Scrambler Therapy

Scrambler Therapy decreases chronic neuropathic pain by replacing the "pain message" with a corrective "non-pain" message via electrodes applied to the skin around the area of your pain. This therapy is non-invasive, drug free, has no reported side effects and numerous studies show that it is safe and effective.

Scrambler therapy session

Patient Referrals

If you have not yet been referred to the Scrambler Therapy Clinic, you can ask your provider to send a referral.

MUSC providers can send an order for ambulatory referral to the Scrambler Therapy Clinic. The order will automatically come to the clinic and our staff will contact you.

Providers not with MUSC (outside providers) can have a referral with medical records sent to:

Attention: Scrambler Clinic at Hollings Cancer Center
Fax: 843-792-1190 | Phone: 843-792-9300

Our scrambler staff will then contact you.

Currently most insurance companies are not covering the cost of this therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is it?

Scrambler therapy is for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain that has not responded adequately to traditional treatment:(Ex: medication, physical therapy, injections, surgery, etc)

Scrambler therapy is approved by the FDA.

How does it work?

The MC5-A Calmare scrambler therapy device provides treatment by using rapidly changing electrical impulses to send a “non-pain” message along the same pain fibers that are sending the “pain” message using Dermatomes.

Basically, it changes the message to the brain from pain to non- pain.

How is the treatment given:

Scrambler therapy is administered by a trained professional who has undergone specialized training in this device and therapy.

Electrodes (very similar in appearance to an EKG) are applied to the skin around the affected area of pain. These electrodes will then deliver a very mild electrical impulse.

How does if feel?

Initially you may feel a very mild pinch/bite/prickly sensation, then as the dosing is gradually increased you will feel a vibration/buzz/hum/pulsing sensation.

This is not painful. We are sending a non-painful message.

If at any time you report any pain or discomfort, your nurse will immediately turn the impulse off and reposition the electrode. It is very important to notify the nurse if any negative sensation is felt.

How long is therapy?

Initial scrambler therapy is given daily for 10 days with 2 days off for the weekend.

(Ex: Daily: Monday-Friday for 2 weeks)

Depending on results of therapy, you may need fewer OR more treatments.

Each session is usually 30-45 minutes on the machine once electrode placements have been achieved.

You will be scheduled for a 1 hour appointment in the scrambler clinic. Your first therapy day may run a little over since it will be your first encounter.

What can scrambler therapy not do?

Scrambler therapy cannot cure or correct the underlying condition that is causing the pain. It treats chronic neuropathic pain as a separate and distinct problem by changing the message the nerves are sending to the brain from pain to non-pain.

It cannot eradicate your pain forever. Eventually your pain will return usually in 1 to 6 months. This can happen sooner or later than that time frame based on the individual's response to therapy. When pain reoccurs we can then provide booster therapy. This is usually 2-3 treatments to regain previously experienced comfort levels.

Scrambler Therapy Contraindications

The use of the MC5-A Calmare therapy device in the presence of the following conditions could lead to risk of injury and therefore the following are not eligible for therapy:

  • If you are under 18 years old (we currently do not offer therapy to pediatric patients)
  • If the duration of your pain is less than 3 months
  • If you have an implanted electronic device or battery operated device (Example: pacemaker, implanted pain pump, spinal cord stimulator, cardiac or gastric pacemaker, internal defibrillator, cochlear implant)
  • If you have a history of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or ischemic heart disease, (ex. angina) within the last 6 months
  • If you have, or believe you have, severe heart arrhythmias or a severe heart condition
  • If you are, or could be pregnant
  • If you are nursing (breastfeeding)
  • If you have a history of epilepsy, brain damage, or symptomatic brain metastasis
  • If you have a skin condition or open sores that would prevent proper application of the electrodes
  • If you have a history of allergic reaction or previous intolerance to transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS), or adhesives such as tape, patches, etc.
  • If you have used for pain in the last 30 days
  • If you have any other condition that in the opinion of the scrambler therapy nurse or physician, might compromise treatment.

Possible Contraindications

If you have the following, we would need to consult our physician to see if you would be eligible for scrambler therapy:

  • Metal in the body: (heart stents, aneurysm clip, vena cava clip, skull plates, etc.)

Of note: Orthopedic metal implants for repair are allowed (ex: pins, joint replacements, etc). Ports used for IV therapy are also allowed.

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