Effectiveness of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for treatment of hyperalgesia and pain

We show that low-frequency Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation activates μ-opioid receptors in the spinal cord and the brainstem, whereas highfrequency TENS activates δ-opioid receptors in the spinal cord and the brainstem

Josimari M. DeSantana; Deirdre M. Walsh; Carol Vance; Barbara A. Rakel; Kathleen A. Sluka


Scholarcy highlights

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a commonly used nonpharmacologic and noninvasive treatment for pain
  • A number of clinical studies show the effectiveness of TENS for pain, there is still much controversy over which conditions to treat with TENS and the adequate parameters to use
  • The purpose of this review is to update the reader on the latest literature concerning TENS: basic science, experimental pain, clinical trials, and systematic reviews
  • These authors compared high- and low-frequency, high- and lowintensity, and segmental versus extrasegmental site of stimulation on pressure pain threshold recorded from the hand. Their analysis found that TENS applied to segmental and extrasegmental sites, at a high intensity using different frequencies at each site, produced the greatest hypoalgesia. These results indicate that the high-intensity currents are the key parameter in TENS applications
  • Basic scientific evidence suggests that there are peripheral and central nervous system mechanisms underlying the analgesic action of TENS
  • Studies show that tolerance to repeated application of TENS can be prevented by multiple strategies, both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic
  • Continued research of Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation mechanisms and stimulation parameters in adequately characterized patient populations is critical

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