Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS)
DESCRIPTIONTranscutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) is an electronic device that applies electrical stimulation to the surface of the skin at the site of pain and has been used to relieve chronic intractable pain, post-surgical pain, and pain associated with active or post-trauma injury unresponsive to other standard pain therapies. TENS has also been used to treat dementia by altering neurotransmitter activity and increasing brain activity that is thought to reduce neural degeneration and stimulate regenerative processes.
TENS consist of an electrical pulse generator, usually battery operated, connected by wire to two or more electrodes, which are applied to the surface of the skin at the site of the pain.
Sympathetic therapy describes a type of electrical stimulation of the peripheral nerves that is designed to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system in an effort to "normalize" the autonomic nervous system and alleviate chronic pain. Unlike TENS or inferential electrical stimulation, sympathetic therapy is not designed to treat local pain, but is designed to induce a systemic effect on sympathetically induced pain.
POLICYTranscutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is considered medically necessary for chronic intractable back pain (lumbar, cervical, or thoracic), where other modalities have failed.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is considered investigational for the management of chronic intractable or acute postoperative pain.
The use of TENS to relieve pain of labor and vaginal delivery is considered investigational.
The use of TENS for any other condition, including but not limited to the treatment of dementia and prevention of migraine headaches, is considered investigational.
Sympathetic Therapy, which is delivered using the Dynatron STS and Dynatron STS Rx device, is considered investigational.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFor FEP subscribers, continued use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be considered medically necessary for treatment of refractory chronic pain (e.g., chronic musculoskeletal or neuropathic pain) that causes significant disruption of function when efficacy has been demonstrated in an initial therapeutic trial and compliance has been demonstrated in the therapeutic trial with the device used on a regular basis (e.g., daily or near daily use) throughout the trial period. Refractory chronic pain is defined in this policy as pain that causes significant disruption of function and has not responded to at least 3 months of conservative therapy, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, ice, rest, and/or physical therapy.
Federal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
Investigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY8/2001: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), Code Reference section completed, CPT code 64550 added, ICD-9 procedure code 93.39 added, HCPCS E0720-E0749, K0118 added
2/11/2002: Investigational definition added
2/25/2002: Sources, Code Reference, and Place of Service sections updated, non-covered table added Code Reference section, CPT code 97014, 97032 with notes: “This is non-covered when used to bill for sympathetic therapy.” and “When sympathetic therapy is administered in the physician's office, CPT code 97014 or 97032 may be used, which describes unattended and attended electrical stimulation therapy, respectively. These CPT codes are not specific for sympathetic therapy, and thus when offered in the office or clinic, based on CPT code alone, sympathetic therapy cannot be distinguished from other types of electrical stimulation” added non-covered codes, HCPCS A9900 with note “There is no HCPCS code that explicitly describes sympathetic therapy. HCPCS A9900 is non-covered when used to bill for sympathetic therapy” added non-covered codes, HCPCS E1399 with notes “There is no HCPCS code that explicitly describes sympathetic therapy. The appropriate code to report this service is E1399.” and “E0730 is sometimes used to report sympathetic therapy. E0730 is non-covered when used to bill for sympathetic therapy” added non-covered codes
5/8/2002: Type of Service and Place of Service deleted
5/29/2002: Code Reference section updated, ICD-9 diagnosis code 724.8 added covered codes, HCPCS A4595, A4630 added covered codes, HCPCS K0118 and E0749 deleted covered codes
3/31/2005: Reviewed by MPAC, clarification of back pain to include lumbar, cervical, or thoracic, Sources updated
6/6/2005: Hyperlink Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) added Description section, Code Reference section updated, ICD-9 procedure code 93.39 deleted, ICD-9 diagnosis code 720.0, 720.1, 720.2, 720.81, 720.89, 720.9, 721.0, 721.1, 721.2, 721.3, 721.4, 721.42, 721.5, 721.6, 721.7, 721.8, 721.90, 721.91, 722.0, 722.10, 722.11, 722.2, 722.30, 722.31, 722.32, 722.39, 722.4, 722.51, 722.52, 722.6, 722.70, 722.71, 722.72, 722.73, 722.80, 722.81, 722.82, 722.83, 722.90, 722.91, 722.92, 722.93, 723.0, 723.1, 723.2, 723.3, 723.4, 723.5, 723.6, 723.7, 723.8, 723.9, 724.00, 724.01, 724.02, 724.09, 724.1, 724.2, 724.3, 724.4, 724.5, 724.9 added covered codes, HCPCS code E0740, E0744, E0745, E0746, E0747, E0748 deleted covered codes, CPT code 97014, 97032 deleted non-covered codes, CPT code 97799 with note: “When sympathetic therapy is administered in the physician’s office, CPT code 97014 or 97032 may be used, which describes unattended and attended electrical stimulation therapy, respectively. These CPT codes are not specific for sympathetic therapy, and thus should not be used to report this service. Code 97799 is the appropriate code to use to report this service.” added, HCPCS E1399 note “E0730 is sometimes used to report sympathetic therapy. E0730 is non-covered when used to bill for sympathetic therapy (added 2-25-2002)” deleted non-covered codes
3/15/2006: Coding updated: HCPCS 2006 revisions added to policy
4/11/2006: Policy reviewed, no changes
9/20/2006: Coding updated. HCPCS 2006 revisions added to policy
12/21/2006: Policy reviewed, sympathetic therapy description added, policy unchanged
3/28/2007: Policy reviewed, dementia description and policy statement added
12/30/2010: Policy statement and description unchanged. Policy Exception section updated regarding coverage for FEP subcribers.
11/10/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
05/07/2012: Removed outdated reference, www.chronicpainrx.com, from the Sources section.
09/27/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
10/23/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
07/11/2014: Investigational policy statement revised to include prevention of migraine headaches.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 1.01.09
Technology Evaluation and Coverage 1988: p. 316
TEC Assessment 1996: Tab 21
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Durable Medical Equipment Manual
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 1.04.03
Hayes Medical Technology Directory
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.
The code(s) listed below are ONLY medically necessary if the procedure is performed according to the "Policy" section of this document.