Prolonged Reduction in Shoulder Strength after Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Treatment of Exercise-Induced Acute Muscle Pain.
OBJECTIVES: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is commonly used for reducing musculoskeletal pain to improve function. However, peripheral nerve stimulation using TENS can alter muscle motor output. Few studies examine motor outcomes following TENS in a human pain model. Therefore, this study investigated the influence of TENS sensory stimulation primarily on motor output (strength) and secondarily on pain and disability following exercise-induced delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). METHODS: Thirty-six participants were randomized to a TENS treatment, TENS placebo, or control group after completing a standardized DOMS protocol. Measures included shoulder strength, pain, mechanical pain sensitivity, and disability. TENS treatment and TENS placebo groups received 90 minutes of active or sham treatment 24, 48, and 72 hours post-DOMS. All participants were assessed daily. RESULTS: A repeated measures analysis of variance and post-hoc analysis indicated that, compared to the control group, strength remained reduced in the TENS treatment group (48 hours post-DOMS, P < 0.05) and TENS placebo group (48 hours post-DOMS, P < 0.05; 72 hours post-DOMS, P < 0.05). A mixed-linear modeling analysis was conducted to examine the strength (motor) change. Randomization group explained 5.6% of between-subject strength variance (P < 0.05). Independent of randomization group, pain explained 8.9% of within-subject strength variance and disability explained 3.3% of between-subject strength variance (both P < 0.05). DISCUSSION: While active and placebo TENS resulted in prolonged strength inhibition, the results were nonsignificant for pain. Results indicated that higher pain and higher disability were independently related to decreased strength. Regardless of the impact on pain, TENS, or even the perception of TENS, may act as a nocebo for motor output.
Butera, KA; George, SZ; Borsa, PA; Dover, GC
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