Smart Relief is a battery-powered TENS therapy device the manufacturer states is designed to get rid of back pain. Smart Relief is applied to the afflicted area via an adhesive pad and they claim it has 63 levels of electrical impulses so you can adjust the intensity to give you maximum relief. Ahhh!
Smart Relief is sold under the brand Icy Hot, a hot/cold topical application that has been around since 1972. They are a part of Chattem who are themselves a subsidiary of Sanofi. Both Chattem and Sanofi have an A+ rating from the BBB and Chattem has been accredited since 1960.
About TENS Technology
TENS is more formally known as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation a pain relief process that involves attaching a device to the body that delivers small electrical pulses. These tiny zaps are thought to either block nerve impulses or stimulate the production of endorphins to reduce pain.
A form of TENS has been used since ancient Roman times, where it was reported that people used to stand on electrical fish for pain relief (thanks Wikipedia!) In the 1970s the first modern TENS machines were developed and sold. Although prescribed by many physicians and praised by a lot of people, reliable clinical studies showing TENS actually works are few. According to a Canadian study, patients undergoing TENS experienced the same amount of pain relief as those using a placebo and it is still unclear how or why this kind of stimulation works.
The Smart Relief Pitch
Smart Relief is pitched by basketball icon Shaq, who uses his personable demeanor as well as his star power to convince you of its benefits. Speaking in an almost nonchalant manner, Shaq shows how easy it is to attach to your back, adjust the intensity level and relax as the pain is zapped away. At the end, he does a silly dance for the camera to show how good he feels.
How Smart Relief Works
Smart Relief is a small device that measures 6.6 x 2.4 x 6.4 inches that has 3 buttons on its face. In spite of the fact that Shaq says it’s “wireless,” that just means you don’t have to plug it into a wall: it uses a 3V CR2032 battery, one of which is included with your purchase. Smart Relief attaches to your body with an adhesive pad that is reusable 12-30 times; you can also buy replacement pads separately. They caution this device should not be used if you have a pacemaker or are pregnant.
To use Smart Relief, Shaq says to peel off the backing of the pad and attach one side to the unit and the other to the area of your body (most likely the lower back) and press the “on” button. They state you will feel a small tingling sensation, which intensifies as you push the “up” button and decreases with the “down.”
When you find the correct setting, meaning the impulses have stopped the pain, close your eyes like Shaq does and (try to) relax. They claim the pulse sessions last for 30 minutes at a time, but you can restart and wear all day if you like as long as you don’t go to sleep wearing it.
When done, remove Smart Relief, re-attach the backing to the adhesive, and do a “happy dance” (optional).
Smart Relief Costs
Around $39.99 plus shipping but It depends on where you buy it. Smart Relief is sold online by Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, AmericaRx.com, and Medichest.com. It’s also available in stores such as CVS, Albertsons, and Target. Each unit comes with a 3 Volt battery and adhesive pad. Return policies vary, but basically all these companies offer at least a 30-day return and may offer free return shipping. Check with the store for details.
Bottom Line: Is Smart Relief a Scam?
Icy Hot, Chattem, Sanofi, and even Shaq have a good reputation. Smart Relief may indeed pulse against your body and relieve pain like they say it does. However, we should point out:
- TENS technology has not been clinically proven to provide pain relief. Although it does seem to work for lots of people, it may not work for you.
- You should not attempt to use it if you have a pacemaker or if pregnant.
- The most common complaint about Smart Relief is that it uses a non-rechargeable 3 Volt battery that quickly drains. You may need to stock up on batteries if you purchase this product.
- There is no interface to indicate level of intensity so you have to do some guesswork.
- It may be difficult to operate if stuck to your lower back.
- Some say you get the same amount of relief from an ointment like Icy Hot.
Let us know what you think. Did you buy Smart Relief and did it zap away the pain or just drain the pocketbook? Let us know below!