What is a TENS Unit Used For Really?

If after reading the title of this blog post you have a feeling of complete cluelessness you are definitely not alone here. When I got this topic under my nose and visited the web page that’s selling these devices I still had no idea what it is or what it is doing so I’ve started to do some research and will explain you in easy layman terms what a TENS unit is for, what the letters actually mean, and anything else that’s important enough to mention.

A Nerve Stimulator is What It is

We might even review a few TENS units once you understand what it is and what it can do. So let’s start with the meaning first: TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, well that’s a mouth full and after reading that a few times I have to search the first word in Google as I have no idea what transcutaneous means.

According to Google: existing, applied, or measured across the depth of the skin.

Okay so we’re getting one step closer, it’s a device that measures and stimulates the nerves under your skin. Why that is needed we don’t know yet but I expect an answer to that question very soon. I just hope it doesn’t electrocute you, same like when you hit that special nerve in your elbow. Nah I’m just kidding around here, we’ll get into it right now.

What Does This TENS Thing Do?

According to Free Your Spine (a site that mostly blogs about back pain, and ways to relieve it) I found the following description:

The purpose of the TENS unit is to send a low-voltage electrical current to a specific body part, which is believed to help block pain signals from being sent to the brain, eliminating pain.

I happen to know the owner of this website and he has some injuries himself from his kickboxing career so I bet he tried multiple of those devices to deal with his neck and upper back pain so I have full faith in his reviews.

Based on the first review I’m reading it typically takes 5 to 60 minutes for a single treatment with a TENS unit, but if you’re just starting I suggest you just start with the lowest setting (there are 25 settings to choose from, and set it at 5 minutes), and then just wait an hour or so to see if it has any influence on your pain or not, heck the pain might even get worse if you use it the wrong way or maybe I’m just paranoid about it.

Some TENS units have multiple features like an EMS massage technique for muscle conditioning and recovery

So How Does it Actually Work?

As said, it sends low-voltage electrical shocks to your body and those get delivered through pads that you place at the area where it hurts. That all sounds easy enough right? Then it’s just a matter of setting the intensity and the time interval and with a little luck, the unit saves your settings so that you don’t have to do it all over again.

It looks a little complicated at first but because of the auto-saving you only have to go through this once and be set for life.

Finally, Does it Really Work Or is it a Bunch of Hype

The opinions appear to be rather divided on this front, some blogs say it’s just a placebo effect that gives you a tingling sensation while the unit is at work. Others say the benefits are minor and brief so I can’t say I’m fully convinced about effectively reducing pain with these type of units, unless you leave them on 24/7 but I don’t think it can be healthy to send electrical impulses to your body all day and night so at this point it doesn’t have my vote. Once I get more information I will write a new post on it or update the current one so stay tuned for part two.