TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS is a treatment for pain that has been used for many years. It is commonly used by women to relieve the pain of labour, but also has utility in chronic musculoskeletal pain. Modern TENS machines are user-friendly and portable and can be worn comfortably and discreetly.
TENS machines can effectively relieve musculoskeletal pain. They only work when they are worn and turned on. They are therefore perhaps most effective when there is a particular activity (such as shopping, walking or gardening) that predictably provokes pain. If this is the case the TENS machine can be applied prior to undertaking the activity and turned on when pain is anticipated.
There are very few risks with TENS machines. Occasionally the sticky electrodes that are applied to the skin can cause some irritation. If you have a pacemaker or an internal defibrillator then TENS may not be suitable for you. There is an ongoing cost in terms of replacement batteries.
OBTAINING A TENS MACHINE
There are many commercial suppliers of TENS units. You can buy them from most high-street pharmacies. The units with which we are most familiar and which we recommend are supplied by Nidd Valley Medical, and can be purchased by clicking here. They have the benefits of being relatively inexpensive, simple to use and robust. The unit we recommend is called the yorTENS II and is pictured below: