Transcutaneous Neuromuscular StimulationA TENS (transcutaneous neuromuscular stimulation) machine is a small portable, battery-operated device which is worn on the body and used successfully to relieve nerve pain thus avoiding or reducing the reliance of medication. Small electrical pulses are transmitted to the body, like little electric shocks, via adhesive pads positioned on your skin, at selected points. The great advantage of TENS is that it is well tolerated and largely without side-effects.

TNS is often used for people with chronic pain or pain that is untreatable for whatever reason so they have to live with it. It often helps them manage their pain with less medication therefore reducing the side effects from medication. People with acute nerve pain like sciatica also benefit greatly to help manage their intense pain.

How does TENS work?

Transcutaneous means through the skin. TENS machines deliver small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. TENS machines are thought to affect the way pain signals are sent to the brain. Pain signals reach the brain via nerves and the spinal cord. If pain signals can be blocked by the tiny electrical shocks from the TENS machine, then the brain will receive fewer signals from the source of the pain. 
TENS machines are thought to work in two ways:

  • On a high pulse rate of 90-130 Hz (the normal method of use), the electrical impulses generated by the TENS machine interfere with and block pain messages sent to the brain. This is due to the gate control theory of pain. This proposes that there is a gate mechanism in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord nerves). When the gate is open, pain messages get through to the brain, and we feel pain. When the gate is closed, these pain messages are blocked and we do not feel pain. TENS machines are thought to stimulate certain non-pain-carrying nerves and close the gate. In effect, the brain is busy dealing with the messages it receives quickly from the TENS machine, rather than the slower (more painful) pain signals that the body is receiving from elsewhere. It explains why, if you injure yourself, rubbing that area can temporarily reduce the pain.


  • When the machine is set on a low pulse rate (2-5 Hz) it stimulates the body to make its own pain-easing chemicals called endorphins. These act a bit like morphine to block pain signals.

Please contact us at PHYSIO4U on 0725 010511 if you think this machine could be of help. We have several machines to loan if you would like to see if it is of any benefit to you before purchasing one.