Electrical Treatment of Severe Head and Neck Cancer Pain 2016-05-23T14:19:13+00:00

Bauer, William. Electrical Treatment of Severe Head and Neck Cancer Pain. Archives of Otolaryngology, 109(6):382-383, 1983. Download Article

This is an early report of AlphaStim results on severe intractable cancer pain that failed to achieve relief with “heavy medication” and surgery conducted by the Division of Otolaryngology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The author states that the 3 cases anecdotally presented are representative of similar cases treated by Alpha-Stim. Without exception, in every case there was a positive effect in decreasing pain. Objectively, these patients could be followed up by the amount of pain medication they required.

In case 1, a 58 year old man had squamous cell carcinoma of the laryngeopharynx staged at T4N2M0, full course radiation therapy and radical neck dissection. After failing to achieve pain relief with 7 mg of morphine sulfate every 4 hours along with various sedatives, he achieved complete relief without medication at all for one week following 3 daily, 10 minute Alpha-Stim treatments of 500 A at 0.5 Hz, and then was maintained pain free with Alpha-Stim treatments every 3 days for 1 minute. Case 2, a 54 year old man who also had a neck dissection and radiation for a T3N0M0 lesion of the larynx, and a primary squamous cell tumor of the left lung, required a combination of codeine, zomepirac sodium (Zomax), and amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil), which provided little relief. After 6 minutes of Alpha-Stim treatment he had complete relief of pain for 50 hours, after which further treatment caused the pain to disappear again. Case 3 was a 59 year old man who had a T4N1M0 squamous cell carcinoma of the base of the tongue and supraglottis. Codeine and meperidine failed to completely control his severe pain radiating to both ears. The pain was completely relieved for 8 hours after 12 minutes of Alpha-Stim treatment. The second treatment lasted 24 hours.

The author noted that the longevity of the results was especially encouraging. In every case pain relief lasted at least 8 hours, and in case 2, the effect lasted more than 3 weeks. There was no indication of side effects, and usually there was no sensation of the electrical stimulus. The positive results are unquestionable, and this form of electrical stimulation should not be confused with [other forms of] TENS.

Note: This is often reprinted by Alpha-Stim competitors to sell other “microcurrent” devices, but Dr. Bauer reported on his findings with Alpha-Stim technology only.

Graph of two Studies (also see Boswell, 1989)


The graph shows that the three patients in the first study, who were being treated specifically for pain, lost all pain sensation following 10, 6 and 12 minutes respectively with the probes. The fourth patient (from Boswell, 1989) was not being treated specifically for pain, but found the pain in total remission after an average of 15 minutes of probe stimulation to the radiated area.