What Are Some Side Effects Caused by Using a TENS Machine?


Quick Answer

Side effects from treatment with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units are rare and include burning and skin irritation, advises Healthline. TENS units should not be used on pregnant women, as the potential effects on a fetus are unknown. People who use devices such as infusion pumps, defibrillators and pacemakers should not be treated with the device, due to electric current exposure. Heart disease and skin allergy sufferers may also experience negative effects.

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Full Answer

TENS units use low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain by calming nerves and releasing endorphins, explains Healthline. The units may be useful for managing pain from conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, migraines, tendonitis and wounds.

However, research measuring the effectiveness of the units has been mixed, notes the Nursing Times. Studies into the effectiveness of the units are limited and sometimes suffer from poor trial design. Health professionals use the machines for patients despite the lack of scientific evidence, due to the low risk of side effects and anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness.

During treatment, electrode pads are placed in various locations on the body to administer the electric current. Each session usually lasts less than 15 minutes and may be repeated as often as necessary, advises Healthline.

TENS units may provide instant pain relief. With repeated treatments, the pain relief may be permanent or long-lasting, notes Healthline.

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