Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a well
known way of controlling pain. It works by applying electrodes
to the body at specific points through which electrical impulses
are delivered. These impulses block the pain messages sent
to the brain by increasing the making of endorphins, the body’s
natural painkillers, which are quicker in spreading than pain
This device is extremely recommended
where chronic pain conditions are present, mainly of the lower
back when sciatica, arthritis, lumbago and strains and sprains
have occurred. They are safe for long-term use, with no side-effects
and can help lower or remove the need for analgesic medications.
Always seek advice from your
midwife before using a device if pregnant, ask your midwife
or GP for suggested uses of a TENS machine. How effective
they are varies from person to person, depending on their
sensitivity to pain and their expected outcomes.
Devices either come with three
or four electrodes, and where the electrodes are placed can
be changed between different users. You may need to experiment
a little with the electrodes by trying them in different areas
before a suitable result is gained.
It takes approximately one
hour of use before the maximum benefit is experienced, a point
which should be considered if you’re thinking about
using it before trying to sleep. The use of a TENS machine
is not recommended when the person has a pacemaker fitted
and you should seek advice if epilepsy has been diagnosed.
You should NEVER apply the
electrode pads to areas where there is broken skin or where
there is a rash. The adhesive gel on the pads may aggravate
symptoms. TENS machines should not be used where there is
water present for obvious safety reasons.
Where Can a TENS
Machine be Bought?
Before purchasing a TENS machine,
it is recommended that a machine is first hired to establish
whether this therapy is beneficial to the sufferer. Your GP,
Orthopaedic Specialist, Physiotherapist or pain team should
be able to tell you where these machines can be hired from.
Many NHS Trusts rent them out to users at a low cost, sometimes
there is no charge, depending on circumstances.
There are many retailers that
sell TENS machines
The price can also reflect
the size and the controls on the machine. If the user is intending
on being extremely active whilst using the device, a small
portable machine will be more beneficial. Some machines come
with buttons, others with dials; it is the persons own choice
as to which they prefer and can control most easily.
When you go to purchase a
machine, take a letter from your GP recommending a device
is purchased for you as some retailers offer discounts to
The use of TENS machines have been suggested by healthcare
professionals for many years. If the user sticks to it and
tries changing the place of the electrodes, a person can benefit
greatly by using this equipment.