TENS for osteoarthritis: Not enough evidence to recommend

Oct 07, 2009

Despite twenty years of research on the use of electrostimulation techniques (TENS) for treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee, researchers still cannot say whether it reduces pain or physical disability. This is the conclusion of a Cochrane Systematic Review of electrostimulation trials in osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of pain and physical disability in older people. In one widely used form of treatment for the disease, called transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), an electrical current is applied to the skin at the joint to stimulate the nerves and try to relieve pain.

The authors reviewed data from 18 small trials that together included 813 patients. According to their findings for physical disability, 29 out of 100 people who received TENS treatment responded to treatment, compared to 26 out of 100 people who received fake TENS treatment or took their usual treatments. There was no difference in pain relief or in the number who dropped out due to adverse effects.

"Although some people who have electrostimulation treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee show some improvement, our data suggest that this may not be greater than the improvement experienced by those who receive placebo treatment," said lead researcher, Anne Rutjes of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland. "After two decades of research on the use of these methods there is still no clear evidence that they work."

Data was only available for a few small trials and many of these were of very poor quality. In particular, most did not provide enough information about the number of drop outs and some failed to make any mention at all of adverse effects. "To clarify the effectiveness of TENS as a treatment for we need larger, better quality trials," says Rutjes.

Source: Wiley (news : web)

Explore further: Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reviewers agree on osteoarthritis of the knee

Dec 06, 2007

Concerns over the cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) led to the publication of several sets of fresh guidelines on the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. But a review of these guidelines, ...

Drug-free treatments offer hope for older people in pain

Sep 10, 2007

Mind-body therapies, which focus on the interactions between the mind, body and behavior, and the ways in which emotional, mental, social and behavioral factors can affect health, may be of particular benefit to elderly chronic ...

Detecting early signs of osteoarthritis

Jul 23, 2009

Researchers at The University of Nottingham are hoping to find out if inflammation of the knee could be an early sign of osteoarthritis — a condition which leads to pain, stiffness, swelling and disability.

Recommended for you

Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

11 hours ago

(AP)—Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world's deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa's largest city with 21 million ...

Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia

11 hours ago

(AP)—Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people and sickened more than 700 are set to go to trial this week in Georgia.

Remote tribe members enter another village, catch flu

19 hours ago

Advocates for indigenous tribes are worried over incidents last month when some members of one of the last uncontacted tribes in the Peru/Brazil region, across borders, left their home in Peru and entered ...

Nigeria on red alert after first Ebola death

Jul 26, 2014

Nigeria was on alert against the possible spread of Ebola on Saturday, a day after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital.

User comments : 0