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Does Nerve Stimulation Really Help with Chronic Pain?

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Do you suffer from chronic pain? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) states that “while acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists.” The NINDS adds that the most common complaints for chronic pain are psychogenic pain, neurogenic pain, arthritis pain, cancer pain, lower back pain and headaches.

While medication are often used to manage the symptoms, patients may look to other options. One treatment option is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, abbreviated as TENS. Often used for diabetic neuropathy pain, the TENS machine has electrodes, which are attached to the patient's skin at the areas of pain; the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that these “electrodes should not be placed over the eyes, heart, brain, or front of the throat.” Once the electrodes are attached, an electrical signal is sent out to the patient's body. Each session lasts between five and fifteen minutes, with few side effects, except the risk of skin irritation or burns from overly intense electrical current.

However, as the ACS and an article from Health.com point out, TENS may not be beneficial for chronic pain, particularly lower back pain. Denise Mann, author of the article “Bad Back? Nerve Stimulation Won't Help,” reports that the American Academy of Neurology released guidelines stating there is little evidence that TENS helps with chronic back pain. Part of the problem is there are few clinical studies on the effectiveness of TENS.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Chronic Pain

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