Buzz Your Way Out of Pain

As adults, we know that going to the doctor’s office can be a pain-in-the-you know what, even under the best of circumstances. But we tend to rationalize our way to our physician’s office anyway, knowing that it is in our best interest to go. Then once we arrive, we will take the visit with a grain of salt.  However, imagine if the patient is a kid.

We’ve all seen the scenario, right? Have you ever seen a child jump for joy, when they are told they are going to see their pediatrician? Of course, not. Don’t be ridiculous. Now, add to that, the child needs a shot. As parents, we have all had to come up with some type of bribe, mixed with a little extortion, for the child to allow the doctor exposure to that bicep or thigh or some other part of their anatomy.  Then after the deed is done, we have fed them candy time and time again, to alleviate that shrieking and hyperventilation, accompanied by many tears. What’s a parent to do, right?

Well, there is a Pediatric Emergency Room Physician named Amy Baxter, who believes she might have the solution we have all been waiting for. Not only is she a doctor, she is a parent as well. What other motivation do you need to start thinking about a solution. Dr. Baxter has invented a device that she has named “Buzzy.” Once you hear about the technology behind this invention, you will wonder and ask the question, “why didn’t someone invent this device a long time ago?”

So, what is this device known as “Buzzy?” It is a palm-sized unit that the caregiver presses against the skin to reduce pain. This device uses a very high frequency, low amplitude vibration along with a freeze-solid ice pack. The combination of the high frequency motion and intense cold activate nerves that run parallel with the pain nerve, and consequently jams the pain signal to the brain.

You might be asking the question, “Why haven’t we heard of this device before?” There are several reasons you might not have heard of this device. The first reason is that this device is relatively new. Secondly, something you might not know exist but there are barriers to innovation in the healthcare world. I will touch on some of them in this blog so that you will have a better understanding and appreciation of the skepticism of the medical community when it come to new / innovative devices.

Most practitioners continue to trust and practice what they learned in academia even though there is continuing education and lifelong learning. There is also the fact that it takes time for new science to permeate to practice. Not to mention that doctors and hospital systems inherently averse to taking risk largely attributed to the legal climate that exist in healthcare today. They find security in continuity to do what they know is right, what is ethical and what is sound practice. Fear of change perhaps? It makes you wonder.

At this point, you may ask the question, so why should we fall “in love” with this product? The main reason would be that the response from the patients has been overwhelmingly positive, i.e., “thumbs up.” In the interview with Dr. Baxter, she mentioned that parents are thanking her all of the time for introducing them to the devise. But don’t just take her word for it. Allow me to share with you what the research has shown.

There was a study in Italy which concluded that “Buzzy” demonstrated significant pain reduction in adolescents with severe cognitive impairment. What is the implication (importance?) of this study? It establishes the fact that this is not the result of psychological distraction. There were two studies conducted on adults in Turkey which concluded that it reduced pain from injections and blood draw about 10% more than in kids. This supports the physiological component of pain relief underlying its effectiveness. Matt, does this make sense or should I leave it off? However, the study that captivated my attention occurred at Children’s Healthcare of Philadelphia. This study concluded that “Buzzy” relieved pain from IV access as effectively as the leading topical anesthetic (Emla Cream or LMX4), but it worked 10 times faster. They were able to perform blood draws and IV starts in 3.5 minutes compared to 40 minutes with LMX4.

There are other studies which are promising and suggest that this technology may also be useful in other areas outside the injection / blood draw arena. Those areas are orthopedics, physical therapy, diabetes, chronic pain and sports medicine. Keep your eyes and ears open for more information on this product as it becomes available to us at and hopefully you will get to meet “Buzzy” if the situation calls for him.


Tony is a Registered Nurse, who has 25 years of pediatric experience. He has practiced as a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, and as a Nurse Manager at Cook Childrens Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. He also has experience in the adult arena, most recently as a nurse in a Cardiovascular ICU and as a Hemodialysis Nurse. He has a wife and two children. His hobbies are Bible study, physical fitness, working with children, writing and blogging.