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What are the TENS Machine?

What are the TENS Machine?
Issue Time:2019-11-05
What is a TENS Machine?
TENS is an abbreviation of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.

Transcutaneous means "across the skin". In simple terms, a tens machine stimulates your nerves via an electrical current through your skin.

A TENS machine is an electronic medical device. A TENS machine may assist you in modest short-term pain relief.

The use of a TENS machine should be as one part of a pain management program under the guidance of your doctor/healthcare practitioner. 
How does a TENS Machine provide Short-term Pain Relief?
Pain is thought to be controlled by TENS in one of two ways:

Sensory Level Stimulation - The Gate Control theory of pain means that the electrical input of the TENS machine interferes with the transmission of pain signals, by blocking the neural “gate” through which the pain travels.

Motor Level Stimulation - The goal of motor level stimulation is to cause the release of the body’s own opiate-like substances to achieve pain relief.
How to Use a TENS Machine?
IMPORTANT
Use only as directed. A TENS machine and EMS machine are electronic medical devices.  Always read the label and instruction manual. A TENS machine may assist you in modest short-term pain relief. Consult your doctor/healthcare professional prior to use and if symptoms persist. 

How to Use a TENS Machine 
A TENS machine can be applied in the following ways: 

Sensory Level Stimulation
Referred to as “conventional” TENS or “high rate” TENS.

High pulse frequency; short pulse duration.
TENS machine goal is to stimulate cutaneous afferents Aß (large diameter).
Pain is generally eased/relieved while the TENS machine is in use.
Pain tends to return upon ending treatment with the TENS machine.
Commonly used for acute or chronic pain.
Motor Level Stimulation
Referred to as “acupuncture-like” TENS or “strong low rate” TENS.

Low pulse frequency; long pulse duration.
TENS machine goal is to cause muscular twitches, thereby leading to the stimulation of muscle afferents (small diameter).
Pain is generally eased/relieved for many hours after the device is shut off.
Commonly used for the treatment of chronic pain.
Blended Sensory & Motor Level Stimulation
“Brief intense” TENS. As the name suggests, there is a blend of both motor and sensory level stimulation.

High pulse frequency; long pulse duration.
TENS machine goal is to stimulate small diameter cutaneous afferents.
Generally implemented while a painful technique is carried out (e.g., minor surgery) 
“Burst mode” TENS - this method uses “pulse trains” or “bursts” of pulses.
Pain is generally eased/relieved for many hours after the intervention