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Efficacy of electrical nerve stimulation for chronic musculoskeletal pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

PainSci » bibliography » Johnson et al 2007
Tags: muscle pain, treatment, TENS, muscle, pain problems, devices

Two articles on PainSci cite Johnson 2007: 1. The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain2. Zapped! Does TENS work for pain?

PainSci commentary on Johnson 2007: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

A positive review of 38 studies of TENS for chronic musculoskeletal pain. The authors speculate that negative results in the past “may have been due to underpowered studies.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Previous studies and meta-analyses of the efficacy of electrical nerve stimulation (ENS) for the treatment of chronic pain of multiple etiologies have produced mixed results. The objective of the present study was to determine whether ENS is an effective treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain by using statistical techniques that permit accumulation of a sample size with adequate power. Randomized, controlled trials published between January 1976 and November 2006 were obtained from the National Libraries of Medicine, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library. Prospective, placebo-controlled studies using any modality of ENS to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain in any anatomical location were included. The main outcome measure was pain at rest. The use of statistical methods to enhance data extraction and a random-effects meta-analysis to accommodate heterogeneity of ENS therapies permitted an adequate number of well designed trials of ENS to be included in the meta-analysis. A total of 38 studies in 29 papers, which included 335 placebo, 474 ENS, and 418 cross-over (both placebo and at least one ENS treatment) patients, met the selection criteria. The overall results showed a significant decrease in pain with ENS therapy using a random-effects model (p<0.0005). These results indicate that ENS is an effective treatment modality for chronic musculoskeletal pain and that previous, equivocal results may have been due to underpowered studies.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:

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