Avera Medical Minute: Alpha-Stim For Pain, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD


Melissa Taggart has found relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and depression by having a weekly treatment, recommended by her healthcare provider. The relief is so helpful, she schedules more activities the day after an Alpha-Stim treatment that normally would be debilitating.

“It gives me about a twenty-four-hour window of pain relief. It doesn’t take it all away, but it gives me a little relief from it,” said Taggart.

Alpha-Stim has been known to help with chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The electrotherapy stimulator can be transmitted through probes, electrodes, and ear clips. Melissa says there is less pain in her back and shoulders. “Every now and then I can feel a little zap from it, but it’s nothing big. It’s like a mosquito bite,” said Taggart.

Avera Certified Nurse Practitioner Meredith Hunhoff says the length of treatment can vary. “There’s an electrical circuit that transmits through the tissues that it is applied to. We do that for approximately five to eight minutes depending on how much pain they have and where the pain is,” said Hunhoff.

Proponents of Alpha-Stim say the treatment is a drug-free alternative to pain management. Hunhoff says about 90 percent of patients report improvement after treatment with the device.

Hunhoff describes how treatment targets anxiety, depression, and PTSD. “The electrical stimulation that stimulates alpha waves in your brain stem that helps balance out your serotonin and your Acetylcholine, the hormones that control your mood and sleep pattern,” said Hunhoff.

It may take a few sessions to know if the treatment will work for you.

“We trial it, and the best-case scenario would be to do two or three treatments before we realize if it’s helpful,” said Hunhoff.

Melissa wishes she could have it every day. “When you can walk out and it doesn’t hurt anymore, it’s wonderful!”

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