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Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on acute postoperative pain intensity and mobility after hip fracture: A double-blinded, randomized trial

Authors Elboim-Gabyzon M, Andrawus Najjar S, Shtarker H

Received 11 February 2019

Accepted for publication 11 July 2019

Published 29 October 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 1841—1850

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S203658

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Michal Elboim-Gabyzon,1 Sahar Andrawus Najjar,2,3 Haim Shtarker3,4

1Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel; 2Department of Physical Therapy, Galilee Medical Center, Nahariya 22100, Israel; 3Department of Orthopedics "A", Galilee Medical Center, Nahariya 22100, Israel; 4Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan University, Tsfat, Israel

Correspondence: Michal Elboim-Gabyzon
Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, 910 Eshkol Building, 199 Aba Khoushy Street, Haifa 3498838, Israel
Tel +972 4 545968943
Email michal.elboim@gmail.com

Background: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a noninvasive modality which may be used to reduce acute postoperative pain. Intense perioperative pain within the first few days after hip fracture surgery is common and is related to negative consequences such as restricted and delayed ambulation.
Objective: The objective of the present study was to examine the effect of incorporating TENS treatment on pain intensity, and mobility, with standard rehabilitation care during the acute post-operative phase following Gamma-nail surgical fixation of extracapsular hip fractures.
Materials and methods: Forty-one patients were randomly assigned to a supplement of 30 mins of active TENS or sham TENS. The standard rehabilitation care included five daily 30 mins physical therapy treatments beginning 24 hrs after surgery. Outcome measures were: pain intensity at rest, at night and during ambulation (assessed with the Numeric Rating Scale; Functional Ambulation Classification instrument; time to complete five sit-to-stand tests; and two-minute walk test). Data were analyzed with Wilcoxon score rank tests. Significance was set at p≤0.05.
Results: Significantly greater pain reduction during walking was noted in the active TENS group compared to sham TENS group (differences between the fifth and the second days: 2.55±1.37 vs 1.06± 1.11, respectively; p=0.0011). Additionally, advantage of active TENS was demonstrated in greater increase in walking distance on the fifth day and higher level of mobility compared to the sham TENS group. No additional effects of active TENS were noted on pain intensity at rest and at night and on five times sit-to-stand performance.
Conclusion: Addition of TENS to the standard care of elderly patients in the early days following Gamma nail surgical fixation of extracapsular hip fracture is recommended for pain management while walking and functional gait recovery. The effect of TENS on long-term functional outcomes should be explored in future studies.
Trial registration: The trial was registered at the ISRCTN registry: ID ISRCTN32476360.

Keywords: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS, pain, hip fracture, acute postoperative, mobility

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