TENS is an abbreviation for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS machines stimulate the nerves by applying a mild electric current through the skin as part of a wide variety of therapies for alleviating nerve pain. TENS is also an important tool in strengthening weak muscles through EMS (Electric Muscle Stimulation). Trained and licensed medical practitioners should always be present during a TENS therapy session.
How TENS provides pain relief as part of pain management therapy
TENS controls pain in two distinct ways:
- Motor level stimulation - By applying a mild current to the patient leading to the release of endorphins, the machine optimizes the body's ability to alleviate pain by itself.
- Sensory level stimulation - The objective of this kind of electrical stimulation relies in the Gate Control theory. By interfering with the body's electrical impulses that relay the sensation of pain, TENS reduces its severity and duration.
How the TENS machine contributes to EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation)
TENS optimizes muscle strength in the following two ways:
- The first way is recruitment of dormant muscle fibres during maximal contraction. Using TENS machines to achieve EMS, the dormant muscular fibres that do not contract get recruited, optimizing overall muscular strength.
- The second way is recruitment of the fastest nerve pathways to muscular stimulation. Through EMS, the brain learns via repetition and optimization which is the quickest pathway to stimulate certain muscles, thus improving neurological input in muscular strength exercises.
How to use the TENS machine
The TENS device normally works best on certain areas of the body. The most common areas that induce the best results for pain relief are the lower back, the back of the neck, the thighs, and around the calf and Achilles tendon. TENS also works well on jointed areas around the elbows, the wrists, the shoulders, and the knees.
However, TENS machines should never be used around the eyes, brain and chest regions due to risk of cardiac nerve interference. Additionally, using TENS near any heart implants, around malignant tumors, the pregnant uterus, areas of infection, or near stroke and epilepsy patients poses a serious health risk.
Benefits of using the TENS machine
Through electrical stimulation of nerves and muscle fibres, TENS machines alleviate back pain, dental pain, joint pain, and optimize muscular strength in post-operative and sports-related environments. The TENS machine also alleviates pain that is associated with diseases such as osteoarthritis and gout-related inflammation.
You can purchase TENS machines through professional companies that provide medical equipment, like First Aid Kits Australia.