Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been dealt a double blow in a pair of papers which looked at the use of the devices in tennis elbow and knee osteoarthritis.
The first - published in the BMJ - randomised 121 patients with tennis elbow to GP management plus TENS and 120 to GP management only.After six weeks there was no clinically or statistically significant differences seen between groups. In fact adherence to TENS was low- with only 42% of patients still using the device after six weeks.
Meanwhile, in Arthritis Care Research, 224 patients with knee OA were randomised to receive TENS plus exercise, sham TENS plus exercise and exercise only. All outcomes improved over 24 weeks but there were no differences between trial arms.