Hi. Dr. Tim Steflik with Coastal Integrative Healthcare.
Today I’m going to share some information about TENS units – what they are, how they work, and what they’re used for.
TENS is an acronym that stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Transcutaneous means on the surface of the skin or right at that level – it’s not penetrating, deep electrical nerve stimulation.
What it does is stimulate the nerves on the surface of the skin to decrease pain – and that’s its primary purpose. TENS doesn’t correct or fix anything, but it does help patients feel better without the use of harmful medications like opioids or other types of painkillers.
It’s a very useful tool the patient can take home with them. It’s usually about the size of a cassette recorder. If anybody remembers the size of those cassette recorders – you could stick them in your pocket. It has a couple of wires that go to the area with pain.
You can find TENS units in Walgreens, CVS, probably Walmart, and online. Amazon sells TENS units, too.
We carry them in the office, and some insurance carriers pay for them.
We also do another type of therapy called electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS. EMS is different than TENS because it penetrates deeper and actually stimulates the muscles. You can feel the muscles twitch and move. This causes the muscles to relax, and helps control pain.
We have two of these units in the office and we use them on patients who are in pain, and on those who have muscle spasms they need to decrease to feel better.
So, there are two different types of therapy – the TENS unit, which you can take home with you and use on a daily basis – and the EMS for electrical muscle stimulation, which is only used in the office. Some insurances cover EMS and some don’t, but it’s a very useful therapy to help patients feel better.
If you have any questions, leave a comment and we’ll be happy to respond. You could also share it – , pass it on to someone who could find this useful.
We’ll talk to you soon. Thanks.