Proven Effectiveness of TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
TENS—known officially as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation—is a non-invasive, nonpharmacologic way of treating pain. This powerful therapy can be applied at one’s own convenience for pain relief that works fast anytime. The effectiveness of TENS has been tested and questioned extensively over recent years. Clinical trials continue to prove that TENS is a reliable and successful way of treating chronic and acute pain. Here is some of what we have learned from recent trials and studies.
TENS Reduces Hyperalgesia
There are many serious reasons why using prescription painkillers like opiods can be dangerous. In addition to all the potential side effects and their addictive qualities, opioids can also result in hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia is an extraordinary sensitivity to pain, usually caused by damaged nociceptors (a receptor for pain) or peripheral nerves.
Unfortunately, some patients who are using opioids to treat their pain may end up experiencing even more pain as a result because of hyperalgesia. However, multiple studies have shown that TENS can reduce certain types of hyperalgesia.
TENS Effectively Blocks Pain Signals
Many studies have been done on the analgesic effects of TENS. Analgesia—or, the inability to feel pain—is what painkillers hope to achieve. TENS is proven do deliver this relief when applied to targeted areas. Both low-frequency TENS treatment and high-frequency TENS treatment were shown to relieve pain.
Different Waveforms Increase Patient Comfort
Some scientists have wondered whether the various waveforms and patterns available in some TENS machines would change the effectiveness of TENS. As it turns out, all waveforms are just as capable of producing analgesic effects. Patients can select the pattern that feels most comfortable to them and receive the same pain relief.
The Right Intensity is Key
Clinical trials seek not just to prove the effectiveness of TENS, but also to reveal how it is best used. TENS-related studies are consistently showing that patients who use TENS can find pain relief. These studies have also shown that that the patients will get the very most out of their TENS therapy when it is applied at the right intensity level.
TENS is Good for Postoperative Pain
In a recent study by DeSantana et al., TENS was used to treat postoperative pain. The therapy was applied for 30 minutes at a high intensity level soon after the surgery. This treatment caused a major decrease in postoperative pain. The same results have been achieved from other studies, such as one done by Cipriano et al., where TENS was applied for four hours to seriously reduce incisional pain.
TENS Can Treat Musculoskeletal Pain
Musculoskeletal disorders refer to any pain in the musculoskeletal system, including the muscles, the joints, and the tendons. This disorders can include anything from common back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome to tendinitis. Musculoskeletal pain can be chronic or acute, and many adults will suffer for it in one way or another. The effectiveness of TENS in treating pain from musculoskeletal disorders has been proven in multiple studies. Those suffering from pain related to musculoskeletal disorders can receive quick, effective relief from the use of TENS therapy.