Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (often referred to by the acronym TENS) is a non-surgical treatment that uses low-voltage electrical current to relieve pain. Typically, a small, handheld TENS unit is connected to the area of pain by two electrodes that are attached to the skin. When the unit is turned on, the electrodes apply a current of electricity through the tissue that helps to dull pain signals. Scientists aren’t yet completely certain what it is about the use of low-voltage electricity that works to treat the pain; some researchers believe that pumping electricity into the nerves essentially “scrambles” the pain signals to the brain, while others believe that stimulation of the culprit nerves instigates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killers. Whatever the mechanism, many patients have found satisfying relief from the use of this simple procedure.

In order to achieve the best pain-relief results for your condition, your doctor or physical therapist will help you determine the best wavelength and intensity settings for your TENS unit. Once your doctor or physical therapist is satisfied that you have a good grasp of how to perform the treatment on your own, you can begin to work with your own TENS unit in the comfort of your home. The convenience of being able to do it yourself when you need it can provide valuable peace of mind knowing that medical treatment is never beyond your reach. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is considered a very safe option for treatment of pain, so long as it is not misused.

Patients using TENS therapy should observe the following general guidelines:

  • Do not place electrodes on areas with broken skin
  • Check the area under the electrodes regularly while in use to make sure your skin is not being burned or irritated
  • Do not use your TENS unit in the bath or shower
  • Stop using TENS therapy and contact your doctor if you develop skin irritation or other issues due to treatment

If you are experiencing back pain and would like to discuss using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation as a treatment, contact our office at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment.