Which bioenergy therapies are common in Western medicine?
When working with bioenergies, Western medicine generally applies external energy sources to patients to enact a change, the most common forms being electrical or thermal. The application of heat via thermal therapy or cold via cryotherapy is very popular in spite of a lack of evidence in the literature to support their use. One therapy that has seen growing popularity is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which is similar to electroacupuncture in that it utilizes electricity towards a therapeutic end. A 2016 analysis of nine studies on TENS for lower back pain found patients saw improvements in VAS scores, with a standardized mean difference of 0.844 between pre- and posttreatment testing. Another study on complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) showed that TENS, when added to physical therapy, significantly improved the recovery in CRPS, with improvements noted in spontaneous and neuropathic pain scores. Additionally, the application of ultrasound for therapeutic purposes is being researched as a noninvasive energy delivery mechanism for pain treatment, is seeing positive results for both improving pain and function of osteoarthritis in knees, and has phase 1 trials studying its potential for use with Parkinson’s disease and other chronic pain conditions.