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

Michal Elboim-Gabyzon, Sahar Andrawus Najjar, Haim Shtarker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 longterm functional outcomes should be explored in future studies. Trial registration: The trial was registered at the ISRCTN registry: ID ISRCTN32476360.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1841-1850
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Interventions in Aging
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the physical therapy staff and the medical staff of the Department of Orthopedics B, Galilee Medical Center for their full cooperation and support during the execution of the study. We thank Mr. Adeeb Doha and Mrs. Mor Kliger Tendler, two physical therapists, for their help in data collection. We also thank all our patients who were willing to participate in this placebo-controlled blinded study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Huang et al.


  • Acute postoperative
  • Hip fracture
  • Mobility
  • Pain
  • TENS
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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