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Treating pain with electricity? It can be done, and we’re going hands-on – literally – with a gadget aimed at alleviating muscle and skeletal problems by way of this zaptastic method.

The staff here at GadgetGuy always seem to be keen to let me try my reviewing hand at unusual gadgets, and since this one involves electricity, it’s even more interesting, since it adds shock value. Literally.

Australian brand ActivLife makes a variety of devices like this, and the SportsMed is one of the company’s higher end models, providing several levels of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in order to reduce pain.

These types of machines aren’t new, and the gadgets commonly known as “TENS machines” have been used for several years as a way for people to alleviate pain. As to whether it works, that’s something that depends entirely on the user, and just how much pain they’re in.

The ActivLife SportsMed model we’re checking out is designed for more than just pain management, with muscle strengthening also on the agenda.

To use it, you merely charge the SportsMed using the wall plug, and then when you want to use it, attach the electrode pads to a part of your body, plug these into the SportsMed, and switch it on.

Electrodes are placed in controlling positions, with only one limb able to be targeted at one time, and the distance between the electrodes essentially being the part that will be shocked.

Controlling the SportsMed is simple: the gadgets starts at a level of zero, and since there are only two buttons – plus and minus – you’re increasing the electrical stimulation level from a starting place that’s consistently neutral. Turning it off is as simple as holding the minus button down, but the moment you start hitting the plus button, you’re switching it on and moving up through the electrical impulse levels.

With each level comes a slightly different surge of electricity into your skin, muscles, and bone. It starts off with a tingling sensation, and then grows, with you controlling it to the point where you feel comfortable. Give yourself too much and you can find it overwhelming, but just enough and you’ll see it can get relaxing.

On the advice of our dentist, we tried it with an acupuncture pressure point during a terrible toothache, and it resulted in some comfort during the ordeal of severe oral discomfort. When we moved the control level too high, though, aside for the comfort we were receiving, we could see the electricity moving our fingers for us.

Likewise, a family member has been suffering pain through the knee joint, and tried the SportsMed to see if it would quell any issues.

“As a 59 year old women that has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both knees, this machine has brought me some relief to the constant pain I have been in,” said Jan Stark, this reviewer’s mother, who helped out in our review by testing the machine in a real world pain situation.