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

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was 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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