The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine is an increasingly popular treatment method for people with pain. The machine delivers small electric pulses to your body through electrodes that are placed on your skin.
It is thought that these pulses work in two ways. A low electric pulse can encourage your body to produce more endorphins – the body’s own painkilling chemical. A high electric pulse can also block pain signals going from your painful area to your brain. Many medical studies have been carried out on the use of TENS but the results have been conflicting. Some studies suggest that the machines are of little use, while other studies suggest that they may be able to help certain people.
You should only use a TENS machine under the direction of your GP or other healthcare professional.
The following people should avoid using a TENS machine:
- pregnant women – unless specifically advised to by their doctor
- people with epilepsy
- people who have a pacemaker fitted
- people with a history of heart disease