If you’re in the habit of downing multiple bottles of aspirin or ibuprofen a day to help cope with recurring pain, it might be time to consider a better way. Any over-the-counter pain reliever is going to come with side effects when taken on a regular basis, and these pills are just one option in a sea of pain relief solutions. One of the most exciting developments in pain relief technology is the method known as TENS therapy. 

What is TENS Therapy?

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, but that’s just a scientific way of saying that it massages your muscles through the application of electrical currents. A TENS pain relief device will typically take the form of a handheld wand that you can apply to sensitive areas yourself.

There are some clear practical advantages here that are apparent without even having to dig deeper. A TENS pen can fit comfortably in your pocket as well as a gym, medical bag, or purse – and they aren’t disposable in the way that pills are. All you have to do is periodically change out the battery to keep it working at full efficiency.

Who Can Benefit From TENS Therapy?

The exciting thing about TENS therapy is that it’s equally well suited for both chronic and intermittent pain. Whether you just want something to offer relief outside the gym or you need something to deal with recurring pain from spending every day typing, TENS offers a solution that can be used either on its own or as a supplement to an existing pain regimen. 

And while you could reasonably transition entirely away from medications, that’s something you should always consult with your doctor about. TENS therapy is completely safe to use, and while the results surrounding its efficacy aren’t completely conclusive, it’s recommended for treating everything from osteoporosis to tendinitis to period cramps.

Why is TENS Effective?

While researchers are still looking into the specific reasons why TENS works to relieve pain, there’s some general consensus that it’s the stimulation of electricity that triggers a response in the human body. Some believe that TENS blocks the endorphins which transmit pain signals, while others theorize that TENS stimulates the nerve cells directly to modulate your pain recognition. 

In either case, it’s important to remember that TENS alters your perception of pain, so it won’t get to the root of the problem. Whatever the precise science behind TENS is, it should always be used in conjunction with a medical professional. If at all possible, treating the cause rather than the symptoms should always be a parallel priority when determining pain management options.

Are There Risks Involved?

The amount of electricity delivered through a TENS device is pretty mild, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risk factors. And while most people should be able to use TENS just fine, you should be cautious if you have some existing conditions. Conditions will generally only limit where on your body you can apply TENS.

For instance, you should avoid applying it to parts of your body where you have or suspect you might have cancer. Similarly, pregnant women should avoid applying it to their abdomen, and epileptics should steer clear of any pain at shoulder level or above. Sitting down with a doctor can help you determine if there are any risk factors you should be concerned with – and it will help you develop a sensible and comprehensive plan for pain management.

What Should You Look For?

While large medical devices for performing TENS therapy are often available to physical therapists and doctors, there are also far more convenient portable options that you can take with you. If you want mobile TENS pain relief, be sure to check out the reputation of the brand and look for quality of life features like adjustable intensity settings and battery power.