Buzzy, Tingly, and Weird: What IS a TENS Machine, Really?

TENS machines feel weird.  Usually they create a buzzing, or tingling sensation to the skin, and they may even cause muscle twitching.  So why do we sometimes use them? 

These hand-held machines are commonly used to treat pain, both in clinics and at home.  TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which means the machines transmit electricity through the skin to stimulate your nerves.  The idea is that by stimulating the nerves under your skin with the buzzing, tingling sensation created by the electrical current, this sensation distracts your brain from feeling pain.  And then hopefully this pain relief lasts for awhile after the TENS is removed.  

So it's like a brain trick.  Still weird!  But it does work to relieve pain, and that's why our therapists often recommend it.

Is TENS a quick-fix for your condition?  Likely not on its own.  At River East Physiotherapy here in Winnipeg, we know that recovery from injury usually requires a combination of therapy approaches.  Treatment plans are always customized to a client's unique medical history and their condition.  Treatment plans could include, for example, a combination of hands-on treatment, TENS, an exercise program, education on how to manage at home, and dry needling. 

We know from our extensive training, experience, and research that clients tend to recover more effectively when we use a combination of treatments together.  Not from just TENS alone.

Want to learn more about TENS?  Here is our clinic's comprehensive Guide to TENS - everything you need to know about how TENS works, what to use it for, how to use it, and when to avoid it.  

Still not sure?  Give us a call to book a free, 15-minute consultation with a physiotherapist, and explore whether TENS might be right for your unique treatment plan.