Neuropathic pain is a devastating chronic condition and is often induced in the upper limb following nerve injury or damage. Various drugs or surgical methods have been used to manage neuropathic pain; however, these are frequently accompanied by undesirable side effects. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a safe and non-invasive intervention that has been used to alleviate different types of pain in the clinic, but it is unclear whether TENS can improve chronic neuropathic pain in the upper limb. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a single trial of TENS on chronic neuropathic pain following median nerve injury. Male rats weighing 200-250 g received median nerve-ligation of the right forearm, while the control group received only skin-incision without nerve-ligation. Neuropathic pain-behaviors, including mechanical, cold, and thermal allodynia, were measured for 4 weeks. After the development of chronic neuropathic pain, TENS (100 Hz, 200 μs, sub-motor threshold) or placebo-TENS (sham stimulation) was applied for 20 min to the ipsilateral or contralateral side. Neuropathic pain behavior was assessed before and after intervention. Median nerve-ligation significantly induced and maintained neuropathic pain in the ipsilateral side. TENS application to the ipsilateral side effectively attenuated the three forms of chronic neuropathic pain in the ipsilateral side compared to sham-treated rats (peripheral and central effects), while TENS application to contralateral side only reduced mechanical allodynia in the ipsilateral side (central effect). Our findings demonstrate that TENS can alleviate chronic neuropathic pain following median nerve injury.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Median nerve injury
- Neuropathic pain
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)