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Low-Level Brain Stimulation Repeatedly Proven Effective for Fibromyalgia

  [ 80 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ] • March 7, 2002

A prescription brain stimulator is managing the severe chronic pain of fibromyalgia without the side effects of drugs. A study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology found that a very low current electromedical device applied to the brain via ear clip electrodes eased the pain of fibromyalgia, a diffuse musculoskeletal pain syndrome characterized by multiple tender points accompanied by fatigue and insomnia.

The principal investigator, Alan S. Lichtbroun, M.D., a board-certified rheumatologist in New Jersey, found the device, called the Alpha-Stim 100, was as effective as prescription drugs in relieving pain, but completely safe. Drugs used in the treatment of fibromyalgia cause side effects in many of the patients who use them.

Electromedical current from the Alpha-Stim is normally very low, but for the study it was set even lower, to only 100 microamperes, which is below the level where people can feel it. Treatment was given one hour daily for three weeks. A matched group of fibromyalgia sufferers underwent the same procedure without any current. They had no effect from the sham treatment, proving it was the stimulation that worked, not just belief in the procedure. After the study the patients who did not receive actual treatment were treated by the device in the normal way, where they could set the current higher and use the device longer. They then had slightly better results than the experimental treatment group.

The study also found that while 60% of the patients rated their sleep as poor entering the study, only 5% continued to have problems sleeping after the three weeks of treatment. Feelings of well-being and quality of life measures also improved substantially.

The Alpha-Stim is called a cranial electrotherapy stimulator, or CES for short. It uses up to 600 microamperes. typically applied for 20 minutes to an hour every other day. That is about 11,000 times less current than needed to light a typical 60 watt, light bulb. It was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia, but physicians are also prescribing it to treat severe forms of chronic pain, since pain is processed and felt in the nervous system, which is controlled by the brain.

The device is made by Electromedical Products International, Inc. located in Mineral Wells, Texas. A spokesperson for the manufacturer said they are having more research published this year than any other time in the company's 20 year history. Another recent peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Pain Management documented treatment outcomes of 2,500 patients.

Of those there were 363 fibromyalgia patients, 91% of whom reported significant improvement in their condition. These patients all used the Alpha-Stim for at least 3 weeks, according to the author, Ray B. Smith, PhD, MPA. Similar results were reported for other pains, including migraine and other headaches, backache, and neck pain.

Dr. Steve Tyers, a chiropractor, has already confirmed the Lichtboroun fibromyalgia study at Integrated Medical Centers of California. He used a similar protocol with the Alpha-Stim device but added chiropractic treatment, which improved the results further. That study was published in The American Chiropractor. More information about the technology, including abstracts of around 40 additional scientific studies and hundreds of testimonials can be found on the company's website: The Alpha-Stim SCS unit and supplies are available at

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Article Comments Post a Comment

alpha stim has made my quality of life very poor!
Posted by: alphastim
Apr 29, 2012
I used it in 2010 3 times at the recommended levelfor insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Spoke to manufacturer and they very angrily insisted that the device could NOT have caused my current situation. 10 doctors and 9 specialists looked at me as if I had 2 heads and/or provided me with some other lame diagnoses. I'm a walking enigma!! I'm currently trying a new type of treatment that requires a lot of physical work on my part and many visits to work on it. Please be real careful before you even consider this device!!

After almost 2 years of this hell and being tested to "death" I wish I had never listened to the physician who recommended it!

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