PENS: An Overview Of Its Applications
Many people have not yet heard of PENS, because it is a relatively new innovation in pain management techniques. PENS is an acronym which stands for Peripheral Electrical Nerve Stimulator, or sometimes Stimulation.
It has only recently been shown to work effectively in pain management for small test groups of adults, all of whom were experiencing significant levels of peripheral nerve pain.
The results showed that most people had almost instantaneous relief after just one PENS application.
PENS In Action
A qualified pain management specialist can only administer PENS, because it is, in essence, electrical stimulation that is administered through the skin. The electrical stimulation or waveforms that the PENS procedure creates is directly targeted at nervous tissue, resulting in patients finding that their pain levels are significantly reduced, almost instantaneously.
In effect a PENS system actually delivers electrical energy to a nerve and it then stops sending the brain signals that it is experiencing pain. So it is fast and only minimlally invasive.
The use of PENS for patients can really only be considered where there is peripheral nerve pain that is neuropathic in its origin. Patients who are experiencing pain that is not neuropathic are unlikely to benefit from this procedure. It is not, therefore, a widespread panacea for pain.
It may even have other applications and early studies are ongoing as to whether or not PENS can even assist people with Alzheimer’s Disease who may be able to function more effectively after a PENS procedure, although this is still not yet proven.
A Modern Interpretation Of An Ancient Innovation
Although the use of PENS is a recent development, the whole concept of using electrical stimulation to ‘cure’ is not a new concept. Indeed, many of the ‘ancient’ civilisations had already worked out that pain could be eased by electrical stimulation. Even though electricity had not been ‘invented’ many of these civilisations used electric fishes to try and cure headaches or maladies within the head, believing that the albeit limited electricity found in electric fish/eels could cure them.
A PENS system is merely an extension of this concept, although it is technologically and operationally, a millennium away from applying electric eels to patients!
Hidden Benefits to PENS
As medical professionals it is sometimes easy to focus on the outcomes of a specific treatment: the patient was in pain, a procedure was undertaken, the patient experienced significant reduction in pain. This is a positive outcome and one that we are always striving for. We can also be pleased that a minimally invasive procedure was used and that the use of medication was reduced.
However, there are sometimes hidden aspects to the issue of pain that it is easy to ignore. Some patients who have experienced PENS indicate that after their pain levels were reduced they went on to sleep much better. Pain has no respect for time and the difficulty that many patients with neuropathic pain have with sleeping cannot be overemphasised, so increased sleep may not sound revolutionary, but to patients who are not only in pain, but sleep deprived as a result, it is an enormous hidden benefit!