Immediate analgesic effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential current (IFC) on chronic low back pain: Randomised placebo-controlled trial

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2021 Jul:27:181-190. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.03.005. Epub 2021 Mar 18.


Objective: To compare the immediate analgesic effect of transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential current (IFC), with different combinations of parameters, in individuals with chronic low back pain (CLBP).

Methodology: 280 individuals with CLBP were included in the study, both genders, randomized in 8 groups: GI2KHz/100Hz, GI2KHz/2Hz, GI4KHz/100Hz, GI4KHz/2Hz, placebo interferential group (GIP), GT100Hz, GT2Hz, and placebo TENS group (GTP). All individuals underwent a single application of TENS or IFC for 30min. The assessments were carried out prior to the intervention, as well as immediately after, with the following outcomes: pain intensity (Numeric Pain Rating Scale-NPRS), qualitative pain characteristics (McGill Pain Questionnaire-MPQ), and pressure pain threshold (PPT) by pressure algometry (PA) in 4 points of the low back region.

Results: In the intergroup comparison of NPRS, all intervention groups showed greater pain reduction compared to GTP (p < 0.05). In the total MPQ score, the groups that obtained significant results (p < 0.05) when compared to GTP were GT100Hz and GT2Hz, while the groups GT100Hz and GI4KHz/100Hz were significant when compared to GIP. In the PA, GI4KHz/100Hz showed an increase in the PPT in all points compared to GTP and GI2KHz/100Hz.

Conclusion: Both TENS and IFC presented immediate analgesic effect in CLBP, with emphasis on the interferential current of 4 KHz modulated at 100Hz.

Keywords: Analgesia; Chronic pain; Electrical stimulation therapy; Low back pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain* / therapy
  • Male
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics