The devastating opioid addiction crisis continues to ruin American lives, including 115 people who die every day after overdosing according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Pharmaceutical companies traditionally seek drug-centric painkillers that also “cure” addiction, a two-century-long history of unrelieved disasters since morphine was marketed in the early 1800s as a cure for opium addiction. Electrostimulation in the form of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a non-pharmaceutical technology used to manage pain. TENS units block the sensation of pain by stimulating the nerve receptors that otherwise send pain signals to the brain. EMS is used to repair muscle tissue. Until recently, most people in the U.S. only experienced electrostimulation during treatment by physical therapists or chiropractors. TENS has begun to appear in mainstream medicine as a substitute for or supplement to opioids prescribed for pain relief. When I had complicated rotator cuff surgery in 2013, for example, I was sent home from the hospital with a battery-powered TENS unit taped to my shoulder. It worked and allowed me to sleep each night for two weeks with minimal pain medication.
BewellConnect recently released a survey which indicates that a strong majority of Americans who have used TENS/EMS therapy to treat pain report great success with the drug-free technology. BewellConnect surveyed more than 1,000 consumers. Of the surveyed individuals, approximately 60% had received treatments for back pain, bad knees, and other injuries with related pain. Of those who received treatment for pain, 47% had experience with TENS or EMS. Drilling down further, BewellConnect reports that almost 90% of those who had been treated for pain with electrostimulation reported the treatments were successful. When queried if and why they would purchase a TENS unit for home care, 32% of the women surveyed and 27% overall stated they would buy a TENS unit to reduce the need for pain meds. A full 35% of the respondents stated they would buy a TENS unit to reduce visits to healthcare providers.
While BewellConnect has a dog in this hunt, the company commissioned this independent study that was conducted by Toluna Research. The survey sample was weighted for demographics including gender, age, and income. These results are encouraging because they signal that the average American consumer is open to pain management solutions that do not involve taking a pill.