Effects of TENS on Pain Management
If youre one of the 31 million Americans with chronic back pain, you may have tried any number of treatments. One you might not have tried and is still somewhat controversial is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, known as TENS.
TENS is a small battery-operated generator with electrodes attached to it. It is compact enough to carry with you, around the size of a Walkman. The theory is that the low-voltage electric current blocks pain pathways between the brain and the site of the pain. So health care providers believe that when the electrical current messes up the pain signals, the body doesnt think it should hurt there anymore. Others health providers believe TENS stimulates production of the bodys natural painkillers, endorphins, and may lessen the pain in this way. There is no scientific proof either way why this device works for some and not for other patients.
Clearly, this device does not work for everyone but it will often affect the degree of pain the patient is experiencing. One small study found that it provided safe relief for more than half of acute back pain sufferers. It can also be helpful for home treatment of the chronic pains of migraines and localized arthritis.
For some, relief can last for hours even days. But most people who have chronic pain found they get relief by using TENS an hour at a time, six times a day. It doesnt interfere with work, or other routine activities.