Two Transcutaneous Stimulation Techniques in Shoulder Pain: Transcutaneous Pulsed Radiofrequency (TPRF) versus Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A Comparative Pilot Study

Pain Res Manag. 2019 Feb 4;2019:2823401. doi: 10.1155/2019/2823401. eCollection 2019.


Objective: To compare the safety and efficacy of 2 transcutaneous stimulation techniques, transcutaneous pulsed radiofrequency (TPRF) versus transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), in chronic shoulder tendonitis.

Design: A prospective, randomized, and double-blind clinical trial.

Setting: Academic pain service of a city hospital.

Subjects: Fifty patients with sonography-confirmed shoulder tendonitis.

Methods: Fifty patients were randomly allocated into two groups for electrical stimulation treatment with 3-month follow-ups: Group 1 (n=25), TENS and Group 2 (n=25), TPRF. Both groups underwent either treatment for 15 minutes every other day, three times total. Our primary goals were to find any treatment comfort level, adverse event, and changes in Constant-Murley shoulder (CMS) scores. The secondary goals were finding the changes in pain, enjoyment of life, and general activity (PEG) scores.

Results: For primary goals, no adverse events were noted throughout this study. No differences were found between groups for treatment tolerability (3.20 + 0.87 vs. 2.16 + 0.75). Statistically significant lower PEG scores were noticeable with the TPRF group after the course (12.73 + 5.79 vs. 24.53 + 10.21, p=0.013). Their statistical significance lasted for 3 months although the difference gap diminished after 1 month. CMS scores were significantly higher in the TPRF group (70.84 + 6.74 vs. 59.56 + 9.49, p=0.007) right after treatment course but the significance did not last.

Conclusions: In treating chronic shoulder tendinitis using two transcutaneous stimulation techniques, both TPRF and TENS are safe and effective. TPRF is superior to TENS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment / methods*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Tendinopathy / complications
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods*