How to Use a TENS Machine

How to Use a TENS Machine

Depending on the advice of your healthcare practitioner, apply your TENS machine in one the following ways:

Sensory Level Stimulation

This is referred to as “conventional” TENS or “high rate” TENS.

  • High pulse frequency; short pulse duration.
  • TENS machine goal is to stimulate cutaneous afferents Aß (large diameter).
  • Pain is generally eased/relieved while the TENS machine is in use.
  • Pain tends to return upon ending treatment with the TENS machine.
  • Commonly used for acute or chronic pain.

Motor Level Stimulation

Referred to as “acupuncture-like” TENS or “strong low rate” TENS.

  • Low pulse frequency; long pulse duration.
  • TENS machine goal is to cause muscular twitches, thereby leading to the stimulation of muscle afferents (small diameter).
  • Pain is generally eased/relieved for many hours after the device is shut off.
  • Commonly used for the treatment of chronic pain.

Blended Sensory & Motor Level Stimulation

“Brief intense” TENS. As the name suggests, there is a blend of both motor and sensory level stimulation.

  • High pulse frequency; long pulse duration.
  • TENS machine goal is to stimulate small diameter cutaneous afferents.
  • Generally implemented while a painful technique is carried out (e.g., minor surgery)
  • “Burst mode” TENS – this method uses “pulse trains” or “bursts” of pulses.
  • Pain is generally eased/relieved for many hours after intervention

Noxious Level Stimulation

Referred to as “hyperstimulation”.

  • Stimulation is administered through probe-like electrodes.
  • May be used when other TENS methods have failed.
  • Generally viewed as a last resort.
  • This type of stimulation is painful.
  • The desired outcome is pain relief following the stimulation.

TENS Machine FAQs

IMPORTANT

Use only as directed. 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.

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