Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

TENS, which is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, is an electrical therapy technique for the easing of pain in the body. The TENS units have a series of wired pads which are connected to the unit itself and through these pads, a modulated pulsed frequency at a frequency above 50 Hertz. However when this pulse is sent through the pads and into the body, it is done just below one’s muscle contractions otherwise the muscles would contract with each other. Furthermore, it can also send the pulses at low frequencies below 10 Hertz and at an intensity strong enough to cause muscle contractions depending on the type of treatment you are in need of.

This is considered to be a very safe, non-invasive way of reducing one’s pain irregardless of whether it is considered to be chronic or acute. Of course just like any form of treatment out there, there will always be some form of controversy brought on by disbelievers or those who have never even tried it. However, many trials and tests have been performed over the years to show that TENS is an effective treatment for the ease of pain. Matter of fact, it is not uncommon for one to be prescribed this form of treatment after going through surgery or while dealing with chronic musculoskeletal pain or osteoarthritis. On the other hand though, while TENS has continuously shown good results for general pains, it has been shown unproductive for the ease of neck pains.


The way that TENS works, is that as the higher and lower frequency treatments are performed, the electrical pulses of the treatment causes the opioid receptors, which are part of your central nervous system, to activate and help to ease the pain. In particular, the high frequencies activate the delta-opioid receptors which are found in both the medulla as well as the spinal cord.

On the other side, the lower frequency pulses activate the mu-opioid receptors in the medulla and spinal cord. As a result, the neurons in the central nervous system are relaxed and at the same time so too is the pain. Furthermore, while these receptors are being activated, the body is also releasing serotonin as well as analgesia into the body.

It is important to keep in mind, that while the TENS system was developed as a means of reducing and alleviating pain caused by nerve damage, it may work for some, but for others it can have absolutely no effect at all. The reasons for this has been studied and shown to be related to one’s pain threshold. A person having a higher pain threshold is less likely to have any positive benefits from undergoing TENS treatments.