Refractory chronic pelvic pain syndrome in men: can transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation help?

This study sought to evaluate the effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for the treatment of men with refractory chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). A consecutive series of 60 men treated with TENS for refractory CPPS was evaluated prospectively at an academic tertiary referral centre. The effects of treatment were evaluated by a pain diary and by the quality of life item of the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index at baseline, after 12 weeks of TENS treatment, and at last known follow-up. Adverse events related to TENS were also assessed. The mean (95% confidence interval, CI; range) age of the 60 men was 46.9 (43.5-50.3; 21-82) years. TENS was successful after 12 weeks of treatment in 29 (48%) patients and a positive effect was sustained during a mean (95%, CI; range) follow-up of 43.6 (33.2-56; 6-88) months in 21 patients. Following 12 weeks of TENS treatment, mean (95% CI) pain visual analogue scale decreased significantly (P < 0.001) from 6.6 (6.3-6.9) to 3.9 (3.2-4.6). Patients' quality of life changed significantly after TENS treatment (P < 0.001). Before TENS, all 60 patients felt mainly dissatisfied (n = 17; 28%), unhappy (n = 28; 47%) or terrible (n = 15; 25%). After 12 weeks of TENS treatment, 29 (48%) patients felt mostly satisfied (n = 5), pleased (n = 18) or delighted (n = 6). No adverse events related to TENS were noted.

The study found that TENS could be an effective and safe treatment for refractory CPPS in men, justifying randomized, placebo-controlled trials.