PENS And TENS Procedures: Effectiveness And Uses
PENS, which is actually Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is not a procedure that is currently well known. Some people may have heard of TENS as a procedure, which is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, which to some extent is the forefather of PENS. TENS can either be administered by a pain consultant, or TENS pain ‘pens’ (a less powerful version of TENS) can be bought for home use.
PENS is, however, generally regarded as a more effective procedure than TENS because whereas the TENS procedure is administered to the surface of the skin, PENS is administered to the actual vicinity of the nerve endings.
In a sense, or in layman’s terms, the PENS procedure is akin to acupuncture that is combined with electrical stimulation. When a TENS application is administered, the electrodes do not go through the skin, whereas with the PENS application they do.
This fundamental difference in the two applications is actually quite an important one, because PENS can directly target the nerve endings that are causing pain. When a TENS procedure is used, the skin can often act as a barrier and some of the electrical stimulation is lost through the skin’s natural defences, so a PENS system can get straight to the root of the problem and none of the potency of the electrodes is lost.
Efficacy of PENS
A study done on 60 patients, some of whom had a PENS procedure, others a TENS procedure and some a treatment that was in fact a placebo, found that the results from the patients who had experienced the PENS procedure were much more positive than for other groups and indeed the outcomes were so positive that even those who had not received the PENS procedure, wanted it after they saw the benefits that it had brought to those who had undergone PENS. Indeed, some 91% of the participants in the study felt that PENS was the procedure that would elicit the best outcomes for their pain management.
Other studies and clinical experience shows that most people who have received PENS for chronic neuropathic pain, will quickly find that their pain levels are significantly decreased.
However, there are other advantages to PENS. It is particularly effective in reducing pain levels to enable patients to sleep better and to regain greater mobility. This can result in their being able to undertake physiotherapy or exercises to help solve the problem that has resulted in neuropathic pain being experienced.
Use of analgesics and painkillers is also greatly reduced for patients who have undergone PENS, which also helps people feel more positive about how their pain is managed.
TENS can however, be beneficial if patients have some kind of skin problem/infection which means that needles should not be used. It can also be used for patients who are phobic about needles.
PENS can be used whenever there is neuropathic pain and it seems particularly effective in dealing with lower back pain, particularly pain that is difficult to treat. Although several applications may be required, it does have fast and very positive results for patients who may have tried all kinds of solutions to their pain problems, only to find that they are not effective.