Effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Hyperalgesia and Pain – Current Rheumatology Reports, Dec 2008

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a nonpharmacologic treatment for pain relief. TENS has been used to treat a variety of painful conditions.

This review updates the basic and clinical science regarding the use of TENS that has been published in the past 3 years (ie, 2005-2008).

• Basic science studies using animal models of inflammation show changes in the peripheral nervous system, as well as in the spinal cord and descending inhibitory pathways, in response to TENS.

• Translational studies show mechanisms to prevent analgesic tolerance to repeated application of TENS.

• This review also highlights data from recent randomized, placebo-controlled trials and current systematic reviews. Clinical trials suggest that adequate dosing, particularly intensity, is critical to obtaining pain relief with TENS.

• Thus, evidence continues to emerge from both basic science and clinical trials supporting the use of TENS for the treatment of a variety of painful conditions while identifying strategies to increase TENS effectiveness.

Source: Current Rheumatology Reports 2008, 10:492-499. PMID: 19007541, by DeSantana JM, Walsh DM, Vance C, Rakel BA, Sluka KA. Department of Physical Therapy, Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil. [E-mail: josimelo@infonet.com.br]

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