In the past five years, we’ve observed a variety of neurostimulation applications to reduce pain. We’ve written about neurostimulation used with patients with migraine, depression, diabetic nerve damage detection, back pain, opioid withdrawal, and more. The latest development is neurostim to help mitigate pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adolescents.

Last week the FDA announced it granted permission to Innovative Health Solutions’ to market IB-STIM to reduce functional abdominal pain in patients 11 to 18 years old who have IBS when a medical professional prescribes IB-STIM with other IBS treatments. Placed behind the patient’s ear, the IB-Stim device sends low-frequency pulses that stimulate specific cranial nerves for five days. The single-use IB-Stim must be replaced when five days are up and the battery runs out. Physicians can prescribe IB-Stim for up to three consecutive weeks.

The FDA approved IB-Stim via de novo premarket review based on a 2017 clinical study published in The Lancet of 50 patients with IBS, 27 who used the IB-Stim and 23 who used a placebo. The both groups were treated with standard doses of chronic abdominal pain medication during the study. Analysis of the testing found the IB-Stim group had significantly lower levels of both usual pain and worst pain than the placebo group.

As in other applications, neurostimulation to treat pain with adolescents with IBS does not cure the underlying condition, but it can support other treatments by assisting with patient compliance. Even when used in conjunction with pharmaceutical pain killers, if neurostim enables patients to get through the prescribed time period taking fewer or less potent medication, then that’s a win.