Improved Walking Claudication Distance with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: An Old Treatment with a New Indication in Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease

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Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to determine whether 45 mins of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation before exercise could delay pain onset and increase walking distance in peripheral artery disease patients.

Design

After a baseline assessment of the walking velocity that led to pain after 300 m, 15 peripheral artery disease patients underwent four exercise sessions in a random order. The patients had a 45-min transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation session with different experimental conditions: 80 Hz, 10 Hz, sham (presence of electrodes without stimulation), or control with no electrodes, immediately followed by five walking bouts on a treadmill until pain occurred. The patients were allowed to rest for 10 mins between each bout and had no feedback concerning the walking distance achieved.

Results

Total walking distance was significantly different between T10, T80, sham, and control (P < 0.0003). No difference was observed between T10 and T80, but T10 was different from sham and control. Sham, T10, and T80 were all different from control (P < 0.001). There was no difference between each condition for heart rate and blood pressure.

Conclusions

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation immediately before walking can delay pain onset and increase walking distance in patients with class II peripheral artery disease, with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation of 10 Hz being the most effective.

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