Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Pain

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is commonly used as an electroanalgesic and has been shown to be efficacious in the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain (Johnson et al. 2007). TENS is believed to preferentially stimulate large alpha sensory nerves and reduce pain at the presynaptic level in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord through nociceptive inhibition (Cheing et al. 1999).


In an RCT, TENS was found to significantly reduce pain severity compared to a sham group over a 12 week intervention (Bi et al. 2015). Ozkul and colleagues (2015) found TENS was effective in reducing pain intensity, mood, and sleep interference compared to VI overall. However, VI resulted in significant reduction in hot, sharp, unpleasant, and deep pain types while TENS was not. In terms of low vs. high frequency TENS, Norrbring (2009) found no significant difference between the two frequencies in reducing pain post SCI.


There is level 1b evidence (Bi et al. 2015) that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation reduced pain post SCI.

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