Medical breakthroughs just amaze me every time!
Electrotherapy using electrodes for TENS unit has become broadly used across the medical field these days. Although some studies have proven transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to be effective for short term pain relief, its long term benefits as well as its use in cancer therapy, specifically neuropathic pain associated with cancer, still have to be further studied.
Cancer Research UK conducted a study in 2008 to test if nerve stimulation with the use of the device and electrodes for TENS unit is effective in controlling pain caused by cancer, especially cancer that has already metastasized (spread) to the bones which can be extremely painful. According to oncologists, they usually manage cancer pain with high-end pain pills such as biphosphonates and opioids, and radiotherapy. These treatment modalities don’t work for some and are oftentimes associated with some adverse effects. That’s why TENS is viewed to be a good alternative.
Twenty-four participants were recruited in the clinical trial and they were divided into two groups and the study lasted for over a year. Both groups received active and placebo (dummy) TENS. The study utilized both numerical and verbal pain ratings to evaluate the pain level prior and after TENS therapy. Electrodes for TENS unit were then placed on painful areas and each of the participants received the therapy, either active or placebo, for an hour and for another hour a few days later. The majority of the participants find the machine easy to use and that it made them pretty comfortable.
The study found that TENS indeed offered effective pain relief among the participants.
Furthermore, pain relief was also found to be more effective when the patient is moving than resting. One of the pitfalls encountered in the study, though, was recruiting participants. During the entire duration of the study, only 19 subjects managed to stay. The researchers also planned to conduct another study, this time on a larger sample.
This goes to show that TENS therapy really has a lot of benefits.