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Do TENS Machines Work?

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or T.E.N.S., frequently called just TENS is a treatment that uses low voltage electric current for alleviating back pain. This treatment is carried out using a TENS machine, a compact battery operated device. 

The device is connected to a belt, and two electrodes are attached to the belt as well. These electrodes are then attached to the skin, sending low voltage currents to the aching back. 

How does it Work Exactly? 

The TENS treatment has been in use since the early 1960s, when the gate control theory of pain was introduced by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1965. The theory states that TENS sends low-intensity currents to the spinal column, shutting down the “gates” of a sensation of that particular location. So eventually, the patient will not feel pain in that area of his or her back. The TENS therapy involves sending mild current to a particular sector on back; the impulses create a tingling sensation in the nerve fibres. Since electrical impulses block pain signals, the patients undergoing TENS treatment may feel their pain is reduced to an extent. There’s another theory that says nerve stimulation causes the body to produce endorphins, natural painkillers. 

Does it work? 

There’s is limited literature to support how, and if, TENS works. Among the four types of research conducted in recent years, one study compared the effects to be placebo. This study had demonstrated limited different between TENS application and treatment and a mock therapy for back pain. However, despite this study, clinical practice has demonstrated many patients have mentioned relief in back pain after opting for this treatment.

Is it safe? 

Oh yes, TENS uses low voltage electric current, so it is safe if used correctly. Talk to your chiropractor if you are planning to, or want to try it. 

There are some points that you need to keep in mind while using TENS machine: 

  • Talk to your chiropractor and learn how to use it correctly. 
  • Do not use it on broken skin. 
  • Use it only for the intended purpose. 
  • If your skin develops a rash after treatment, and it doesn’t get better after six hours, stop using it. 
  • Don’t drive while undergoing the treatment. 
  • Don’t use it while sleeping. 

For more information contact your Chiropractor


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Do TENS Machines Work?