Influence of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation on Pain, Range of Motion, and Serum Cortisol Concentration in Females Experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David H. Perrin, Former Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: ß-Endorphin (BEP) has been implicated in the analgesic response to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The anterior pituitary gland is a source of ß-endorphin which shares the prohormone proopiomelanocortin (POMC) with adrenocorticotropin (ACTH). Current theory proposes that the stimulation-induced breakdown of POMC results in ACTH release with a subsequent elevation in blood cortisol levels. The purpose of this study was to determine the potential application and mechanism of TENS as an anti-inflammatory agent. Eight female subjects received low frequency, 300 µsec pulse width TENS at four sites associated with relief of upper arm pain once when pain free and again while experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) of the elbow flexor muscle group. Blood samples were withdrawn 15 and 1 minute before and 1, 20, and 40 minutes after treatment. Serum was analyzed for cortisol by radioimmunoassay. TENS treatment failed to elevate serum cortisol concentration, but there was a significant reduction in perception of pain ( p < 0.05) and an improvement in range of elbow extension (p < 0.05) when subjects were treated for DOMS. These results suggest that the anterior pituitary is not a source of BEP in TENS-induced analgesia.

Additional Information

Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy , 11, 100-103
Language: English
Date: 1989
ß-Endorphin, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS, anterior pituitary, delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS, elbow flexor, cortisol

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