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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic neck pain

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, December 2019
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (69th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
33 tweeters
6 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page


21 Dimensions

Readers on

282 Mendeley
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic neck pain
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, December 2019
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd011927.pub2
Pubmed ID

Ana Luiza C Martimbianco, Gustavo JM Porfírio, Rafael L Pacheco, Maria Regina Torloni, Rachel Riera


Chronic neck pain is a highly prevalent condition, affecting 10% to 24% of the general population. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the noninvasive, transcutaneous use of electrical stimulation to produce analgesia. It is a simple, low-cost and safe intervention used in clinical practice as an adjunct treatment for painful musculoskeletal conditions that have a considerable impact on daily activities, such as chronic neck pain. This review is a split from a Cochrane Review on electrotherapy for neck pain, published in 2013, and focuses specifically on TENS for chronic neck pain. To evaluate the effectiveness of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) (alone or in association with other interventions) compared with sham and other clinical interventions for the treatment of chronic neck pain. We searched Cochrane Back and Neck Trials Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, five other databases and two trials registers to 9 November 2018. We also screened the reference lists of relevant studies to identify additional trials. There were no language, source, or publication date restrictions. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving adults (≥ 18 years of age) with chronic neck pain (lasting > 12 weeks) that compared TENS alone or in combination with other treatments versus active or inactive treatments. The primary outcomes were pain, disability and adverse events. Two independent review authors selected the trials, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of included studies. A third review author was consulted in case of disagreements. We used the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool (adapted by Cochrane Back and Neck), to assess the risk of bias of individual trials and GRADE to assess the certainty of evidence. We used risk ratios (RRs) to measure treatment effects for dichotomous outcomes, and mean differences (MDs) for continuous outcomes, with their respective 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We included seven RCTs with a total of 651 participants, mean age 31.7 to 55.5 years, conducted in three different countries (Turkey, Jordan and China). The length of follow-up ranged from one week to six months. Most RCTs used continuous TENS, with a frequency of 60 Hz to 100 Hz, pulse width of 40 μs to 250 μs and tolerable intensity, described as a tingling sensation without contraction, in daily sessions lasting 20 to 60 minutes. Due to heterogeneity in interventions and outcomes, we did not pool individual study data into meta-analyses. Overall, we judged most studies as being at low risk for selection bias and high risk for performance and detection bias. Based on the GRADE approach, there was very low-certainty evidence from two trials about the effects of conventional TENS when compared to sham TENS at short-term (up to 3 months after treatment) follow-up, on pain (assessed by the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)) (MD -0.10, 95% CI -0.97 to 0.77) and the percentage of participants presenting improvement of pain (RR 1.57, 95% CI 0.84 to 2.92). None of the included studies reported on disability or adverse events. This review found very low-certainty evidence of a difference between TENS compared to sham TENS on reducing neck pain; therefore, we are unsure about the effect estimate. At present, there is insufficient evidence regarding the use of TENS in patients with chronic neck pain. Additional well-designed, -conducted and -reported RCTs are needed to reach robust conclusions.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 33 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 282 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 282 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 41 15%
Student > Master 30 11%
Researcher 20 7%
Student > Ph. D. Student 15 5%
Student > Doctoral Student 14 5%
Other 45 16%
Unknown 117 41%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Nursing and Health Professions 49 17%
Medicine and Dentistry 47 17%
Neuroscience 8 3%
Sports and Recreations 8 3%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 6 2%
Other 35 12%
Unknown 129 46%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 35. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 22 August 2022.
All research outputs
of 22,077,419 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,177 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 434,942 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 22,077,419 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 95th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,177 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 29.9. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 434,942 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 13 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 69% of its contemporaries.