, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 1329-1337
Date: 20 Mar 2007

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Improves Upper GI Symptoms and Balances the Sympathovagal Activity in Scleroderma Patients

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To assess the impact of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) at gastrointestinal (GI) acupoints on GI symptoms and quality of life in scleroderma patients, 17 patients filled out SF-36 and GI symptom questionnaires before the electrocardiogram was recorded for two intervals: baseline and TENS. At home, patients applied TENS for 14 days, then were reassessed.

Acutely, TENS application significantly increased sympathetic and vagal activities vs. baseline (P= 0.02 and P= 0.004), respectively. Prolonged TENS application normalized the sympathovagal balance (P= 0.04), decreased GI symptom scores (P= 0.02) and increased the physical functioning score (SF36), which strongly correlated with the change in the sympathovagal balance (r= 0.6, P= 0.02). In conclusion, TENS at GI acupoints offers a potential option in the treatment of upper GI symptoms, but further study is necessary.