Bioelectric Therapy for Pain

Millions of Americans suffer from pain every day. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the annual cost of chronic pain in the United States, including healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity, is estimated to be $100 billion. Whether you are someone who suffers from back pain, fibromyalgia, muscle pain, arthritis, migraines, or another form of chronic pain, you are probably looking for relief. While many people turn to medications to relieve pain, there is another option to consider: bioelectric therapy. 

Bioelectric therapy is a safe, drug-free treatment option for people in pain. It is similar to electrical stimulation therapy, like that which is found in TENS devices. In bioelectric therapy, however, a dose of electric current is applied to the skin to help distract the brain from sensing pain. In other words, it works by using bioelectric currents to interrupt pain signals before they reach the brain. Plus, bioelectric therapy prompts the body to produce mood-enhancing natural chemicals (endorphins), which also help to relieve pain.

When to Use Bioelectric Therapy

Bioelectric therapy has been reported to help the following conditions:

  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Arthritis
  • TMJ

When to Avoid Bioelectric Therapy

Bioelectric therapy is not for everyone. It is not recommended for people who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have a pacemaker
  • Have blood clots in their arms or legs
  • Have a bacterial infection

Side Effects

There may be some skin irritation and redness that can occur under the electrodes.

What to Do

As always, consult with your doctor before trying any new pain relief treatment. The most important thing is to take an active part in your rehabilitation.

Other Non-Pharmaceutical Options

Generally, there is no one solution to pain, but a combination of treatments can help relieve your pain and give you more control of your life. 

Here are some other options to consider.

  • Stress Management. When you are stressed, your experience of pain tends to be worse. In other words, stress is a psychological factor that can intensify the perception of pain. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, massage, yoga, and Tai Chi are great for stress relief, and therefore pain relief.
  • Exercise. Although many people think exercise will increase pain, inactivity can actually make your pain worse. In other words, if you let your body become inactive, you are letting your body degenerate. Regular exercise can keep your muscles and joints flexible and strong. Plus, physical activity promotes the release of mood-enhancing chemicals (endorphin) in the body that can help diminish the perception of pain.
  • Physical Therapy. Physical therapists teach you exercises and pain management skills to help you take care of yourself.
  • Acupuncture. Many people have reported pain relief from acupuncture. Acupuncture helps get your blood flowing to areas that have been stagnant, and as a result this helps your healing process.

The Bottom Line

Bioelectric therapy can be effective in providing temporary pain control, but it should only be a part of a total pain management program. Always consult with your doctor before trying any new pain relief approach.


Haines, Cynthia. (ed). "Pain Management: Bioelectric Therapy." Aug. 2004. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.

"Pain Fact & Figures." American Pain Foundation. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.

Gong, Rose. "Bioelectric Therapy." AccuCare Medical Group. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.