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Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2011 Sep;31(5):363-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-097X.2011.01025.x. Epub 2011 Apr 18.

Conventional versus acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on cold-induced pain in healthy human participants: effects during stimulation.

Author information

  • 1Centre for Pain Research, Faculty of Health, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK. richard2506@hotmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

  To compare the hypoalgesic effects of conventional transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) (high frequency, low intensity) and acupuncture-like TENS (AL-TENS, low frequency, high intensity) on cold-induced pain.

DESIGN:

Randomized controlled parallel group study comparing the effects of strong non-painful AL-TENS, conventional TENS and placebo (no current) TENS on cold-pressor pain threshold (CPT) and pain intensity. Two baseline (pre-intervention) measures and three during intervention measures of CPT and cold pain intensity (four point category scale) were recorded.

SETTING:

Physiology laboratory in Leeds Metropolitan University.

PARTICIPANTS:

One hundred and twenty-one healthy participants.

INTERVENTIONS:

Each participant received one of three TENS interventions over their flexor digitorum profundus: (i) high pulse rate TENS with a strong non-painful paraesthesia (conventional), (ii) low-rate burst mode TENS that caused strong non-painful phasic muscle twitching (acupuncture like) or (iii) no current (placebo) TENS.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Difference between conventional TENS and AL-TENS in cold pain threshold relative to pre-TENS baseline after 25 min of stimulation.

RESULTS:

No differences were detected for CPT or cold pain intensity during conventional TENS compared with AL-TENS. When compared with placebo TENS, the confidence intervals for the ratio of intervention CPT to baseline CPT, for both AL-TENS (0·966, 1·424) and conventional TENS (0·948, 1·401), were close to the positive side of one, although neither reached statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS:

Unlike some previous studies, the present study detected no differences in hypoalgesia between AL-TENS, conventional TENS and placebo (no current) TENS during stimulation.

© 2011 The Authors. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging © 2011 Scandinavian Society of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine.

PMID:
21771255
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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