This study for knee osteoarthritis suggests that TENS for osteoarthritis was not helpful. However all the outcomes improved as the patients were doing an exercise program as well. So does that mean TENS doesn’t work?
I have many clients who love their TENS machines including Breon who uses his TENS for osteoarthritis in his lower back and hips. It helps him keep on playing tennis 2 or 3 times a week at age 79!
He finds it relieves the stiffness in the morning and is really good if he overdoes it. He also uses it before he does his exercise program 3 times a week and he thinks it gives a better result if he does. So is he imagining the improvement and the TENS is a placebo that works because I have told him it will help?
Normally I teach hands on massage for any joint a patient can reach themselves. but I suggested a TENS for him as the buttock muscles were heavily involved in him and they are difficult to massage yourself. I didn’t want his poor wife having to massage his bum all the time!
So Why Does TENS for Osteoarthritis in the Knee Not Help?
In this trial patients with knee osteoarthritis either had proper TENS used or sham TENS used dummy devices with no electrical output.
Call me dumb but surely people noticed that there was no current going through as TENS produces a tingling and slight jumping of the muscles? I don’t think people are that stupid!
Also they state:
Active TENS produced a “strong but comfortable” paraesthesia within the painful area
In other words it gave pain relief!
So what the real outcome was is that TENS for osteoarthritis gives pain relief but does not improve function?
Most of us care A LOT about the level of pain we have!
Personally pain relief is a huge part of my treatment and management plan and is as important as how I function but it appears these researchers don’t agree!
Should You Use TENS for Osteoarthritis?
I still believe hands on massage as I teach in How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally is better than TENS but if the degeneration is in your back or other hard to reach place then a TENS machine is the next best thing.
These are TENS machines I suggest you consider. Look at the features they have even if you don’t want to buy one from Amazon!