Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation

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Transcutaneous nerve stimulation sometimes referred to as TENS, is a machine treatment for people suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic pain disorder. The electrical device consists of electrodes that when attached to the skin, deliver electricity to block nerves from sending pain messages. While it has been shown to provide some short-term relief, long-term benefits have not been proven.


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can relieve pain caused from surgery, childbirth, migraines, headaches, injuries, arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, chronic wounds, and cancer, among other things. TENS is said to help nerve pain best, including tingling and numbness, and some doctors believe it stimulates endorphins, which act as natural painkillers.

What TENS Feels Like

When using a TENS machine a mild electrical current travels through the patient’s body, sometimes producing tingling or warmth. TENS sessions typically last five to 15 minutes, and the frequency of use is determined by the severity of pain. Although TENS treatment can be performed by physical therapists and medical practitioners, patients can also use a portable TENS unit at home.

TENS Studies

So far there is limited evidence to show TENS is effective in treating chronic pain. Usually, doctors will prescribe pain medication to be used in conjunction with TENS treatment. Many studies have been done with the TENS machine, but few offered conclusive results. Of two fairly high quality TENS studies, one showed significant relief of lower back pain in the TENS group, while the other study did not show much of a difference between the TENS and the control groups.

Source: Cancer.Org


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Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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