Heat or Nerve Stimulation: Which Helps Fibromyalgia Pain
Posted Dec 28 2009 6:00am
Most therapies for treating are drug based. Unfortunately, there are adverse reactions that can result from them. Alternatives being researched include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and non-noxious, superficial warmth.
TENS is the application of electrical current through the skin for pain control. This is usually done by connecting two or more electrodes from a TENS unit to the skin.
A study was reported on earlier this year that focused on evaluating the amount of pain relief obtained by fibrolyalgia patients with use of TENS or non-noxious, superficial warmth.
The randomized study involved 32 female patients that were divided into two groups. After being given instructions, the patients treated themselves with either a TENS device or a portable superficial heating device which heated to 108° F.
The patients would rate their pain level on a 0-100 scale before and after each treatment. After 3 weeks, the patients switched to the other form of treatment. After 6 weeks of treatment the patients completed a survey about the treatments and their therapy preference.
Overall, both treatments provided significant pain relief. The improvement using heat therapy was a pain level reduction from 77.5 before treatment to 62.5 after on the 0-100 scale. TENS treatment resulted in an improvement from 80 before treatment to 62.5 after.
Ten of the patients reported improvements of 20 points or more with TENS as did ten patients with heat. As far as preference, 10 of the 32 patients preferred the TENS treatment, whereas 17 preferred heat.
Results of the study were published in the June, 2009 issue of the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.