Influence of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) on Pressure Pain Thresholds and Conditioned Pain Modulation in a Randomized Controlled Trial in Women With Fibromyalgia

Giovanni Berardi, Dana L. Dailey, Ruth Chimenti, Ericka Merriwether, Carol G.T. Vance, Barbara A. Rakel, Leslie J. Crofford, Kathleen A. Sluka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) effectively reduces pain in fibromyalgia (FM). The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of TENS use on pressure pain thresholds (PPT) and conditioned pain modulation (CPM) in individuals with FM using data from the Fibromyalgia Activity Study with TENS trial (NCT01888640). Individuals with FM were randomly assigned to receive active TENS, placebo TENS, or no TENS for 4 weeks. A total of 238 females satisfied the per-protocol analysis among the active TENS (n = 76), placebo TENS (n = 68), and no TENS (n = 94) groups. Following 4 weeks of group allocation, the active TENS group continued for an additional 4 weeks of active TENS totaling 8 weeks (n = 66), the placebo and no TENS groups transitioned to receive 4 weeks of active TENS (delayed TENS, n = 161). Assessment of resting pain, movement-evoked pain (MEP), PPT, and CPM occurred prior to and following active, placebo, or no TENS. There were no significant changes in PPT or CPM among the active TENS, placebo TENS, or no TENS groups after 4 weeks. Individuals who reported clinically relevant improvements in MEP (≥30% decrease) demonstrated increases in PPT (P < .001), but not CPM, when compared to MEP non-responders. There were no significant correlations among the change in PPT or CPM compared to MEP and resting pain following active TENS use (active TENS + delayed TENS). PPT and CPM may provide insight to underlying mechanisms contributing to pain; however, these measures may not relate to self-reported pain symptoms. Perspective: Pressure pain threshold increased in individuals with clinically relevant improvement (≥30%) in MEP, indicating the clinical relevance of PPT for understanding mechanisms contributing to pain. CPM was not a reliable indicator of treatment response in MEP responders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pain
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Conditioned pain modulation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain
  • Pressure pain threshold
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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