The effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on chronic subjective tinnitus

Am J Otolaryngol. 2020 Jan-Feb;41(1):102326. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2019.102326. Epub 2019 Oct 29.


Objectives: Chronic Subjective Tinnitus is a very highly prevalent disorder worldwide. There is no definitive treatment. The aim of this study is to investigate the efficacy of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) applied to the auricula for treating tinnitus using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) and Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI).

Methods: The 60 patients were randomly divided into 3 groups of 20 patients. The first group (A) had one ear stimulated with TENS, and the second group (B) had both ears stimulated. Group C (placebo group) received no electrical or sound stimulation. All group patients received total of 10 sessions with a maximum of 4 days between the sessions.

Results: The THI and DASS scores decreased significantly after the treatment (p < 0.05). A significant difference was also observed between the groups after treatment (p < 0.05). While there was no difference between group A and B, it was shown that group C's post-treatment score was significantly higher than those of both groups (p < 0.05.) CONCLUSION: It is important to note that TENS has a therapeutic effect on subjective chronic tinnitus as well as a placebo effect.

Keywords: Auricula; Placebo effect; TENS; Tinnitus.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tinnitus / psychology
  • Tinnitus / therapy*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*