Objective Although electroacupuncture (EA) therapy is used to relieve various kinds of pain, the optimal frequency and duration of EA remain unclear. We investigated the effect of varying frequency and duration of EA during hyperalgesia elicited by carrageenan-induced inflammation.
Methods Carrageenan was administered by subcutaneous intraplantar injection to induce inflammation. Nociceptive thresholds were measured using the paw pressure threshold (PPT) (Randall-Selitto Test). EA was applied at 3, 15, or 100Hz to the left anterior tibial muscles for 1, 15, or 60 minutes. Intensities used were chosen within the known tolerance of the animal, and increased up to 3mA for 3Hz, and up to 1.5mA for 15 and 100Hz. EA was started three hours after carrageenan injection.
Results Three hours after carrageenan injection, a marked ipsilateral inflammatory response appeared and PPT decreased significantly. This decrease persisted for at least 24 hours after carrageenan injection. EA at 3Hz (60 minutes) resulted in significant increases of PPT which persisted for 24 hours after injection. EA at 3Hz (15 minutes) also induced PPT elevations immediately and for one hour after EA compared to the control group. However, no other variety of EA significantly increased PPT.
Conclusion These results show that EA produces electroacupuncture analgesia of carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia. These findings also suggest that, among the frequencies and durations tested, EA at 3Hz (60 minutes) is the most suitable frequency and duration for carrageenan-induced inflammation. It seems that EA has different analgesic effects and mechanisms according to the parameters of stimulation. For EA in the clinical induction of analgesia, it is especially important that an effective frequency and duration are selected.
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