Skip to comments.Popular Treatment for Low-Back Pain Doesn't Work
Posted on 12/30/2009 10:09:54 PM PST by neverdem
Mild electric shocks supplied by a portable device, a process called TENS, have been used for years to treat chronic low-back pain.
Problem is, it doesn't work, a new study concludes.
Anyone currently getting transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) treatments should consult with their doctor about the new findings, researchers said.
"The strongest evidence showed that there is no benefit for people using TENS for chronic low-back pain," said Dr. Richard M. Dubinsky of the Kansas University Medical Center.
However, there is good evidence showing TENS can be effective in treating diabetic nerve pain, the researchers said. More research is needed to see if that's true, they said.
Past research on TENS has produced conflicting results. In the new study, the researchers reviewed all studies involving low-back pain lasting three months or longer. Acute low-back pain was not studied. The evidence to date show that TENS does not help with chronic low-back pain, they conclude.
However, there is good evidence showing TENS can be effective in treating diabetic nerve pain, the researchers said...
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Takes me back to a study I helped with in the early 80s. The therapists were blinded as to which devices had batteries and which didn’t. We applied the units to postop hip and knee replacements. Responses were graded by how much narcotic pain medication the patients required in addition to the TENS for pain relief. On discharge we would open the unit and record whether the device had active or inactive batteries.
At least for the period we tracked them, responses were similar with a definite placebo effect. One particular patient was having a 2nd replacement hip and she raved about how the TENS was so helpful, how she wished she could have had one for her first surgery, etc., etc. Turns out the batteries in her unit were inactive.
I thought those things could be felt so no true double blind could be done. It might have a counterirritant effect, like Ben-Gay.
Losing weight, stretching and doing core exercises are the only treatment that has worked for me.
They definitely help when muscles are in spasm.
They can be, they can also be cranked up to shock the living crap outta you.
Core exercises that target the back and abdomen would help MOST people who suffer lower back pain.
You’re right in that double blind is near impossible. Part of the protocol was to counsel patients that they may or may not feel anything. Course it was rather obvious if we made the mistake of changing an electrode in an active unit that had been left off.
I had bone spur surgery on my big toe 2 years ago. The surgeon sent me home with the device, which I got to keep BTW. I have to say, it really worked on the post-op pain I had for the 1st month. I guess it just doesn’t work for everything.
If your pain is really bad you may have to crank it up to full throttle. ‘Sorta like hitting your thumb with a hammer makes you forget about a headache.
I’ve used one myself for acute low back pain and it worked. It does indeed have a counter irritant component. The nerve fatigues and the pain is improved. Don’t have an opinion on the chronic pain. Unfortunately for acute pain the only real treatment is time, and for chronic pain we don’t even have that.
I swear by hip and pelvis muscle stretching for mine own back issues.
I reccomend deadlifts for preventitive measures. :)
The single best remedy for my back aches was situps. Strengthen the front and stretch the back says I.
“TENS is probably effective in treating painful diabetic neuropathy (2 Class II studies).”...
A bit off sub...
No, not likely..I can tell you by experience, TENS therapy does little (For some that I speak with) and Absolutely Nothing, but Increase Pain for advanced (Burning) Type 1 Peripheral Neuropathy..8 yrs. Personal experience. Great that it helps some, but far from a good answer..