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TENS for Pain…
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TENS for Pain Management

February 25, 2020

It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans have a condition associated with pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy involves the use of low-voltage electric currents to treat pain.


TENS therapy treats both chronic and acute pain associated with common painful conditions including:

  • Post-surgical pain
  • Osteoporosis or fibromyalgia joint, bone, or muscle pain
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Neck and back pain
  • Diabetic neuropathy


Pain travels through the body via nerve pathways from the site of the pain to the spinal cord and from the spine to the brain. Once this pathway is open and the brain continues to receive painful messages, the pain process can become super sensitive even after the cause of the original pain is gone because the brain is programmed for continuous chronic pain. The longer people suffer with chronic pain, the more difficult it is to treat. That is why so many people continue to seek stronger and different pain medications.


TENS is a nonpharmacological intervention used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions. Electrodes are placed on the body at the site of pain to stimulate the underlying nerve pathways. The TENS unit has a small hand-held box with adjustable settings that allows the patient to control the intensity of electric stimulation. These frequencies interrupt the transmission of pain messages from the spinal cord to the brain.


TENS devices have been shown to release endorphins, natural painkillers, through the electrical stimulation. Along with using a TENS unit, exercise is a powerful pain fighter. By exercising, the brain releases endorphins to help desensitize pain feelings.


To manage pain at home, patients may receive a small, battery-operated TENS machine. A DOC pain management physician or physical therapist will adjust the machine to the correct settings and show the guest how to use the machine before sending him or her home with the TENS device.


For Ali, a recent DOC guest for pain management care after two serious automobile accidents, the TENS treatment was successful and her physical therapist, Kaitlyn Rios, equipped Ali with a TENS machine to use at home. Ali describes her experience: “I have no pain now.Kaitlyn is a miracle worker. I did not put much thought into PT before I experienced the benefits. Now I can walk farther than ever before. I recommend DOC to others every chance I get. Absolutely go and get checked out. Be open minded to treatment, even physical therapy,” which included her TENS treatment.

For more information on the cost of care, click here.


Cleveland Clinic

Tens Unit

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