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Title: The application of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation to acupuncture points (Acu-TENS) for pain relief: A discussion of efficacy and potential mechanisms
Authors: Brown, L
Jones, AYM
Holmes, M
Keywords: Analgesics
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
Pain management
Neural stimulation
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Source: Physical therapy reviews, 2009, v. 14, no. 2, p. 93-103 How to cite?
Journal: Physical therapy reviews 
Abstract: Aims: This paper discusses the evidence for the analgesic efficacy of Acu-TENS, the application of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to acupuncture points, and its possible mechanisms of action.
Method: A brief review of recent clinical studies of Acu-TENS in isolation, in combination with other treatment and in comparison with electro-acupuncture, and laboratory studies using pain models is followed by a wider discussion of the evidence. This discussion is structured around questions relating to whether the site of TENS application influences analgesic response; the influence of parameters of Acu-TENS; whether Acu-TENS and acupuncture induce analgesia via similar mechanisms; and possible placebo effects.
Results: While Acu-TENS does appear to induce analgesia, evidence for the use of particular TENS parameters and specific stimulation points is limited. The analgesic effects of Acu-TENS appear to be modulated at multiple levels within the central nervous system including recognised physiological, neuropharmacological and placebo mechanisms.
Conclusion: Much future research is needed but it should be coordinated through collaboration between researchers and practitioners if the essential evidence base is to be systematically built. In addition to establishing the most effective Acu-TENS parameters and points of application, influences including psychological and cultural factors and beliefs, which may be pivotal to response, merit investigation.
ISSN: 1083-3196
EISSN: 1743-288X
DOI: 10.1179/174328809X405964
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