Health Problem: Musculoskeletal pain is estimated to affect 13.5% to 47% of the population. Associated symptoms are disruptive; may include local or widespread pain that may worsen with movement; and cause stiffness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

Technology Description: Microcurrent electrical therapy (MET) is a form of electrical stimulation therapy. MET uses current in the microampere range, typically low frequencies, and low-resistance electrodes (probes or self-adhesive electrodes). Probe placement is typically on either side of the affected area.

Controversy: Concerns regarding the opioid epidemic have fueled considerable interest in nonpharmacological strategies for pain management in recent years. Numerous federal regulatory agencies have advised or mandated that nonpharmacologic options for pain be offered by healthcare systems and providers. Controversies specific to MET include optimal treatment protocols, effectiveness, durability of the effect, and patient selection criteria.

Key Questions:

  • Is MET effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain?
  • How does MET compare with usual care?
  • Is MET safe for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been identified for use of MET in patients with musculoskeletal pain?

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