Lundeberg TC, Eriksson SV, Malm M. Electrical nerve stimulation improves healing of diabetic ulcers. Ann Plastic Surg 1998;29:328-31.
A controlled study of the effects of electrical nerve stimulation (ENS) was performed in conjunction with a standard treatment for healing chronic diabetic ulcers on 64 patients divided randomly into two groups. All patients received standard treatment (paste-impregnated bandage and a self-adhesive elastic bandage) plus placebo ENS or ENS (alternating constant current; frequency, 80 Hz; pulse width, 1 msec; intensity-evoking strong paresthesias) for 20 minutes twice daily for 12 weeks. Comparison of percentages of healed ulcer area and the number of healed ulcers was made after 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks. There were significant differences (p < 0.05) in both ulcer area and healed ulcers in the ENS group compared with the placebo group after 12 weeks of treatment. The results of the present study support the use of ENS in diabetic ulcers. ENS is easy to apply and can be used by the patient at home following instructions from a medical doctor or a therapist experienced in electrical stimulation and the treatment of ulcers. Additional studies are needed to identify the mechanisms involved in the promotion of ulcer healing with electrical stimulation and to determine the stimulus variables that most efficaciously accelerate tissue repair.