A pilot study of neuromuscular electrical stimulation for neuropathic pain caused by spinal cord injury

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Abstract

This pilot study retrospectively investigated the feasible effect and safety of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) for the management of neuropathic pain (NPP) caused by spinal cord injury (SCI).

A total of 54 patient cases with NPP after SCI were included. Of these, 27 cases underwent carbamazepine plus NMES treatment, and were assigned to an NMES group; while the other 27 cases received carbamazepine only, and were assigned to a control group. The primary outcome of pain intensity was measured by numerical rating scale (NRS). The secondary outcome of quality of life was measured by the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Scale. Furthermore, adverse events were also documented in this study. All outcomes were measured and analyzed before and after 3-month treatment.

After 3-month treatment, the cases in the NMES group neither reduced the pain intensity of NPP, measured by the NRS (P > .05), nor improved the quality of life, measured by the SF-36 (P > .05), compared with cases in the control group. Moreover, both groups had similar adverse events.

The results of this study showed that NMES might be not efficacious for NPP caused by SCI after 3 months treatment with quite low intervention dose.

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