Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses mild electrical current to treat pain.

Current is delivered through small pieces of material that conduct electricity (electrodes), which are placed on the skin near the source of pain. When the current is delivered, some people experience less pain. This may be because electricity from the electrodes stimulates the nerves in an affected area and sends signals to the brain that "scramble" normal pain signals. Another theory is that the electrical stimulation of the nerve may help the body to produce natural painkillers called endorphins, which may block the perception of pain.

Last Updated: January 20, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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