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TENS - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Heather Buckley consultation edit

Why is it used and how does it work?

The effects of using TENS in the relief of pain is well documented over the years dating back to 2500 BC when electrogenic fish were applied to painful body parts. More recently since the 1960’s it is believed that electrical stimulation can be used to prevent the passage of pain messages to the brain and to help us to produce the body’s natural pain killers.

The battery device generates a pulsed electrical signal that runs through the electrical pads that are placed onto intact skin at the site of the pain or close to the nerve that supplies the area.

It is widely recommended that a practitioner experienced in the use of TENS provides advice prior to the use of a TENS machine.

We have found that it can provide patients with a safe non -invasive form of pain relief for many types of pain.

What does it feel like?

TENS can feel like a buzzing tingling or pulsing sensation when used correctly should not be unpleasant or uncomfortable.

Does TENS have any side effects?

Side effects are rare that is why TENS is considered as a safe form of treatment.

Although the electrodes are latex free very occasionally there have been reports of skin irritation therefore we encourage patients to regularly monitor their skin.

Very occasionally patients may report that the TENS has aggravated their pain.

Is there anybody that can’t use a TENS?

We do NOT recommend TENS for the patients with the following:

  • A cardiac pacemaker or dorsal column stimulator.
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy(other than in labour under the supervision of a midwife)
  • Tumour or suspected cancer that is being treated
  • Severe angina or severe irregular heart rhythm
  • Broken or damaged skin (including recent or recurrent bleeding/poor circulation/thrombosis)
  • Skin which has no sensation (although the practitioner may be able to suggest alternate positioning of electrodes)

How do I arrange a trial of TENS?

Once you have been seen in the pain management clinic a plan of care will be agreed with you and your health care professional. The appointment will be arranged in a nurse-led clinic for a trial of the TENS machine along with advice on how and where to place the electrodes to give you the best possible result. We are usually able to provide you with a loan machine for a period of a month after which you may choose to purchase your own machine.

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