Using TENS Unit for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes. Recent estimates show that DPN affects approximately 50% of people with diabetes in the United States. Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) has been defined as the clinical scenario in which neuropathic pain arises as a direct consequence of DPN.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the delivery of electricity across the intact surface of the skin to activate underlying nerves with the objective of providing symptomatic relief from various forms of pain, such as chronic pain due to DPN. A number of recent systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses concluded that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be an effective and safe treatment for painful diabetic neuropathy. However, there is a need for additional well designed, larger, randomized clinical trials to solidify these conclusions.
Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) is one low-cost option that patients can administer at home. TENS UNIT has been used as a treatment for DPN since at least the late 1990s. Basically, TENS UNIT uses electrodes placed on the skin near the location of pain. Transcutaneous electrical impulses modulate transmission of pain impulses to the brain by inhibiting presynaptic transmission of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, which directly inhibits nociceptive stimuli. There may also be an element of endogenous pain control, via stimulation of enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins.
TENS UNIT is often used as an adjunct to medication. Duration of application ranges from 30 minutes to continuous, and treatment duration ranges from days to months.
Researchers generally agree that TENS UNIT can provide sufficient relief of DPN pain, especially during initial use, although its long-term effectiveness is unclear. While some patients may experience enduring benefits, for others the analgesia may occur only during actual stimulation. Although definitive conclusions have been hampered by methodological inconsistencies in study design and small sample size, several recent reviews have looked at the efficacy of TENS device for the relief of DPN. Briefly, these reviews have found the following:
- A 2010 report of the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology found that TENS Unit is “probably effective” for treating diabetic neuropathy, and recommended TENS machine for consideration in treating DPN (based on a review of 2 prospective matched cohort studies meeting inclusion criteria).
- A 2010 review article in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine found that research evidence is consistent and sufficient enough regarding the benefits of TENS device to recommend it for use in treating DPN (based on 3 large studies and 1 small study meeting inclusion criteria).5
- A 2010 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found a significant decrease in mean pain scores at 4 and 6 weeks of treatment, and significant subjective improvement in overall neuropathic pain symptoms at 12 weeks. No TENS-related adverse effects were reported, leading to the conclusion that TENS Unit may be an effective and safe treatment for DPN (based on 3 randomized controlled trials involving 78 patients that met inclusion criteria).
Buy your TENS UNIT today to help your Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy