Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) improves upper GI symptoms and balances the sympathovagal activity in scleroderma patients

Hanaa Sallam, Terry A. McNearney, Dipti Doshi, J. D Z Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


To assess the impact of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) at gastrointestinal (GI) acupoints on GI symptoms and quality of life in scleroderma patients, 17 patients filled out SF-36 and GI symptom questionnaires before the electrocardiogram was recorded for two intervals: baseline and TENS. At home, patients applied TENS for 14 days, then were reassessed. Acutely, TENS application significantly increased sympathetic and vagal activities vs. baseline (P= 0.02 and P= 0.004), respectively. Prolonged TENS application normalized the sympathovagal balance (P= 0.04), decreased GI symptom scores (P= 0.02) and increased the physical functioning score (SF36), which strongly correlated with the change in the sympathovagal balance (r= 0.6, P= 0.02). In conclusion, TENS at GI acupoints offers a potential option in the treatment of upper GI symptoms, but further study is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1337
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2007



  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Heart rate variability
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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