Evaluating the analgesic effect and advantage of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation combined with opioid drugs for moderate to severe cancer-related pain: a study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.
BACKGROUND : Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS), which is also known as acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), has been widely used in acute or chronic pain. However, previous research has not demonstrated that TEAS is effective for cancer-related pain. Opioid drugs are strongly recommended for treating cancer-related pain, but opioid-induced immunosuppression is still the most intractable drug-induced medical problem. Evaluating the efficacy and potential advantage of TEAS combined with opioid drugs in moderate and severe cancer-related pain in China is important because such studies are lacking. METHODS : This trial is a multicenter, prospective randomized controlled clinical trial. In total, 160 patients who were enrolled from two hospitals in the Zhejiang Province (China) will be randomly allocated into two groups: a TEAS group and sham TEAS group without acupoint electrical stimulation. Both groups will receive a 21-day interval of chemotherapy and conventional cancer pain therapy. Fifteen treatment sessions will be performed over a three-week period. The primary outcomes will be measured by changes in the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) scores and equivalent dosage of morphine at baseline, three weeks of treatment and one two-week follow-up. The secondary outcome measures include cellular immunity function, life quality assessment, opioids side effects assessment, and safety and compliance evaluation. CONCLUSIONS : This trial is expected to clarify whether TEAS is effective for cancer-related pain. These results demonstrate the advantage of TEAS combined with opioid drugs on improving immune function and decreasing opioid induced side effects. BACKGROUND : Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, ChiCTR-13003803 . Registered on 27 August 2013.