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Four Weeks of Active TENS Beneficial for Fibromyalgia

Greater decline seen in movement-evoked pain, fatigue; more improvement found on global impression of change

THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Four weeks of active transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) results in significant improvement in movement-evoked pain and other clinical outcomes compared with placebo-TENS or no TENS, according to a study recently published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Dana L. Dailey, P.T., Ph.D., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues randomly assigned women with fibromyalgia to receive either active-TENS, placebo-TENS, or no-TENS (103, 99, and 99 participants, respectively) and instructed them to use it at home for two hours/day during activity for a four-week period. TENS was applied at the highest tolerable intensity to the lumbar and cervicothoracic regions.

The researchers found that a greater reduction in movement-evoked pain and fatigue was reported in the active-TENS group compared with the placebo-TENS group (group mean differences: −1.0 and −1.4, respectively) and the no-TENS group (group mean differences: −1.8 and −1.9, respectively) after four weeks. Improvement on the global impression of change was reported by a greater percentage of the active-TENS group versus the placebo-TENS group and no-TENS group (70 versus 31 and 9 percent, respectively). No TENS-related serious adverse events were reported, and minor adverse events from TENS were experienced by less than 5 percent of participants.

“TENS is available over the counter, is inexpensive, and is safe and easy to use,” a coauthor said in a statement. “It can provide a self-management option for people with chronic pain, particularly fibromyalgia, to provide an additional level of pain relief.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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