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Electrical Stimulation for the Treatment of Arthritis

» Summary» Procedure Codes
» Description» Selected References
» Prior Approval» Policy History
» Policy

Medical Policy: 01.01.24 
Original Effective Date: November 2000 
Reviewed: November 2014 
Revised: November 2014 

Benefit Application
Benefit determinations are based on the applicable contract language in effect at the time the services were rendered. Exclusions, limitations or exceptions may apply. Benefits may vary based on contract, and individual member benefits must be verified. Wellmark determines medical necessity only if the benefit exists and no contract exclusions are applicable. This medical policy may not apply to FEP. Benefits are determined by the Federal Employee Program.

This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.


Pulsed electrical stimulation (PES) (also referred to as transcutaneous electrical joint stimulation) is the application of a signal specific electrical current (at low amplitude and low frequency) to joint tissue to relieve the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of the hand. 


Regulatory Status
The original Bio-1000 device was first approved for marketing in 2003. The signal was delivered via electrodes and gel and held on the leg with a wrap. The current system delivers the same patented signal but adds the benefit of the OActiveTM osteoarthritis knee brace to apply the device to the leg. The OActive knee brace reduces pain with activity via an unloading mechanism.


The original device is no longer available.

The BioniCare system is contraindicated in patients with demand-type pacemakers and may interfere with other electronic devices.


Prior Approval: 

Not applicable



Pulsed electrical stimulation (PES) (also referred to as transcutaneous electrical joint stimulation) is considered not medically necessary for the treatment of osteoarthritis and all other indications because their effectiveness has not been established.


Based on peer reviewed literature there is insufficient evidence to indicate the effectiveness of pulsed electrical stimulation (PES) (also referred to as transcutaneous electrical joint stimulation) to improve health outcomes and therefore, is considered not medically necessary


Procedure Codes and Billing Guidelines: 

  • To report provider services, use appropriate CPT* codes, Alpha Numeric (HCPCS level 2) codes, Revenue codes, and/or diagnosis codes.
  • E0762 Transcutaneous electrical joint stimulation device system, includes all accessories


Selected References: 

Wellmark's policy is based on:

  • Farr j Mont m Farland D et al; Pulsed Electrical Stimulation in patients with osteoarthritis. Surg Tech Internatl 2006; 15: 227-33.
  • Bionocare.
  • American College of Rheumatology 2012 Recommendations for the Use of Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Therapties in Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip and Knee. Marc C. Hochberg, Roy D. Altman, Karine Toupin April, Maria Benkhalti, Gordon Guyatt, Jessie McGowan, Tanveer Towheed, Vivian Welch, George Wells, and Peter Tugwell. Arthritis Care and Research, Vol. 64, No. 4, April 2012, pp 465-474. DOI 10.1002/acr.21596.
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee, Summary of Recommendations.
  • ECRI Institute. Pulsed Electrical Stimulation for Knee Osteoarthritis. Published 5/19/2011.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Physical Therapy Interventions for Knee Pain Secondary to Osteoarthritis.
  • UpToDate. Nonpharamcologic Therapy for Osteoarthritis. Kenneth C. Kalunian, M.D..
  • UpToDate. Nonpharmacologic and Preventative Therapies of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Peter H. Schur M.D., Allan Gibofsky, M.D..


Policy History: 

Date                                    Reason                             Action
October 2010                    Annual review                     Policy renewed
February 2011                   Interim review                     Policy revised
January 2012                     Annual review                     Policy renewed
January 2013                     Annual review                     Policy renewed
January 2014                     Annual review                     Renewed & new policy created

November 2014                  Annual review                     Policy revised


Wellmark medical policies address the complex issue of technology assessment of new and emerging treatments, devices, drugs, etc.   They are developed to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. Wellmark medical policies contain only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and do not constitute a contract. Wellmark does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Wellmark or its affiliates. Treating providers are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members. Our medical policies may be updated and therefore are subject to change without notice.

*Current Procedural Terminology © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

Contact Information
New information or technology that would be relevant for Wellmark to consider when this policy is next reviewed may be submitted to:
  Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  Medical Policy Analyst
  P.O. Box 9232
  Des Moines, IA 50306-9232
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