Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation using an LTP-like repetitive stimulation protocol for patients with upper limb complex regional pain syndrome: A feasibility study

Cormac Ryan, Richard King, Victoria Robinson, T. D Punt, H. R Dinse, Christian Grüneberg, Mark I. Johnson, Denis Martin

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    Abstract

    Introduction: This feasibility study aimed to (i) develop a clinical protocol using a long-term potentiation-like repetitive stimulation protocol for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in patients with upper limb complex regional pain syndrome and (ii) develop a research protocol for a single-blind randomised controlled trial investigating the efficacy of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for complex regional pain syndrome. Methods: This small-scale single-blind feasibility randomised-controlled trial planned to randomise 30 patients with upper limb complex regional pain syndrome to either a variant of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or placebo transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for three weeks. Stimulation comprised 20 pulses over 1 s with a non- stimulation interval of 5 s, a so-called repetitive electrical stimulation protocol following the timing of long-term potenti- ation. Pain, function and body image were measured at baseline, post-treatment and at three months follow-up. At three months, participants were invited to one-to-one interviews, which were analysed thematically. Results: A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation protocol with electrodes applied proximal to the area of allodynia in the region of the upper arm was developed. Participant concordance with the protocol was high. Recruitment was below target (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (n ¼ 6), placebo (n ¼ 2)). Mean (SD) pain intensity for the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation group on a 0 to 10 scale was 7.2 (2.4), 6.6 (2.8) and 7.8 (1.9), at baseline, post-treatment and at three-month follow-up, respectively. Qualitative data suggested that some patients found transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation beneficial, easy to use and were still using it at three months. Conclusion: Patients tolerated transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation well, and important methodological infor- mation to facilitate the design of a large-scale trial was obtained (ISRCTN48768534).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    JournalHand Therapy
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2016

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