How TENS can be used to relieve pain

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The TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device is a small, battery-operated device that can help relieve pain. The device has wires attached to sticky pads called electrodes. The electrodes are placed on the skin next to the painful area. It emits mild electrical impulses that can be adjusted in frequency and intensity to help change pain signals in your body.

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Advantage

TENS is lightweight, making it easy to carry and use on the go. It can often be carried in a pocket or fastened to a belt.

TENS is believed to interrupt the pain cycle by providing non-painful sensations to the nerves around the target site, reducing pain signals to the brain. Electrical impulses can also stimulate the body to release endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers.

Applications

TENS can be used to relieve chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) pain and muscle spasms in a variety of conditions, including:

Safety measures

Before using the TENS machine, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you. This medicine should not be used if you are pregnant or if you have epilepsy, poor sensation, heart problems, a pacemaker, or other electrical or metal implant in your body.

TENS electrodes should not be placed on certain areas of the body, including:

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Mouth or eyes
  • Chest and upper back at the same time.
  • Torn skin
  • Tumors
  • Numb areas

There is also a small risk of skin irritation when using TENS, especially if you are allergic to adhesive pads.

Most people can safely use TENS devices, but check with your healthcare provider to make sure it is recommended for your condition. They can also help ensure proper electrode placement for maximum benefit.

Efficiency

Researchers are still evaluating how effective TENS devices are in reducing pain. A 2013 study found that TENS is effective in relieving pain in fibromyalgia patients. A 2012 study showed that TENS can reduce bone pain in cancer patients, but the results were inconclusive due to the limited number of randomized clinical trials.

Research shows that several factors can affect performance. Varying the dose (intensity and frequency) of the TENS unit can help increase its effectiveness so that it does not develop tolerance. You can also benefit by using the maximum intensity that is still comfortable for you. Also, using electrodes in areas that are acupuncture points can help reduce pain.

Although more research is needed, TENS is considered a safe pain management option for many conditions because it is non-invasive and does not require medications that sometimes cause side effects. If you are interested in using a TENS device for pain relief, your healthcare provider can refer you to a physical therapist who will show you how to use a TENS device for your specific condition.

Get the word of drug information

Some healthcare providers may offer TENS therapy in their office or give you a prescription to use at home. Although you can buy a TENS device without a prescription, your healthcare professional can help you decide if it is right for you and how best to use it.

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