TENS TIPS Newsletter
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What is TENS?


What is TENS?

TENS is the Abbreviation for transcutaneous (through the skin) electrical nerve stimulation-a medical method of reducing or eliminating pain without drugs.

TENS equipment consists of a battery powered stimulator (about the size of a cigarette pack), lead wires, and two or more electrodes which adhere to the skin. By adjusting the control knobs on the stimulator, the patient is able to start or stop the electrical impulses and can vary the length and intensity of each impulse.

The current, which produces a mild, tingling sensation, travels from the stimulator through the lead wires to the electrodes, which are placed over the nerves leading to the painful area. The exact electrode placement may be anywhere along this path, but often one pair of electrodes is located at the pain site, while a second pair is placed near the spine, where the nerve pathway connects to the spinal cord.

As the current passes through the skin and "stimulates" the nerve pathway, the pain signal traveling along the nerve is effectively blocked or altered before reaching the brain. The reduction of pain may last several hours after TENS treatment.



When was TENS discovered?

Although ancient writers refer to the use of electrical eels in treating pain, TENS first received serious consideration from the medical community in the 1960ís.

At that time, surgeons began implanting electrodes in back-pain sufferers. The doctors soon discovered that electrodes placed on the skin produced similar pain relief. A few years later, the first commercial TENS unit was introduced.

TENS is now widely used by healthcare professionals whose primary job is to treat pain patients, such as physicians specializing in

sports medicine and physical therapists treating chronic pain suffers.

How does TENS work?

The exact mechanism for TENS is not known, not unlike aspirin. Some scientists believe that the electrical impulses override the pain message traveling along the nerve pathway to the brain. Others theorize that the current triggers the brain to release its own pain relieving chemicals. Recent studies indicate that both of these theories are probably involved, plus several others.



Where is TENS available?

TENS is available only by a doctor's prescription through most pain control clinics, many hospital physical therapy departments, and private-practice physicians.

How effective is TENS?

TENS has been used to control chronic and acute pain in a wide variety of cases. These include back and neck injuries, joint injuries, pulled muscles, arthritis, migraine headaches, labor and delivery, and postoperative recovery.

The success of TENS depends, in part, on how easily the nerve pathways carrying the painful signals to the brain can be identified, and how accessible they are for placing the electrodes. Patient attitude and clinical history also play an important part. That is why patients must undergo a thorough examination by a knowledgeable clinician before TENS treatment can begin.


CPR Medical, specializing in:


TENS Units


Microcurrent (MENS)


Muscle Stimulators


Galvanic Stimulators


Interferential Stimulators


Electrodes and
Related Supplies

TENS tips is dedicated to updating you on product, pricing, and policy practices in the electromedical field.  We appreciate your interest in reading this publication.  Should you have any questions or suggestions, we welcome your input.


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