Rectal hypersensitivity reduced by acupoint TENS in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot study

Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Feb;49(2):312-9. doi: 10.1023/b:ddas.0000017458.55517.33.


Our aim was to compare rectal perception of patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D), constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), functional constipation (FC), and healthy controls and to evaluate the therapeutic effect of acupoint transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS). Age- and sex-matched patients (24 IBS-D, 20 IBS-C, and 30 FC) were selected, and 30 volunteers served as healthy controls. Rectal sensory thresholds were evaluated by rectal balloon distension. Short- and long-term acupoint TENS was given respectively. IBS-D patients had significantly lower rectal sensory thresholds of the first sensation of stool, urgency of defecation, and pain than IBS-C or FC patients or healthy controls (P < 0.05), but there were no differences in rectal sensory thresholds among IBS-C and FC patients and healthy controls. In each group, females had significantly lower rectal sensory thresholds than males (P < 0.05), but there was no difference between younger (< or = 50 years old) and older (> 50 years old) patients. Short-term acupoint TENS increased rectal sensory thresholds of IBS-D patients. After 2-month acupoint TENS treatment in IBS-D patients, rectal sensory thresholds were significantly increased, stool times and the intensity of abdominal pain were decreased, and psychological scores were relieved to normal. Lowered rectal perception threshold is a hallmark of IBS-D patients. Females have significantly lower rectal sensory thresholds than males. Acupoint TENS is effective to treat IBS-D.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Adult
  • Catheterization
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rectum / physiopathology*
  • Sensory Thresholds*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*