Optimal stimulation duration of tens in the management of osteoarthritic knee pain

Lai Ying Gladys Cheing, Amy Y Y Tsui, Sing Kai Lo, Christina W Y Hui-Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study examined the optimal stimulation duration of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for relieving osteoarthritic knee pain and the duration (as measured by half-life) of post-stimulation analgesia. Subjects: Thirty-eight patients received either: (i) 20 minutes (TENS20); (ii) 40 minutes (TENS40); (iii) 60 minutes (TENS60) of TENS; or (iv) 60 minutes of placebo TENS (TENSPL) 5 days a week for 2 weeks. Methods: A visual analogue scale recorded the magnitude and pain relief period for up to 10 hours after stimulation. Results: By Day10, a significantly greater cumulative reduction in the visual analogue scale scores was found in the TENS40 (83.40%) and TENS60 (68.37%) groups than in the TENS20 (54.59%) and TENSPL (6.14%) groups (p < 0.000), such a group difference was maintained in the 2-week follow-up session (p < 0.000). In terms of the duration of post-stimulation analgesia period, the duration for the TENS40 (256 minutes) and TENS60 (258 minutes) groups was more prolonged than in the other 2 groups (TENS20 = 168 minutes, TENSPL = 35 minutes) by Day10 (p < 0.000). However, the TENS40 group produced the longest pain relief period by the follow-up session. Conclusion: 40 minutes is the optimal treatment duration of TENS, in terms of both the magnitude (VAS scores) of pain reduction and the duration of post-stimulation analgesia for knee osteoarthritis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-68
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003


  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Pain
  • TENS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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