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Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in Myofascial Lumbar and Cervical Pain Analysis of its Efficacy and Optimal Electrode Placement
  1. Richard M. Rosenblatt, MD and
  2. Guy Corkill, MD, FRCS
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio and the Department of Neurosurgery, University of California, Davis, California


A questionnaire was sent to patients with myofascial lumbar or cervical pain who were treated with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in order to determine the efficacy of this therapeutic modality. It was found that 45% of the lumbar pain patients and 33% of the cervical pain patients experienced a 50% or greater reduction in their pain with TENS. The optimal sites for placement of TENS electrodes also were ascertained. In those patients who received total relief of pain with TENS, three sites were noted consistently: a) bilateral stimulation over the sacroiliac joints; b) ipsalateral stimulation over the sacroiliac joint and sciatic nerve adjacent to the greater trochanter of the femur; and c) bilateral stimulation of the paraspimous muscles of C4. These three sites correspond to known acupuncture and muscle trigger points suggesting a common mechanism of action.

  • Pain: myofascial
  • cervical
  • lumbar
  • Pain: chronic
  • benign
  • Analgesia
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
  • acupuncture
  • Muscle: trigger points

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  • The preliminary results of this investigation were presented in a scientific display at the 1981 Annual Scientific meeting of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia.

    Address all reprint requests to Dr. Rosenblatt: Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, 410 West Tenth Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210.