BACKGROUND: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation has proven to be effective in alleviating chronic pain from facial myalgias. We evaluated the efficacy of a novel handheld microcurrent-emitting device in short-term, office-based treatment of patients with sinus pain. This device, which is not yet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared, detects and treats regions corresponding to nerve fibers.METHODS: Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Seventy-one participants with facial pain attributed to self-reported nasal/sinus disease were recruited from a tertiary rhinologic practice and the surrounding community and randomly assigned to either office-based use of an active (n = 38) or placebo (n = 33) microcurrent emitter. The study device was repetitively applied by each patient to the bilateral periorbital areas for 5 minutes. A visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain severity was administered before, and 10 minutes after, treatment.RESULTS: Active microcurrent-treated patients had a reduction in mean pain score from 5.63 pretreatment to 3.97 posttreatment (mean difference, 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20 to 2.12). Patients using the sham device also reported sinus pain reductions (mean difference, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.21). However, the active device demonstrated a significantly greater reduction in pain compared to sham (0.75-point difference, p = 0.007). Notably, 23.7% of patients using the active device had a reduction of 3 or more points by VAS compared to 0% of sham device patients (p = 0.003). One minor occurrence of transient facial skin erythema was noted.CONCLUSION: This trial suggests that treatment of rhinologic facial pain using this noninvasive microcurrent device is safe and effective in providing rapid relief of nasal/sinus pain. Additional studies with longer term follow-up are warranted.
View details for PubMedID 30667597