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Vol. 21. Num. 2.
Pages 77-152 (01 March 2017)
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Vol. 21. Num. 2.
Pages 77-152 (01 March 2017)
Original Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.03.003
Does electrode placement influence tens-induced antihyperalgesia in experimental inflammatory pain model?
Maurício L. Poderoso Netoa, Leonardo Y.S. Maciela, Kamilla M.L. Cruzb, Valter J. Santana Filhob,c, Leonardo R. Bonjardima,c, Josimari M. DeSantanaa,b,c,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Departamento de Fisioterapia, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Rua Claudio Batista, s/n, Aracaju, SE 49100-000, Brazil.
a Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Sergipe (UFS), Aracaju, SE, Brazil
b Departamento de Fisioterapia, Universidade Federal de Sergipe (UFS), Aracaju, SE, Brazil
c Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências Fisiologicas, Universidade Federal de Sergipe (UFS), Aracaju, SE, Brazil

  • This study challenges the notion that TENS can only be applied at the site of pain.

  • The study supports the use of TENS in patients with significant skin injuries.

  • This helps to understand the action of TENS in edema.

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Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment commonly used for managing pain; however, the ideal placement of the electrodes is not fully understood.


To investigate the best way to apply TENS electrodes in an experimental inflammatory pain model.


Knee joint inflammation was induced in rats, followed by administration of low-frequency TENS (4Hz) under anesthesia for five days. Animals were randomly allocated to five groups according to electrode placement (n=6, each): dermatome, contralateral, paraspinal, acupoint, and control. Interventions: Low-frequency TENS at sensory intensity and 100μs pulse duration. Withdrawal thresholds to mechanical (von Frey) and thermal stimuli and joint edema were assessed before induction of inflammation and immediately before and after application of TENS.


Reduced paw withdrawal threshold and thermal latency that occur 24h after the induction of inflammation were significantly reversed by the administration of TENS in all groups when compared with sham treatment or with the condition before TENS treatment. No difference was observed in the edema measurement.


These results offer more options for practitioners to choose the area of the body most commodious for electrode placement, depending on the clinical condition of the patient, because the effect was similar at all sites. In addition, there was a loss of the effectiveness of TENS in reversing mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia on the fifth day, suggesting the development of the tolerance phenomenon.

Physical therapy
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation


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