Acu-TENS reduces breathlessness during exercise in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Pui Ching Shirley Ngai, Lissa M. Spencer, Alice Y.M. Jones, Jennifer A. Alison, Subramanyam Vemulpad

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Exertional dyspnoea limits level of physical activity in people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This randomized, double-blinded, crossover study evaluated the effect of Acu-TENS, application of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation on acupoints, on breathlessness during exercise in people with COPD. Methods: Twenty-one participants, mean% predicted FEVl50 ± 21%, attended assessment followed by two intervention days, one week apart. On each intervention day, participants performed two endurance shuttle walk tests (ESWT) (Walk 1 and Walk 2). Walk 1 was performed without intervention and Walk 2 was performed with either Acu-TENS or Sham-TENS, in random order, for 45 minutes before and during Walk 2. Duration of each ESWT and dyspnoea score at isotime of Walk 1 and Walk 2 on each intervention day were compared. Between-group differences in ESWT duration and isotime dyspnoea were also compared. Results: At isotime of Walk 1 and Walk2, Acu-TENS showed significant reduction in dyspnoea of -0.8 point (95% CI -0.2 to -1.4) but not in Sham-TENS [0.1 point (95% CI -0.4 to 0.6)]. Compared to Sham-TENS, Acu-TENS showed significant reduction in dyspnoea of-0.9 point (95% CI -0.2 to -1.6) while no between-group significance was found in ESWT duration. Conclusion: Acu-TENS alleviated dyspnoea during walking in people with COPD but did not increase walking duration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3649257
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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