What are some benefits of TENS therapy?


Quick Answer

Transcutaneous eletrical nerve stimulation therapy is a method of pain management that has the primary benefits of being noninvasive, nonpharmacological and safe for most patients, as reported by WebMD. However, it is not clear if TENS therapy is effective for all users or for all types of pain.

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Full Answer

TENS units work to relieve pain by transmitting electrical impulses between two electrodes placed on the skin, notes WebMD. These electrical impulses travel through nerve fibers as they move from one electrode to the other and stimulate the nerve in a fashion that results in pain relief, though the mechanism by which TENS therapy relieves pain is not entirely clear, as of 2015. One hypothesis to explain the efficacy of TENS treatment holds that the electrical impulses TENS units transmit scramble normal pain signals so that they are not transmitted to the brain or are weaker in strength, while another holds that TENS stimulation increases the production of natural painkiller molecules known as endogenous opioids or endorphins.

TENS therapy does not relieve pain in all users, according to WebMD. In addition, TENS therapy has been shown to be of no benefit for lower back pain. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy, which also uses electrical impulses, is effective for back pain, but it requires the insertion of wires into the discs of the spine rather than the use of external electrodes.

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