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The Characteristics of Acupuncture-Like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (Acupuncture-like TENS): A Literature Review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Francis, Dr Mark Johnson


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Acupuncture-like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is used for pain relief. This study aimed to review the descriptions of the characteristics of acupuncture-like TENS reported within the published literature up to June 2011. A total of 88 items of published literature were retrieved.. 35 authors or groups provided 1 publication (Single Contributions - SC) and 10 authors or groups provided more than 1 publication (Multiple Contributions - MC). In order to gain the acupuncture-like effects of TENS, authors often characterised acupuncture-like TENS using: an intensity that caused muscle contractions (6MC, 17SC), or a sensation to tolerance threshold (3MC, 4SC); a 1-4 pulses per second (pps) pulse rate (5MC, 16SC); a 100-200 mu s pulse duration (2MC, 8SC); stimulation to acupuncture points (5MC, 4SC), or myotomes (3MC, 3SC), or over the painful area (3MC, 1SC). Critically, unlike many authors included in the present review, the International Association for the Study of Pain core curriculum does not mention the triggering of muscle contractions when acupuncture-like TENS is defined. This may be an area that that they should reconsider.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Francis RP, Johnson MI

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research

Year: 2011

Volume: 36

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 231-258

Print publication date: 01/01/2011

ISSN (print): 0360-1293

ISSN (electronic):



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