Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) is a safe and simple form of analgesia but is little used as an adjunct to local anaesthesia during routine procedures. This trial investigates the use of TENS in the radiology department using distension shoulder arthrography for 'frozen shoulder', a moderately painful procedure, as a model. Sixty patients with a clinical diagnosis of 'frozen shoulder' were randomised to receive high-intensity TENS, low-intensity TENS or to act as controls. A standard procedure was then performed. Following the procedure patients completed a visual analogue pain scale. Mean recorded pain levels were lower in the TENS groups with a 50% difference between the high-intensity group and a 38% difference between the low-intensity group as compared to control (difference statistically significant P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). TENS was well tolerated by patients. The 50% reduction in mean pain levels supports the use of TENS for routine painful procedures.