Effect of 4 weeks of Acu-TENS on functional capacity and β-endorphin level in subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A randomized controlled trial

Shirley P.C. Ngai, Alice Y.M. Jones, Christina W.Y. Hui-Chan, Fanny W.S. Ko, David S.C. Hui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Our recent studies showed that one session of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on acupoints (Acu-TENS) improved forced expiratory volume in 1s (FEV1) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study investigated the effect of 4-week Acu-TENS on physical and psychosocial function in these patients. Twenty-eight patients were randomly allocated to receive 4-weeks of 45-min, 5-days/week, of either Acu-TENS (over Dingchuan), Placebo-TENS (same protocol without electrical output), or Sham-TENS (over the patellae). Variables measured before and after intervention included FEV1, forced vital capacity (FVC), 6-min walk distance (6MWD), St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire score (SGRQ), β-endorphin and blood inflammatory marker levels. Only the Acu-TENS group attained significant improvement in FEV1(p=0.046), physical activity (p=0.007) and total SGRQ score (p=0.028). The increase in β-endorphin (p=0.012) correlated positively with the improvement in FEV1(r=0.526, p=0.008). To conclude, 4 weeks of Acu-TENS improved the functional capacity of patients with COPD, probably due to the bronchodilation induced by β-endorphin elevation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010


  • β-Endorphin
  • Acu-TENS
  • COPD
  • Cumulative effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

Cite this