Do Tens Units Work?

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A tens unit is a non-invasive treatment method for treating chronic pain without the use of medications. Tens units, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units, are a form of electroanalgesia, which means using electricity to help relieve pain. Many people wonder if tens units work and can be intimidated by the idea of using electricity as a method of pain relief.

The tens unit delivers electrical current to the skin, which effectively decreases the pain signals sent to the brain. The intensity and location of the impulses are controlled by the user and the unit helps the body create increasing levels of endorphins, natural pain-killing chemicals which can decrease the perception of pain.

There are several hundred clinical reports related to using tens units. Research indicates that tens units may be effective in relieving pain associated with a number of conditions including lower back pain, arthritic and myofascial pain, postsurgical pain, sympathetically mediated pain, bladder incontinence, neurogenic pain, and visceral pain.

Some physicians and many chiropractors have tens units in their offices and they may allow you to try the tens unit for a session or two at their offices before you decide if you wish to purchase one. Many health insurers will pay for at least a portion of the cost of the unit, which can cost several hundred dollars.

To use the tens unit and determine if it works for you, set the machine to its lowest setting and begin turning up the level until you can feel a tingle. The sensation will not be painful, but it can be a strong feeling. However, if the level causes muscle contracture, then the unit is set too high. The shortest session that is helpful is about an hour, but it can be used for up to 2 hours.

If you are wondering if a tens unit will work for you, then talk to your health care provider to see if the tens unit could be helpful for you.


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