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Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My doctor sent me to a pain clinic for help with my low back pain. I've had it for six years now -- ever since a car accident when I was 20. One of the recommendations of the pain clinic was to try using electrical stimulation. I've heard from other patients that it doesn't work. Is it really worth trying?

For chronic pain patients, anything that provides some relieve from the symptoms is at least worth trying once. Reports about the results of using electrical nerve stimulation (ENS) have varied. Some studies show it works well. Others don't report a favorable response.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted a meta-analysis of ENS. The goal was to see if ENS can be used successfully to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain. A meta-analysis consists of combining and reviewing a large number of studies on the same subject.

Analyzing the data has more meaning when the number of patients included is larger. By combining similar studies, it's possible to increase the statistical power of those studies. In this particular meta-analysis, studies of ENS from the past 30 years were included.

The researchers were careful to look at the many types of statistical tools used to gather data and analyze it. They point out that some studies have inaccuracies because of the way the data is processed. Errors in analysis can occur. The result can be an over- or underestimation of the results.

A meta-analysis can help smooth out the bumps and dips in research that occur from sampling errors and small sample sizes. It can also increase the statistical power of the studies. And in fact, they discovered that patients who had chronic musculoskeletal pain and were treated with ENS were three times more likely to get pain relief compared to those who were in the placebo (control) group.

Not only that, but many patients were able to reduce the amount of pain medication they were taking. You are not likely to get worse while using ENS. And there's a good chance you may even get better. So, it's definitely worth trying.


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