What Is A TENS Machine?
TENS is an acronym which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Where the word transcutaneous simply meaning across the skin. A standard portable TENS machine is typically is a small machine around about the size of a pack of cards. This unit has a couple of leads coming of it, connected to patches that adhere to the skin. Via these patches the pass the generated electrical pulses to your body.
- A TENS machine generally operates via a single 9 volt battery. Giving out little pulses of electrical energy, transmitted to your skin via self adhesive pads.
- Most TENS machines have adjustable settings on the control box. This way you can alter the frequency and strength of the pulses as desired.
The use of TENS for pain management in pregnancy and during labour is very common. It is also commonly used in some physiotherapy practices for its pain management priorities. With some physiotherapists administering TENS for pain relief in acute and chronic pain situations.
How Does A TENS Machine Work For Pain Relief?
Generally accepted theories on how a TENS machine works in providing pain relief are:
- The electrical pulses generated by the TENS machine work to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. Working in a similar way, that rubbing you leg after you bump it seems to help with reducing pain. Known as the pain gate theory.
- Also TENS pulses stimulate your body to release its own, natural, feel-good substances, hormones called endorphins.
TENS Machines And Physiotherapy
Personally I do not use TENS in day to day practice in my clinics. However, this is my own personal preference and I am certain there are many physiotherapist who feel they use it with great success on a regular basis. There is significant research advocating the use of TENS for pain relief in physiotherapy. How I utilize a TENS machine is not during a session, but from time to time on a trial basis for patients suffering chronic, or significant pain. Patients looking for non-pharmaceutical ways to manage their pain. In this situation I will sometimes suggest the trail of a TENS machine at home for a period.
I have no doubt that many situations during pregnancy, labour and during the period after birth using a TENS machine may be an appropriate modality of analgesia.
Cheap And Safe: Considering that TENS is a safe and relatively cheap option. There really isn’t anything to lose in trialing a TENS machine as a pain management option.
I feel TENS in some circumstances can operate as a useful tool to help patients feel they have more control over their pain. Helping them feel less anxious, and provide a mild distraction from their pain.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on TENS Machine And Pain Relief should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.