Regenerative medicine has made significant progress in recent years, offering new hope for those suffering from chronic pain. Chronic pain affects a large portion of the population in the United States, contributing to the opioid epidemic and causing widespread disability, poverty, and homelessness. As such, it is crucial to explore potential treatments for chronic pain and address this pressing issue.
One promising avenue is electrotherapy, also known as electroanalgesia. This technique involves using electrical impulses to target specific nerve endings involved in pain reception. Electrotherapy has a long history, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. In a recent review published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Thomas J Smith and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine examined two forms of electrotherapy: TENS therapy and scrambler therapy.
TENS therapy, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, involves applying electrical stimulation to the skin through targeted patches. The aim is to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Scrambler therapy takes a different approach by delivering electrical impulses that transmit artificial signals to the brain. These synthetic signals disrupt the processing of real pain signals, reducing pain perception.
According to studies reviewed by Smith and colleagues, scrambler therapy has shown better outcomes than TENS therapy, with an 80-90% effectiveness in reducing chronic pain symptoms. Scrambler therapy not only provides immediate pain relief but also has long-lasting effects that can persist for months or even years after treatment. In contrast, TENS therapy requires continuous treatment for ongoing pain relief.
While scrambler therapy is more effective, it is also more expensive and less accessible. A scrambler device can cost upwards of $65,000 and must be administered by a professional. On the other hand, TENS therapy is self-administered and affordable, with devices costing as low as $20. This makes TENS therapy a more immediate and practical solution for those struggling with chronic pain, especially those who are impoverished and have limited access to healthcare.
However, it is important to continue developing and improving the scrambler system to make it more affordable and accessible to a wider population. If the cost of the device can be reduced and the treatment can be self-administered like TENS therapy, the long-term benefits of relieving millions from chronic pain would be substantial.
In conclusion, electrotherapy shows promise as a potential treatment for chronic pain. TENS therapy offers a more immediate and affordable solution, while scrambler therapy provides better outcomes but is currently less accessible. By prioritizing both treatments and working towards making the scrambler system more affordable, we can address the pressing issue of chronic pain in the United States and improve the lives of millions of individuals.