The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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  • Recent Comments

    Is TENS better than placebo for chronic low back pain?

     Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been used for more than 3 decades to improve the drug treatment of pain.

    Reviewers from the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada evaluated the evidence in treating low back pain for a Cochrane report.

    First, the details.

    • 4 high-quality studies in 585 patients met the selection criteria.
    • Differences in the studies made it impossible to combine results for a meta-analysis.

    And, the results.

    • There was conflicting evidence about the value of TENS to reduce back pain intensity.
    • 2 studies (410 patients) concluded TENS did not improve functional status.
    • Work status and the use of medical services did not change with TENS.
    • There was a lack of statistically significant improvement in physical outcomes vs placebo.
    • Patients treated with acupuncture-like TENS responded similarly to those getting conventional TENS.
    • Optimal treatment schedules could not be determined based on the evidence.
    • Adverse effects included minor skin irritation at the site of electrode placement.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Evidence from the small number of placebo-controlled trials does not support the use of TENS in the routine management of chronic low back pain.”

    If you’re interested, eMedicine has a general overview of TENS for various conditions.

    10/13/08 16:28 JR

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