What is a TENS unit and does it work?

The TENS unit sends stimulating pulses along nerve strands and interferes with nerve signals to the brain. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.

TENS - Image of a lightning bolt against a dark blue sky

Using a TENS unit will help your body produce more natural painkillers in response to pain, as well as stopping some pain signals from reaching the brain.  Several studies have been done and it is generally agreed that use of TENS provides pain relief but researchers disagree on what conditions it is apt to help and to what degree (because nobody anywhere can agree with anybody anywhere on anything at all).

To use a TENS unit, you apply electrodes to your skin which are attached to the unit (a box) with wires, plug the unit into an electrical outlet and switch it on to receive electrical impulses.

Anecdote:  One of my cousins introduced me to TENS because she figures it saved her life.  TENS doesn’t cure any condition; it is a pain-relief device.  My cousin’s pain was so great that she considered suicide as a way out.  She claims that TENS was so effective for her that she was able to abandon that plan.  She has since received other treatments that have eased the conditions but keeps her TENS on standby.  Her TENS unit cost about $30 from Amazon.

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