• Good advice for aches, pains & injuries
bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Walsh 2009.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for acute pain


Tags: chronic pain, TENS, pain problems, devices, treatment

PainSci summary of Walsh 2009?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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

A failed meta-analysis of just 12 eligible studies of TENS for acute pain, out of almost 1500 candidates, most of which were excluded because they combined TENS. There simply wasn’t enough of the right kind of data to analyze. Even more inconclusive than most inconclusive reviews!

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts 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.

BACKGROUND: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-pharmacological agent, based on delivering low voltage electrical currents to the skin. TENS is used for the treatment of a variety of pain conditions.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the analgesic effectiveness of TENS for acute pain in adults to see if it had any clear analgesic effect in its own right.

SEARCH STRATEGY: The following databases were searched: Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care Group Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CENTRAL (in The Cochrane Library); MEDLINE; EMBASE; CINAHL; AMED; PEDro; OTseeker; OpenSIGLE; and, reference lists of included studies. The most recent search was undertaken in August 2008.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of adults with acute pain (less than 12 weeks) were included if they examined TENS given as a sole treatment and assessed pain with subjective pain scales. Studies were eligible if they compared TENS to placebo TENS, no treatment controls, pharmacological interventions or non-pharmacological interventions. Studies on experimental pain, case reports, clinical observations, letters, abstracts or reviews were excluded. Studies on TENS and labour pain, pain due to dental procedures and primary dysmenorrhoea were excluded. Studies where TENS was given with another treatment as part of the formal study design were also excluded. No restrictions were made regarding language.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed trial eligibility and extracted data. Data were extracted on the following: types of participants and pain condition, study design and methods, treatment parameters, adverse effects, and outcome measures. Study authors were contacted for additional information if necessary.

MAIN RESULTS: Of 1479 studies identified in the search, 132 were identified as relevant. Of these, 116 were excluded; the vast majority of these were excluded due to TENS being given with another treatment. Four studies were categorised as awaiting classification as the information provided in the full text failed to clarify their eligibility. Twelve RCTs involving 919 participants at entry were included. The types of acute pain conditions included procedural pain, e.g. cervical laser treatment, venipuncture, screening flexible sigmoidoscopy and non-procedural pain, e.g. postpartum uterine contractions, rib fractures. It was not possible to perform a meta-analysis due to insufficient data.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Due to insufficient extractable data in the studies included in this review, we are unable to make any definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of TENS as an isolated treatment for acute pain in adults.

related content

One article on cites Walsh 2009 as a source:

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: