running our clinic now for over 5 years, but at the 2 year point, we compiled and analysed the outcome measurements, and were able to show the statistical significance in pain relief in a paper and also clinical posters, which were exhibited at a number of international MS conferences in 2016.
Poster Action Potential Simulation Therapy for pain in people with MS, report on a two year pilot study (3) (1) (1)
In the first 2 years we treated 60 people with a 6 week course of APS Therapy 2-3 x a week, for pain.
(We planned for 3 x a week, but in reality this was often 2) We found that 78% of those people had a reduction in pain; 23% to pain free.
The average reduction in pain was 3.22 for ‘usual’ pain, and 4.78 for ‘worst’ pain on the
10 point ‘Visual Analogue Scale’ (VAS)
In practice, there was a great variety, from no change, to dramatic drops from high pain levels to pain free, as you can see on the following charts.
We broke the pain types down to study the effects, and our biggest group was ‘neuropathic pain in feet and legs’. Here is the before and after bar graph for that pain at ‘usual’ level from that group; before is dark blue, and after pale blue.
Average VAS (0-10 scale) pre: 6.06 Average post: 2.65
And here is the same pain at ‘worst’ levels:
Average VAS Pre: 8.3 Post: 3.6
The other pain groups were ‘other neuropathic pain’, ‘joint pain or injury’, ‘back pain’ , ‘headaches’ and ‘other nociceptive pains’; all of these groups had an overall reduction in pain; the greatest was for ‘joint pain and injury’.
We found that whilst joint pain, musculoskeletal pain and injury sometimes needed only a short course of treatment to be resolved, neuropathic pain in MS is very often helped, but if it is long term, is likely to need maintenance after the first 6 weeks, of once a week treatment, which for most people, is enough.
In general, people were extremely happy with the treatment. 33 of these first 60 people reduced or discontinued medication as a direct result, which also added to their wellbeing.
We haven’t stopped keeping data, just haven’t stopped recently to collate it! One of the most enjoyable things about being involved in running an APS Therapy clinic at work, is hearing about people with MS reporting not just pain relief, but many other benefits, and the positive impact this has had on their quality of life.
We’ve had reports of reduction in spasms, elevation in mood, improvement to sleep quality, cessation of recurrent UTIs when on 3 x week, disappearance of fatty/benign lumps, improvements to constipation, hormonal balance, and have just had some really big breakthroughs with trigeminal neuralgia.
The most common of the ‘other benefits’ have been energy improvement/fatigue reduction, and because of this, our clinic is now open for people who want to try APS for these reasons, or to help after relapse, when recovery seems to have hit a plateau.
APS Therapy is not a cure for, nor does it have an effect on the course of MS, however, it is a very exciting treatment for some of the invisible, but also potentially disabling symptoms of the condition, especially as there is no risk, and is generally free of side-effects.
We are lucky to have had a wonderful team of volunteers in our APS Therapy clinic, led by our clinic manager, Heather, to teach and assist people, and in my private business I hire, sell and allow people to trial APS Therapy, teaching them how to use it over Skype, Facetime or Whatsapp videocalling.
Action Potential Simulation could be thought of as a ‘natural pain treatment’. It’s not just for people with MS, but it makes sense that people with MS respond particularly well to it, as the problems in MS are due to the inability of the body to conduct its action potentials down damaged nerves.
It’s my aim to attract researchers to conduct large scale clinical research so that we can explore the possibilities of APS Therapy and make it more widely known about; in the meantime, I will be conducting a small clinical trial in 2019 with colleagues in the NHS.
At www.painfreepotential.co.uk there are lots of words from people with MS, who have successfully used an APS Therapy machine to reduce pain, reduce spasms, come off medication in order to start families, boost themselves back after relapse and improve energy levels.
As well as MS, I also Suffer with Anklosing Spondylitis which gives me quite a lot of back pain. The MS itself was making me feel exceptionally tired & I was struggling with bad head aches & a recurring sinus issue.
A treatment plan was put together for me & within 2 weeks of starting the treatment I was no longer waking up every morning with bad headaches. My energy levels were greatly improved & my backache was reduced.
… using this machine in addition to leading a healthy lifestyle has helped me to stay active & continue to enjoy an active lifestyle. – Kat Miller, Bedfordshire.
A recent one that made me smile was from Nina Pearce, from Chelmsford, who said:
26Cho R.W, Buhl L.K, Volfson D. Tran A. Li, F. Akbergenova,Y. Littleton, J.T. Phosphorylation of Complexin by PKA Regulates Activity-Dependent Spontaneous Neurotransmitter Release and Structural Synaptic Plasticity. Neuron. 2015 Nov 18;88(4):749-61