PENS As An Alternative to Medication
PENS, which stands for Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is potentially a ground breaking advance in the treatment of peripheral nerve pain, because it is a method of treating pain in an effective way but without the use of strong medication or invasive surgery.
PENS is actually a fusion of the benefits of TENS, which is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, with electro-acupuncture. In essence it harnesses the benefits of both into a very effective way of treating pain.
TENS is a more familiar treatment, whereby electrical impulses, without needles are passed through the skin to treat the nerve endings and stop them from feeling pain. PENS is slightly different in the sense that the electrical impulses are delivered through the skin.
Small needles, akin to those which are utilised within an acupuncture session, are placed in the area from where the pain originates. The electrical impulses are then delivered directly to the nerve endings, as opposed to being made through the skin, which results in a more effective means of pain management than TENS alone.
PENS can be used specifically to treat peripheral neuropathic pain, but there are some people who may especially benefit from PENS being the treatment option used to treat their condition.
Medication Is Not Always The Best Option
Due to the fact that neuropathy is quite a difficult condition to treat, the ‘basic’ painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc may not be effective and will fail to ameliorate the pain. As such the use of stronger painkillers may well be prescribed, these include tricyclic antidepressants or even medications that are used to prevent seizures and control epilepsy. Opiate based medication can also be used, when other treatments have found to be ineffective.
These types of medication can be very effective in terms of treating the pain. They are extremely potent and so, in purely clinical terms, they can be viewed as positive outcomes, since the pain is reduced.
However, the efficacy and potency of these drugs is, to a large extent, a double edged sword. The strength of the medication means that they do tend to carry the risk of side effects. These vary according to the medication being used, but some of the side effects can have a debilitating effect on patients’ lives.
These can vary, but some people find that they experience several side effects, from drowsiness to a dry mouth etc. So although the pain is eased, life still feels less than satisfactory.
Side Effects Can Be Cumulative
One interesting aspect to side effects, is that they can be cumulative. So having a dry mouth, or feeling drowsy, or being constipated and so on can, individually, not be too difficult to be bear. But if a patient experiences all these different symptoms at the same time, it can feel that there is no bearable option to being in pain. PENS can exact pain relief with no side effects.
Long Term Use Of Opiates
For many people who are prescribed opiate based medication, there may be no other option available. However, the long term use of opiates is not ideal, due to building up a tolerance to the medication, resulting in ever increasing doses being required. There may also be an issue about becoming dependent on the opiate based medication.
Again, PENS can achieve excellent results, without any of the potential drawbacks of opiates. So for anyone with peripheral neuropathic pain, for whom medication isn’t ‘working’ or who may have concerns about taking very potent medication over a long time, PENS is certainly a viable option.