Scandinavian journal of pain 2017 11 07() pii S1877-8860(17)30217-3
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Chronic scrotal pain is a common yet poorly understood urologic disease. Current treatment paradigms are sub-optimal and include anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids as well as invasive surgical management such as microdenervation of the spermatic cord. In this study, the efficacy of external vibratory stimulation (EVS) was evaluated as an alternative treatment option for idiopathic scrotal pain.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Ten consecutive patients presenting to an academic urology clinic between December 2016 and April 2017 with scrotal pain were prospectively enrolled. After a comprehensive history and physical exam, patients were presented with and oriented to a spherical vibratory device that they were instructed to use topically each day for four weeks. Average and maximum pain severity, frequency, and bother scores were tracked at 2-week intervals using a visual analog scale (0-10) via survey. Descriptive statistics facilitated interpretation of individual changes in pain.
Nine men, with a median age of 46 years, completed at least 2 weeks of the study intervention. 78% (7/9) of men achieved some improvement in daily scrotal pain levels. Overall, average pain decreased from 4.9 to 2.7 (p=0.009) while maximum pain severity decreased from 6.3 to 4.0 (p=0.013). The frequency of pain also decreased for 55.6% (5/9) of men. No severe side effects were noted by any of the participants though several patients reported mild paresthesia only during application of the device. The majority of men expressed interest in continuing treatment after conclusion of the study.
External vibratory stimulation has been suggested as a promising non-invasive tool to alleviate chronic pain. As a proof-of-concept, we implemented EVS to treat men with idiopathic orchialgia. The majority of patients noted benefit in both severity and frequency of pain. Given its low risk profile, EVS deserves further evaluation and inclusion in treatment guidelines as a promising experimental therapy for a disease with few conservative treatment options available to providers.
In this longitudinal study, external vibratory stimulation was found to decrease chronic scrotal pain without any adverse effects. The use of this non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical therapy to treat chronic scrotal pain has the potential to decrease physician and patient dependence on surgical procedures and opioid prescriptions. Future randomized, double blind clinical trials with a placebo arm are required to corroborate these findings and establish the true efficacy of EVS.