Recent research has revealed that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) might be an option to treat spasticity, a common symptom of multiple sclerosis.

TENS machines are widely used to offer pain relief from a broad spectrum of conditions, including arthritis, period pain and sciatica but a literature review conducted by Spanish researchers has also demonstrated its benefits for MS patients.

Conducted by researchers from Universidad de Castilla la Mancha, Toledo, and Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos de Toledo, the review was published last year in the Spanish scientific journal Neorologia.

Widely reported, including on the website multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com, the study recognised the difficulty of assessing and comparing results obtained in different studies because of the great variability in the types of stimulation used, along with differences in parameters and variables.

However TENS may still be a valid option to reduce spasticity and pain in multiple sclerosis thanks to its low cost, ease of use, and absence of adverse side effects.

During the study, researchers looked at three well-known databases for randomised clinical trials addressing the effects of TENS on spasticity.

Of the 96 studies found, they were only able to analyse 10 of them because the other 85 did not meet inclusion criteria.

Those that remained included data from 207 patients who had a cerebrovascular accident (84 with multiple sclerosis, and 39 with spinal cord lesions). Interestingly, the studies showed that TENS might be effective in reducing spasticity in all these cases.

In light of those results, the authors of the report recommend TENS as a treatment for spasticity.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) treatment is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.

It uses a small battery powered TENS machine connected to the TENS electrodes that are placed on the skin to deliver small electrical impulses that can reduce pain signals to the brain.