Cochrane Summaries

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Transelectrical nerve stimulation (TENS) helps decrease hand pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis

Brosseau L, Yonge K, Welch V, Marchand S, Judd M, Wells GA, Tugwell P
Published Online: 
7 July 2010

There are three main therapeutic methods of administrating TENS. Conventional TENS (C-TENS) is given at a high stimulation frequency with low intensity. While pain relief is almost immediate, it generally dissipates as soon as the TENS is turned off. A second method is acupuncture-like TENS (AL-TENS). This is given at a low frequency and high intensity, close to the person's limit of tolerance. Many people find this method uncomfortable. The third TENS application method is burst TENS, which is high frequency burst impulses at low-intensity. Results from this Cochrane review indicate that AL-TENS helps decrease pain and joint tenderness compared to a placebo. No benefit was found on grip pain. More people who received conventional TENS reported a decrease in their disease activity than those who received acupuncture-like TENS.

This record should be cited as: 
Brosseau L, Yonge K, Welch V, Marchand S, Judd M, Wells GA, Tugwell P. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the hand. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004377. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004377
Assessed as up to date: 
22 February 2003