Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been reported to alleviate pain in chronic pain patients. Currently, there is limited knowledge how TENS affects can cause cortical neuromodulation and lead to modulation of non-painful and painful sensations. Our aim was therefore to investigate the effect of conventional, high-frequency TENS on cortical activation and perceived sensations in healthy subjects. We recorded somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and perceived sensations following high-frequency TENS (100 Hz) in 40 healthy subjects (sham and intervention group). The effect of TENS was examined up to an hour after the intervention phase, and results revealed significant cortical inhibition. We found that the magnitude of N100, P200 waves, and theta and alpha band power was significantly suppressed following the TENS intervention. These changes were associated with a simultaneous reduction in the perceived intensity and the size of the area where the sensation was felt. Although phantom limb pain relief previously has been associated with an inhibition of cortical activity, the efficacy of the present TENS intervention to induce such cortical inhibition and cause pain relief should be verified in a future clinical trial.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programmed under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant
agreement No 754465 and the Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain (CNAP),
which is supported by the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF121).
- Band-pass filters
- Electrical stimulation
- Sensory evoked potentials
- Sensory feedback