The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 7 , 2330 - 2337

Systematic Review of Three Electrical Stimulation Techniques for Rehabilitation After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Yue, Chen et al.


The comparative effectiveness of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and electroacupuncture (EA) for improving patient rehabilitation following total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is controversial. Therefore we conducted this systematic review to assess the available evidence.


The PubMed, OVID, and ScienceDirect databases were comprehensively searched and studies were selected and analyzed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) recommendations. Data were extracted and qualitatively synthesized for several outcomes.


Data were analyzed from 17 randomized controlled trials involving 1285 procedures: 8 NMES studies (608 procedures), 7 TENS studies (560 procedures), and 2 EA studies (117 procedures). Qualitative analysis suggested that NMES was associated with higher quadriceps strength and functional recovery after TKA. Recovery benefits were maximal when the stimulation was performed once or twice a day for 4-6 weeks at an intensity of 100-120 mA and frequency of 30-100 Hz. The electrode should be sufficiently large (100-200 cm2) to reduce discomfort. TENS at an intensity of 15-40 mA and frequency of 70-150 Hz provided effective analgesia after TKA. EA at an intensity of 2 mA and frequency of 2 Hz may also provide postoperative analgesia of TKA.


As adjunct modalities, NMES and TENS can effectively improve rehabilitation after TKA without triggering significant intolerance, and maximal benefits depend on optimized parameters and intervention protocols. EA may be an effective adjunct modality for analgesia after TKA.

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