People with multiple sclerosis who are looking for non-drug approaches to dealing with pain and spasticity of the disease may find some relief from TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). A new review and previous research suggests TENS offers these benefits to patients with MS.
TENS is a treatment approach that sends extremely low levels of electrical currents to the body for the purpose of relieving pain. Two of the benefits of TENS are it can be done safely and easily at home using a small device and there are no drugs involved.
Another advantage of TENS is that it has been shown to provide some relief for both neuropathic (nerve) and nociceptive (musculoskeletal) pain. Neuropathic pain occurs when there is damage to nerve connections within the nervous system, while nociceptive pain is the result of tissue damage. Both types of pain are common among people who have MS.
The explanations as to how and why TENS relieve pain are a bit complicated. You can read about it at the source.
During the four-week study, half of the patients received 10 mg twice daily of baclofen (increasing to 25 mg over three weeks) while the other half used self-applied TENS. At the end of the four weeks, spasticity improved in both groups of patients.
However, although both baclofen and TENS are effective in reducing spasticity related to MS, TENS can provider better results and without the side effects of the drug, which was measured on various "scales."
Please note: Although this study involved a control group, it only involved 59 people which is not considered scientifically valid.
At the end of the study period, both TENS and nortriptyline resulted in similar improvements in pain and spasticity; that is, one method was not significantly better than the other. However, given the side effects associated with the drug (e.g., drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, weight gain, dizziness, taste problems), TENS seems to be safer choice.
If you have MS and have not tried TENS for pain or spasticity, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider. TENS for multiple sclerosis can be done at the doctor’s office, with a physical therapist, or at home with minimal instruction.
Deborah Mitchell at emaxhealth where you will find the sources she used.