Efficacy of microcurrent therapy in the treatment of chronic nonspecific back pain: a pilot study

Clin J Pain. 2009 Jul-Aug;25(6):495-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31819a6f3e.


Objectives: Microcurrent therapy (MCT) is a novel treatment for pain syndromes. The MCT patch is hypothesized to produce stimuli that promote tissue healing by facilitating physiologic currents. Solid evidence from randomized clinical trials is lacking. To evaluate the efficacy of MCT in treating aspecific, chronic low-back pain, we conducted a double-blind, randomized, crossover, pilot trial.

Methods: Ten succeeding patients presenting with nonspecific, chronic low-back pain in our university hospital were included. Patients started with two, 9-day baseline period followed by a 5-day treatment periods. During the treatment periods, either a placebo or MCT (verum) patch was randomly assigned. Mean and worst pain scores were evaluated daily by a visual analog scale (VAS). Furthermore, analgesic use, side effects, and quality of life were assessed after each period. Differences between the last 4 days of a treatment period and the baseline period were calculated. Differences between verum and placebo periods per patient were compared using paired t tests. A 20-mm VAS score reduction was considered clinically relevant.

Results: The VAS score was lower during verum treatment, with a reduction [95% confidence interval (CI] of -0.43 (-1.74; 0.89) in mean and -1.07 (-2.85; 0.71) in worst pain. Analgesic use decreased during verum treatment, except for nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug use, which increased. Quality of life improved during verum treatment. However, note of the findings were statistically significant.

Discussion: A positive trend in MCT use for aspecific, chronic low-back pain is reported. Further investigations are required to evaluate the significance and relevance of this.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chronic Disease
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal