What is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy?

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy involves the use of low-voltage electric currents to treat pain. Electrodes or mediums for electricity to travel to the body, placed on the body at the site of pain deliver electricity that travels through the nerve fibers. The electric currents block the pain receptors from being sent from the nerves to the brain. A patient will receive a small, battery operated TENS machine to use at home. In most cases, a doctor, physical therapist, or acupuncturist adjusts the machine to the correct settings. The provider shows the patient how to use the machine before sending him or her home with the TENS device.

What is TENS therapy used to treat?

TENS therapy can be used to treat both chronic (long lasting) and acute (short-term) pain. The most common conditions that TENS therapy is used to treat are:

  • Osteoporosis-related joint, bone, or muscle problems
  • Fibromyalgia-related joint, bone, or muscle problems
  • Tendinitis (muscle tissue inflammation)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled pads that cushion the joints)
  • Neck pain
  • Labor pain
  • Cancer pain

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