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Int J Neurosci. 2013 Jul;123(7):507-15. doi: 10.3109/00207454.2013.768244. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

Effect of transcutaneous electrical stimulation on nociception and edema induced by peripheral serotonin.

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Post Graduate Program in Sciences of Rehabilitation, Department of Physical Therapy, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is defined as the application of an electrical current to the skin through surface electrodes for pain relief. Various theories have been proposed in order to explain the analgesic mechanism of TENS. Recent studies have demonstrated that part of this analgesia is mediated through neurotransmitters acting at peripheral sites. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of low frequency (LF: 10 HZ) TENS and high frequency (HF: 130 HZ) TENS on hyperalgesia and edema when applied before the serotonin (5-HT) administered into the rat paw. LF and HF TENS were applied to the right paw for 20 min, and 5-HT was administered immediately after TENS. The Hargreaves method was used to measure nociception, while the hydroplethysmometer (Ugo Basile®) was used to measure edema. Neither HF nor LF TENS inhibited 5-HT-induced edema. However, LF TENS, but not HF TENS, completely reduced 5-HT-induced hyperalgesia. Pre-treatment of the paw with naltrexone, prior to application of TENS, (Nx: 50 μg; showed a complete blockade of the analgesic effect induced by low frequency TENS. Thus, our results confirmed the lack of an anti-inflammatory effect through the use of TENS as well as the participation of peripheral endogenous opioid receptors in LF TENS analgesia in addition to its central action.

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