RESEARCH ARTICLE


High-Tone External Muscle Stimulation for the Treatment of Chronic Sciatica – A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial



Kerstin Kempf1, #, Martin Röhling1, *, Eslam Darwish2, Stephan Martin1, Sebastian Jander3, Jörg Herdmann2, Susanne Stehr-Zirngibl2
1 West-German Centre of Diabetes and Health, Düsseldorf Catholic Hospital Group, Düsseldorf, Germany
2 St. Vinzenz Krankenhaus, Spine Unit and Center of Pain Management, Düsseldorf, Germany
3 Neurology Department, Heinrich Heine University Hospital, Düsseldorf, Germany


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© 2018 Kempf et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the West-German Centre of Diabetes and Health, Düsseldorf Catholic Hospital Group, Hohensandweg 37, 40591 Düsseldorf, Germany; Tel: +49 (0)211-56 60 360 16; Fax: +49 (0)211-56 60 360 72; E-mail: martin.roehling@vkkd-kliniken.de

# Equal contribution


Abstract

Background:

Chronic sciatica is a common pathology with a lifetime prevalence of 84%. Current therapy options are inadequate or not long-lasting.

Objectives:

Evaluation of short-term application of High-Tone Electrical Muscle Stimulation (HTEMS) compared to Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) with chronic sciatica.

Methods:

Patients (n=100, (mean±SD) age=57±14 years, sex=42% male) with chronic sciatica were randomly assigned into two groups treated with either HTEMS or TENS. Each treatment was administered for a period of 45 min per day, 5 times within 7 days, with a 7-day wash-out period before crossover. A 5-day average of sciatic pain was assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS) before and after intervention. Drug administration was stable during the study.

Results:

Before crossover, pain intensity was significantly reduced by the HTEMS treatment (56±21 (60 [50-70]) to 45±21 (50 [30-60]) mm VAS; p<0.001), while no improvement occurred with TENS (59±19 (60 [50-70]) to 56±19 (60 [45-79]) mm VAS). After crossover, significant pain reduction was observed in both groups (both p <0.01) and did not differ between both groups after the whole intervention.

Conclusion:

HTEMS showed a higher potential for short-term reduction of pain than TENS and might offer new a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of chronic sciatica.

Keywords: Chronic sciatica, HTEMS, TENS, VAS, Drug, Therapeutic.