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The Efficacy of Microcurrent Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation as Compared to Placebo in Reducing Pain Caused by Diabetic Neuropathy: A Systematic Review

9 August 2012


Background: Pain caused by diabetic neuropathy is a common complication in diabetic patients. Microcurrent therapy is currently being used as an alternative treatment option for painful diabetic neuropathy, yet little research has been done to date on the efficacy of this treatment option in randomized controlled trials as compared to placebo. This systematic review was performed because there is no general consensus regarding the efficacy of this appealing treatment option for painful diabetic neuropathy

Method: An exhaustive literature search using Medline, Cinahl, Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews Multifile, and Google Scholar was performed. The following search terms with common synonyms were used: microcurrent and diabetic neuropathy. Only randomized controlled trials were used.

Results: Three articles were found that addressed the question of interest and met all eligibility criteria. Two of the three studies showed that microcurrent therapy and placebo significantly reduced pain but one was not more efficacious than the other. The other study found microcurrent therapy was more efficacious than placebo. All studies received a GRADE quality of evidence rating of low.

Conclusion: At this time there is not enough high quality evidence to say with any certainty that microcurrent therapy is more efficacious than placebo in reducing pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. The three RCTs that have been performed to date, have been small and have conflicting results. The results do indicate a large placebo effect which should not be discounted when considering the utility of microcurrent therapy.


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