The TENS device is a non-invasive, battery-powered device that produces short and intense electrical pulses in the body. It has been proven to reduce pain, stress and even reverse some of the effects of aging. The concept of applying low-level electrical impulses to the skin goes back at least 2021 years. During those years, it was discovered that when the skin’s pain sensors are stimulated, it releases hormones that reduce inflammation. In the study published by researchers at the University of Glasgow in the European Journal of Pain Medicine, it was shown that the soothing, beneficial effect of TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) could be applied to chronic pain conditions in both animal and human subjects.
How does a TENS device work? An electrode is placed on a healthy body area, and contact electrodes deliver a series of brief pulses of charge to the area. The continuous delivery of small electrical pulses causes the nerves to send signals to the brain. This allows for the release of natural chemicals such as endorphins. These natural chemicals not only relieve the pain they also stimulate the immune system and improve overall health.
Many professional therapists say that the pain relief experienced through the use of the TENS device far outweighs that obtained from other pain relief methods. However, not everyone agrees with these statements. One of the most vocal critics of TENS is Dr Michael Gruneborg, a professor at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, who states, “TENS therapy delivers relief for some patients but not all. Furthermore, I see no evidence that TENS reduces pain without serious adverse side effects.”
According to the study conducted by the Glasgow research team, the effectiveness of TENS was tested on ten subjects with chronic pain conditions. Among these individuals, four had electrodes installed on their skin while the other six did not. All the subjects were then monitored for changes in physiological parameters and psychological symptoms related to pain. The results showed that the subjects receiving stimulation through the TENS device were experiencing less pain and swelling.
Dr Gruneborg believes that the reason for the success of the TENS device lies in the delivery of stimulating pulses along with the natural frequencies of human skin. The frequencies produced by the skin can be easily manipulated by the patient or, in the case of wireless TENS, the therapists. Furthermore, the actual stimulation takes place when the skin’s surface is touched. Thus, unlike other types of electrical stimulation, the skin is not harmed. Furthermore, the electrodes are attached directly to the skin, thus avoiding unnecessary trauma to the skin.
The Glasgow researchers believe that more research needs to be done to understand the benefits and risks of using TENS device fully. In addition, they believe more studies should be done on elderly subjects to determine if there might also be benefits in reducing chronic pain and reducing fatigue. However, for now, they recommend that everyone try out transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to alleviate discomfort and get relief from chronic pain.