Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENSs) have been proved to be effective in muscle pain management for several decades. However, there is no consensus for the optimal TENS program. Previous research demonstrated that a 100 Hz TENS (L-TENS) provided better analgesia than a conventional TENS (< 5 Hz). However, no research compared a higher-frequency (> 100 Hz) TENS with a 100 Hz TENS. We used a 5000 Hz (5 kHz) frequency TENS (M-TENS) and an L-TENS to compare analgesic effect on a mice skin/muscle incision retraction model. Three groups of mice were used (sham, L-TENS, and M-TENS) and applied with different TENS programs on Day 4 after the mice skin/muscle incision retraction model; TENS therapy was continued as 20 min/d for 3 days. Mice analgesic effects were measured via Von Frey microfilaments with the up–down method. After therapy, mice spinal cord dorsal horn and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) were harvested for cytokine evaluation (tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β) with the Western blotting method. Our data demonstrated that the M-TENS produced better analgesia than the L-TENS. Cytokine in the spinal cord or DRG all expressed lower than that of the sham group. However, there is no difference in both cytokine levels between TENSs of different frequencies in the spinal cord and DRG. We concluded that the M-TENS produced faster and better mechanical analgesia than the L-TENS in the mice skin/muscle incision retraction model. Those behavior differences were not in accordance with cytokine changes in the spinal cord or DRG.
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