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Am J Emerg Med. 1987 Jan;5(1):6-10.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation versus oral analgesic: a randomized double-blind controlled study in acute traumatic pain.


A double-blind controlled analgesic study was undertaken in outpatients suffering acute traumatic pain. One hundred patients completed the study and were randomly assigned to four treatment groups, each receiving either functioning transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENS), placebo TENS, acetaminophen with codeine and a functioning TENS, or acetaminophen with codeine and a placebo TENS. Pain was assessed prior to treatment, at 48 hours, and at one month using a visual analog scale. A statistically significant difference in pain relief occurred between the placebo and functioning TENS groups. The TENS was approximately as effective as acetaminophen (300-600 mg) with codeine (30-60 mg) but had no side effects. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators have been shown to be effective in the management of acute traumatic pain and may be indicated for patients who cannot be given medications.

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