Digital Health

iTENS – In Pursuit of a Digital Solution to Both Sides of Pain?

Dozie Ezerioha, MD
By Dozie Ezerioha, MD
Feb 1, 2019

Despite being uncomfortable, the sensation of pain also alerts our body to danger. If you unintentionally touched a hot object, the pain receptors at the point of contact cause rapid retraction of your hands to prevent burns. However, this same sensation can be the manifestation of a serious problem in the nervous system. Minor pain can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen, but severe pain may require intake of a much stronger class of analgesics called opioids, which have the potential for abuse.

With the current opioid crisis in the U.S, many are looking elsewhere for pain treatment that works, is safe, affordable and easily accessible. One such option available to your doctor is a different form of pain management which involves stimulating the nerves that generate pain signals with electrodes. This type of therapy is called transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS). iTENS is an FDA approved, modern day electrotherapy device that merges technology with proven results of TENS therapy to provide effective pain relief through an SAMD (software as medical device) app.

Pain comes in different flavors, with sharp and dull the obvious polar opposites. Among the most frequent pain manifestations, unrelenting low back pain, as well as pain in your legs and arms due to diabetes are quite common. The technology behind TENS and now iTENs has been around for decades but has not been adapted to treat the different types of pain.

While TENS has been shown to be effective for treating pain resulting from poorly-managed for diabetes, otherwise known as diabetic neuropathy*, it has not been demonstrated to be effective for treating chronic low back pain* (>12 weeks). The key question would be whether this therapy can be adapted for other types of pain and other neurologic conditions. Having a portable, easily-accessible device synced to your phone certainly makes it easier to conduct clinical trials as improvements are made on this treatment modality.

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Dozie Ezerioha, MD
written by
Dozie Ezerioha, MD
Physician, innovator, industry analyst & entrepreneur, Dozie is an accomplished healthcare executive focused on improving physician adoption of health technology. Likes to think he can code.