TENS Machine Physiotherapy
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.
TENS is also called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Transcutaneous means “across the skin”. In simple terms, a tens machine stimulate 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 or healthcare practitioner. Your health practitioner should always be consulted before using a TENS machine.
TENS Machine provides 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.
TENS machine or EMS electrodes should NEVER be placed:
- Across your eyes (intraocular pressure) or brain.
- On the front of your neck due to the risk of acute hypotension (through a vasovagal reflex) or even a laryngospasm.
- Through the chest (using a front and rear of chest wall electrode positions). Either side of your spinal column is permitted.
- Across an artificial cardiac pacemaker (or another indwelling stimulator, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), including across its leads) due to a risk of interference and failure of the implanted device. Serious accidents have been recorded in cases when this principle was not observed.
- On open wounds or broken skin areas (although it can be placed around wounds.
- Over a malignant tumour (based on experiments where electricity promotes cell growth).
- Directly over the spinal column (although it can be placed either side of your spinal column).
- Over mucosal membranes or internally, except for specific applications of dental, vaginal, and anal stimulation that employ specialised TENS units.
- Head or neck of stroke or epilepsy patients.
- Pregnant uterus.
- On areas of numb skin/decreased sensation TENS should be used with caution because it’s likely less effective due to nerve damage. It may also cause skin irritation due to the inability to feel currents until they are too high.
- Areas of Infection. There’s an unknown level of risk when placing electrodes over an infection (possible spreading due to muscle contractions). Cross contamination with the electrodes themselves is of greater concern eg dermatological conditions.