Effect of TENS on pain in relation to central sensitization in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Trials, 02/24/2012

Beckwee D et al. – To increase treatment effectiveness it might be interesting to identify a subgroup of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OAk) patients, i.e., non–sensitized patients, who are likely to benefit from burst tens.


  • Patients with knee pain due to OAk will be recruited through advertisements in local media.
  • Temporal summation, before and after a heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation, will be measured.
  • In addition, pain on a numeric rating score, WOMAC subscores for pain and function and global perceived effect will be assessed.
  • Patients will be randomly allocated to one of two treatment groups (tens, sham tens).
  • Follow–up measurements will be scheduled after a period of 6 and 12 weeks.


  • Tens influences pain through the electrical stimulation of low–threshold A–beta cutaneous fibers.
  • The responsiveness of central pain–signaling neurons of centrally sensitized OAk patients may be augmented to the input of these electrical stimuli.
  • This would encompass an adverse therapy effect of tens.

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