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Definition of TENS

The National Health Service had the following to say about TENS machines. When describing TENS treatment it remarked - "TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS is not a cure, but may reduce your pain whilst you wear the machine, helping you to increase your activity levels and your ability to relax"


How TENS machines work

The NHS goes on to explain how TENS machines work -

"Pain messages are carried along nerves via the spinal cord to the brain. TENS sends a tingling sensation along fast nerves. As the brain can only deal with so much information at any one time, the tingling sensation can take priority and the pain messages are blocked or significantly reduced.


The body produces its own natural painkillers, called endorphins, in response to the electrical stimulation created by the TENS machine. It has been shown that a high caffeine intake will limit this benefit.


The TENS sensation creates a “distraction” from the pain. Some people who benefit from TENS are less aware of the pain, because they are more aware of the tingling.


The TENS machine can reduce the sensation of muscle tension and spasm that can be a problem for many patients with back and neck pain."


Opinions from experienced TENS therapy users

The NHS also asked experienced TENS machine users about the benefits of changing the settings and received the following answers.

  • Some settings worked better when the pain was stronger.
  • Changing the settings from time to time stopped them getting used to one sensation.
  • Some people found they could use an intermittent setting for a longer treatment than if they used a constant setting.



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