For thousands of years, people have known that electrical stimulation can provide pain relief. A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device is a small, portable machine that generates adjustable levels of electricity to block nerve signals in those experiencing pain.
What does it involve?
A TENS is a small machine that attaches to the surface of the skin using electrodes. When it is switched on, the TENS generates electricity that penetrates into the body. The intensity of the electricity is adjustable. At the most effective setting, the TENS machine is painless and produces a mild ticklish sensation.
TENS machines are believed to work by interfering with pain signals. The electricity prevents the nerves from carrying pain messages to the brain.
TENS machines may be used as part of physical therapy for endometriosis.
TENS units come in many varieties. Some are so small they can be worn clipped to a belt.
Place electrodes on clean, dry skin. Reposition the electrodes periodically to prevent skin irritation.
Do not wear your TENS unit while bathing, driving, or sleeping. Do not place the electrodes near your eyes, at your temples, or on opposite sides of your head.
TENS machines can reduce or stop pain in the affected area while you are using the machine.
In a small study completed in 2015, 22 women with deep endometriosis tried TENS units for pelvic pain. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that TENS application provided significant improvements in pain and quality of life.
TENS machines are not appropriate for pregnant women or those with heart problems.
TENS machines reduce or block pain only while you are using the machine.
It may require time and effort to find a comfortable and effective setting on the TENS unit.
Insurance may not pay for a TENS machine.
If used at too high a setting, the TENS machine may cause muscle twitching, pain, and soreness after use. If worn for a long time, especially at a high setting, the electrodes may cause skin irritation.