Frequently Asked Questions
What is TENS?
TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit generates electrical impulses that are sent through electrodes placed on the skin over nerve centers. The various pulses employed by TENS can block pain signals normally sent to the brain through nerve fibers, thereby interrupting the brain's awareness of pain. A TENS unit may activate the release of endorphins. These are chemicals in the control system used by the body to suppress pain naturally. The use of TENS usually improves pain management significantly. TENS units are safe, non-invasive, drug free, non-addictive and have no side effects. TENS can reduce the need for pain narcotics and drugs. Federal law restricts these devices to sale by or on the order of a physician. TENS is a FDA regulated non-narcotic pain relief device.
How does TENS work?
TENS works by two different methods. High frequency TENS, is based on the theory that continuous mild electrical activity blocks the pain signal traveling to the brain. If the pain signal does not get through to the brain, the pain is not "felt". The second way TENS works is by stimulating the body's own natural pain-control mechanism. Low frequency or short bursts of electrical activity causes the body to release its own pain relieving substances, called endorphins.
How does Interferential therapy differ from TENS?
Interferential differs from conventional Neuromuscular stimulation and TENS in that it delivers concentrated stimulation deep into the affected tissue. Interferential exploits the interference of two separately generated sinusoidal currents applied to the body simultaneously. It is a low frequency current treatment that uses two medium frequency currents which "interfere" with each other to produce a beat frequency that the body recognizes as a low frequency energy source. The range of this frequency is usually 1-250 Hz. The body itself produces low frequency currents between 1 and 256 Hz. These currents are produced across the cell membranes by ionic exchange, and they will vary depending upon the tissue involved. By using frequencies in this range, different systems within the body can be stimulated.
How does a TENS differ from a Muscle Stimulator?
TENS is designed to help relieve certain types of chronic and acute pain. A Muscle Stimulator is used for muscle re-education and rehabilitation, increasing motion restricted from disuse or atrophy, and for increasing local blood circulation.
What are the recommended placements for electrodes?
While your doctor or healthcare professional can best advise you of placement for your individual treatment, below is an electrode placement chart that can be used as a good place to start. Remember: Never place electrodes on the front of the throat as spasm of the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscle may occur. Never place electrodes on your head or at any sites that may cause the electrical current to flow transcerebrally (through the head).
Electrode Placement Chart