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A survey of the attitudes and beliefs about the use of TENS for pain management by physiotherapists working in two cities in Sri Lanka

Authors Dissanayaka T, Banerjee G, Johnson M

Received 17 October 2013

Accepted for publication 15 November 2013

Published 14 May 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 35—41


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Thusharika D Dissanayaka,1 Gourav Banerjee,2,3 Mark I Johnson2,3

1Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka; 2Centre for Pain Research, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK; 3Leeds Pallium Research Group, Leeds, UK

Introduction: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a noninvasive, inexpensive, self-administered technique used throughout the world to relieve pain. In Sri Lanka, physiotherapists may use TENS for their patients as they receive a small amount of education about the principles and practice of TENS in their undergraduate training. To date, there have been no data gathered about the use of TENS by physiotherapists in Sri Lanka. The aim of this study was to assess attitudes and beliefs of physiotherapists working in Sri Lanka about their use of TENS for pain management.
Methods: A postal survey was undertaken using a 12-item questionnaire developed by the investigators to gather information about attitudes, beliefs and use of TENS in clinical practice. The questionnaire was distributed to 100 physiotherapists working in three government hospitals and six private hospitals in the cities of Kandy and Colombo. A descriptive analysis of data was performed.
Results: Sixty-seven completed questionnaires were returned (67% response rate). Over half of the respondents (58.2%) reported that they used TENS to treat pain “often” or “very often”, with use for musculoskeletal/orthopedic (61.3%) and neuropathic/neuralgic (79.1%) pain being most common. TENS was used less for postsurgical pain and rarely for cancer pain. Most (95.5%) respondents reported that their patients benefitted “considerably” from TENS. 76.1% of the respondents reported that they did not recommend and/or prescribe TENS for patients to use at home.
Conclusion: Physiotherapists value TENS as a treatment option to manage musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain. However, there is a need for systems and resources to enable to patients to self-administer TENS rather than having to visit clinics.

Keywords: transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, electrotherapy, non pharmacological analgesia

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