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J Athl Train. 1999 Oct;34(4):334-7.

Effect of microcurrent stimulation on delayed-onset muscle soreness: a double-blind comparison.

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Purdue University, Lafayette, IN.



To examine the efficacy of microcurrent electrical neuromuscular stimulation (MENS) treatment on pain and loss of range of motion (ROM) associated with delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).


We assigned subjects to 1 of 2 groups. Group 1 received treatment with microcurrent stimulation (200 muA, 30 Hz, for 10 minutes, then 100 muA, 0.3 Hz, for 10 minutes) 24, 48, and 72 hours after DOMS induction. Group 2 served as a sham group and was treated using a machine altered by the manufacturer so that no current could flow through the electrodes.


DOMS was induced in the biceps brachii of the nondominant arm of 18 subjects (3 males, 15 females: age = 20.33 +/- 2.3 years, ht = 170.81 +/- 7.3 cm, wt = 69.61 +/- 13.1 kg). Dominance was defined as the arm used by the subject to throw a ball.


Subjective pain and active elbow extension ROM were evaluated before and after treatment each day. Two methods were used to assess pain: constant pressure using a weighted Orthoplast sphere and full elbow extension to the limit of pain tolerance. Subjective pain was measured with a graphic rating scale and active elbow extension ROM using a standard, plastic, double-armed goniometer. Three repeated-measures ANOVAs (between-subjects variable was group, within- subjects variables were day and test) were used to assess ROM and pain scores for the 2 groups.


We found no significant difference in the measurement of subjective pain scores or elbow extension ROM when the MENS group was compared with the sham group.


Our results indicate that the MENS treatment, within the parameters used for this experiment, was not effective in reducing the pain or loss of ROM associated with delayed-onset muscle soreness.


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