Background. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is probably the most diffused physical therapy used for antalgic purposes. Although it continues to be used by trial and error, correct targeting of paresthesias evoked by the electrical stimulation on the painful area is diffusely considered very important for pain relief. Aim. To investigate if TENS antalgic effect is higher in the cutaneous area of the stimulated nerve when confronted to neighbouring areas. Methods. 10 volunteers (4 males, 6 females) underwent three different sessions: in two, heat pain thresholds (HPTs) were measured on the dorsal hand skin before, during and after electrical stimulation (100 Hz, 0.1 msec) of superficial radial nerve; in the third session HPTs, were measured without any stimulation. Results. Radial nerve stimulation induced an increase of HPT significantly higher in its cutaneous territory when confronted to the neighbouring ulnar nerve territory, and antalgic effect persisted beyond the stimulation time. Conclusions. The location of TENS electrodes is crucial for obtaining the strongest pain relief, and peripheral nerve trunk stimulation is advised whenever possible. Moreover, the present study indicates that continuous stimulation could be unnecessary, suggesting a strategy for avoiding the well-known tolerance-like effect of prolonged TENS application.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)