Is the TENS Unit the at Home Solution For You?

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may feel like you've tried everything to get relief. If you don't want to simply rely on pain medication, you could try using a TENS unit. Here's a little information on what a TENS unit does and whether or not you're a good candidate for using one.

What TENS is and How it Works

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It works by sending electrical impulses through your skin to "short out" pain signals in your nerve endings, telling your brain to ignore your pain. It's also believed that the units trigger your body to release its own natural pain relievers, endorphins. The electrical stimulation required to produce endorphins is fairly low, between 2-5Hz, and it can be a safe alternative to pain medication for some people.

Using a TENS Machine

TENS units typically consist of a small box or power source connected to small adhesive pads via wires. The pads are placed strategically near the area of pain and the user controls the electricity that travels to the pads. By adjusting the voltage, you can get the best amount of pain relief for your individual needs.


Not all pain is equal, and what works for one person may not work as well for another. If you don't tolerate pain medication, or if you'd like to try an alternative, natural method of controlling pain, TENS could help. Some people choose to use a TENS machine in addition to pain medications to increase their effect, and others use the machine to lessen the need for the amount of medications taken.

When used properly, under the supervision of your physician or chiropractor, TENS units can provide excellent pain relief with virtually no side effects. They are often used to treat chronic back or musculoskeletal pain, but the units can also be used to treat other painful conditions like migraines.

Who Should and Shouldn't Use a TENS Unit

Because a TENS unit isn't effective for all types of pain, it's a good idea to check with your physician to see if its use is recommended for your pain. Musculoskeletal pain sufferers should consider trying a TENS machine, but it's not likely to help pain from gastrointestinal discomfort or other non-muscle injuries.

Some people should not use a TENS unit to treat pain. They may have problems that could be made worse with the use of the machine. These include:

  • People who have no diagnosis for their pain
  • People with chest pain
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with known heart problems
  • Those with epilepsy

If you'd like to try to manage your pain without the use of pain medication, or if you'd like to try and reduce your pain medication, consider asking your physician if using a TENS unit is right for you.

Call to request a free consultation and see if using a TENS unit could help you find relief from your pain.

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