TENS - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulations
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulations (TENS) are safe non-invasive, drug-free methods of pain management. TENS is currently one of the most commonly used forms of electro- analgesia.The TENS device relieves pain by sending small electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the skin to underlying nerve fibers. TENS works by two different mechanisms:
- First, electrical stimulation of the nerve fibers can block a pain signal from being carried to the brain. If the signal is blocked, pain is not perceived.
- Secondly, the body has its own mechanism for suppressing pain. It does this by releasing natural compounds called endorphins which act as analgesics.
By effectively managing pain without drugs, TENS allows many people with chronic pain conditions, to resume normal daily activity. TENS has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of acute and chronic pain caused by pain related medical conditions. When TENS is used as an analgesic, patients are instructed to try different frequencies and intensities to find those that provide them with the best pain control. Optimal settings of stimulus parameters are subjective and are determined by trial and error. Electrode positioning is quite important. Electrodes are initially placed on the skin over the painful area, but other locations may give comparable or even better pain relief such as:
- over cutaneous nerves
- trigger points
- acupuncture sites
Patient comfort is a very important determinant of compliance and consequently the overall success of treatment. The intensity of the impulse is a function of pulse duration and amplitude. Greater pulse widths tend to be more painful.The amount of output current depends on the combined impedance of the electrodes, skin, and tissues.
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