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Low-frequency transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TNS) is known to produce pain relief as well as widespread and prolonged increases in micro-circulation in the skin and other organs. Such stimulation has further been shown to eliminate skin calcium deposits in systemic sclerosis. The present study tested the effects of TNS on clinical symptoms in peritendinitis calcarea of the shoulder and the possibility that this procedure could eliminate calcium deposits in this disease. Ten patients with 14 calcareous shoulders received TNS-treatment with a follow-up time of 3-10 months. Two of these were classified as acute, 9 as chronic, and 3 as asymptomatic. Great relief of pain and of restricted mobility was encountered in 10 of the 11 symptomatic shoulders one week or two after the onset of daily stimulation with subsequent progressive improvement of residual complaints during the following weeks. There was one relapse after 2 months’ freedom of pain.

Calcium deposits persisted in the 3 asymptomatic shoulders, but was completely eliminated or greatly reduced in 7 of the 11 symptomatic ones. Comparison is made with reported untreated series. Even if most shoulders with calcified peritendinitis will spontaneously improve in time, TNS-treatment shortens the period of incapacitation and discomfort, secures freedom of pain, and allows earlier mobilization. It may thus represent an alternative method to other therapeutic procedures, such as roentgen irradiation and injection of anesthetics and hydrocortisone, in this disabling disorder.
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Keywords: Nerve stimulation; Peritendinitis calcarea humeri; Transcutaneous; Treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Clinical Neurophysiological Laboratory at the Department of Neurology, Rogaland Central Hospital, N-4000 Stavanger, Norway

Publication date: January 1, 1984

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