A comparison of high versus low intensity transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for chronic pain

  • Diyar Hussein Tahir Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq.
Keywords: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, analgesia


Background and objectives: Over the last 35 years electrical nerve stimulation has been employed increasingly in the treatment of chronic pain. This study was carried out to compare the analgesic effect that produced by applying a fixed frequency (50 Hz) high intensity tolerably painful transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) with the conventional low intensity TENS.


Thirty six patients (26 Females and 10 males with age 18 – 54 years) were selected from patients consulting a private psychiatric clinic in Erbil city from March 2009 to march 2010. They had chronic pain in head and neck for more than 2 years. The cases were allocated randomly into two groups; group A treated by the conventional TENS of high frequency 100 Hz with low intensity current, by applying the electrical electrodes on the nucheal region (back of neck) for 20 minutes once daily for six days, and once weekly for one month then follow up the patients after 3 months, while in group B; the same procedure was applied but with fixed frequency 50 Hz and high intensity current adjusted to a tolerably painful level. The pain measured by verbal scale ranged from 0 to 4.  

Results: Patients who received high intensity TENS; 94% of them got immediate pain relief and 17% got long lasting pain relief more than three months, while with the conventional TENS only 33% got immediate pain relief and no one got long lasting pain relief.

Conclusion: The tolerably painful high intensity TENS gives better analgesic effect than the conventional TENS, and in some patients it may leads to long lasting analgesic effect(this may be attributed to the pan stimulation involving a variety of afferent fibers; Aa/β, Ad & C).


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How to Cite
Tahir, D. (2018). A comparison of high versus low intensity transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for chronic pain. Zanco Journal of Medical Sciences (Zanco J Med Sci), 15(2), 51-56. Retrieved from https://zjms.hmu.edu.krd/index.php/zjms/article/view/445
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