An Investigation of the Hypoalgesic Effects of TENS Delivered by a Glove Electrode

Stephen Cowan, Joanne McKenna, Evie McCrum-Gardner, Mark I. Johnson, Kathleen A. Sluka, Deirdre M. Walsh

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    27 Citations (Scopus)


    This randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study investigated the hypoalgesic effects of high-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) delivered via a glove electrode compared with standard self-adhesive electrodes. Fifty-six TENS-naive, healthy individuals (18 to 50 years old; 28 men, 28 women) were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 groups (n = 14 per group): glove electrode; placebo TENS using a glove electrode; standard electrode; and no treatment control. Active TENS (continuous stimulus, 100 Hz, strong but comfortable intensity) was applied to the dominant forearm/hand for 30 minutes. Placebo TENS was applied using a burst stimulus, 100-Hz frequency, 5-second cycle time for 42 seconds, after which the current amplitude was automatically reset to 0 mA. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were recorded from 3 points on the dominant and nondominant upper limbs before and after TENS. Statistical analyses of dominant PPT data using between-within groups ANOVA showed significant differences between groups at all 3 recording points (P = .01). Post hoc Scheffe tests indicated no significant difference between the standard electrode and glove electrode groups. There was a significant hypoalgesic effect in the standard electrode group compared with the control group and between the glove electrode group and both the control and placebo TENS groups. There was no significant interactive effect between time and group at any of the recording points (P > .05). Perspective: This study presents a comparison of the hypoalgesic effects of 2 different types of TENS electrode, a novel glove electrode and standard self-adhesive rectangular electrodes. The glove electrode provides a larger contact area with the skin, thereby stimulating a greater number of nerve fibers. The results show that both electrodes have similar hypoalgesic effects and therefore give the clinician another choice in electrode. (C) 2009 by the American Pain Society
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)694-701
    JournalJournal of Pain
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jul 2009


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