11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

TENS unit: Benefits, side effects, and research

11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

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A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is a battery-operated device that some people use to treat pain.

TENS units work by delivering small electrical impulses through electrodes that have adhesive pads to attach them to a person’s skin.

These electrical impulses flood the nervous system, reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.

The same electrical impulses also stimulate the body to produce natural pain relievers called endorphins.

In this article, learn more about the uses of a TENS machine and the research on its effectiveness.

Share on PinterestTENS units can help treat and manage pain.

TENS units may help treat the following symptoms:

  • period pain
  • labor pain
  • postoperative pain
  • joint pain
  • neck and back pain

They may also alleviate pain that results from the following conditions:

A TENS unit has controls that allow people to administer an appropriate level of pain relief. People can achieve this by altering the following aspects of the electrical current:

Intensity: A dial allows the user to adjust the intensity of the electrical stimulation.

Frequency: The frequency refers to the number of electrical pulses per second. High-frequency (HF) pulses range from 80 to 120 cycles per second and may help manage acute pain. Low-frequency (LF) pulses range from 1 to 20 cycles per second and are suitable for the treatment of chronic pain.

Duration: The duration is the number of microseconds that the current enters the skin for during each pulse.

TENS is a noninvasive method for relieving pain. People who experience pain relief from TENS may be able to reduce their intake of pain medications, some of which can be addictive or cause adverse side effects.

TENS units are also convenient because they are small, portable, and relatively discrete. People can carry a TENS unit in their pocket or clip it onto a belt to ensure that they have immediate access to pain relief throughout the day.

Share on PinterestIf the adhesive pads cause redness or irritation, hypoallergenic pads are available.

It is safe for most people to use a TENS unit, and they will not usually experience any side effects.

However, the electrical impulses that a TENS unit produces may cause a buzzing, tingling, or prickling sensation, which some people may find uncomfortable.

Some people may be allergic to the adhesive pads. Anyone who experiences skin redness and irritation can switch to using hypoallergenic ones instead.

It is vital never to place the electrodes on either the front of the neck or the eyes. Putting electrodes on the neck can lower blood pressure and cause spasms. On the eyes, the electrodes can increase pressure within the eye and possibly cause an injury.

Although it is safe for most people, experts recommend that some groups of people avoid TENS treatment unless a doctor advises its use.

This recommendation applies to the following people:

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women should avoid using TENS in the abdominal and pelvic regions.
  • People with epilepsy: Applying electrodes to the head or neck of people with epilepsy may induce seizures.
  • People with heart problems.
  • People with a pacemaker or another type of electrical or metal implant.

Due to a lack of high-quality research and clinical trials, researchers have not yet determined whether TENS is a reliable treatment for pain relief.

One study found that TENS treatment provided temporary pain relief for people with fibromyalgia while the machine was in use.

While there is a lack of strong clinical evidence for its effectiveness, TENS is a low-risk pain relief option for many people.

Several factors may influence the effectiveness of TENS:


Research shows that people who use a TENS unit on a daily basis at the same frequency and intensity can develop a tolerance to the treatment.

A person who develops tolerance will no longer feel the same level of pain relief that they did when they first used the unit.

To prevent this from occurring, people can alternate between LF and HF TENS within each treatment session.

Alternatively, they can gradually increase the intensity or duration of TENS on a daily basis.

Stimulation intensity

The range of intensities of the electrical stimulation may account for some of the differences in research findings.

According to a 2014 review, HF TENS treats pain more effectively than LF TENS. In fact, many studies have found LF TENS to be ineffective.

Given that HF TENS is a more effective pain reliever, experts recommend that people apply the highest-intensity TENS that they can tolerate.

Electrode placement

TENS may be more effective if people place the electrodes on acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is a practice that uses needles to stimulate the nerves beneath the skin at specific locations known as acupuncture points. Experts believe that this assists the body in producing endorphins.

One review found some evidence that people who receive TENS through acupuncture points may experience a reduction in pain.

The duration of pain relief after using a TENS unit can vary. Some people report that their pain returns as soon as they switch off the device. Others continue to experience an adequate level of pain relief for up to 24 hours.

A 2012 review suggests that the duration of pain relief increases after repeated TENS treatments. However, this repetition can also increase the lihood of a person building up a tolerance to the treatment.

The research on using a TENS unit for pain relief has so far yielded inconsistent results due to a lack of high-quality scientific studies and clinical trials.

Some research suggests that TENS treatment can relieve pain, but this may be dependent on certain factors, such as the affected area of the body and the treatment intensity. Knowing how these factors affect TENS can help people use it more effectively.

Most people can use a TENS unit safely, and few will experience side effects. However, it is best to speak to a doctor before trying TENS either as an alternative treatment or in combination with other methods of pain management.

TENS units are available to purchase at some pharmacies and online.

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323632

TENS Unit – Dual Channel Electro Therapy Pain Relief System from iReliev – Walmart.com

11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

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Electrotherapy Relief for Muscle & Joint PainWhat is TENS?TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) sends low-voltage electrical pulses through the skin to block the body's nerve pathways and stimulate endorphins (the “feel good” chemical in your brain).

Dual Channel Versatility? Independent channel control for left (CH1) & right (CH2) sides? Use one side (2 Pads) or both channels (4 Pads)The iReliev Pain Relief System is a highly portable dual channel Tens device, perfect for home, work or travel.

This prescription-strength system comes complete and provides best in class features, making it ideal for both acute and chronic injuries.8 Pre-set TENS ModesP1-P8 therapy programs vary in pulse width and frequency. Comfortable impulses block acute and chronic pain symptoms.

25 Levels of Output IntensitySimply adjust the intensity output to reduce the perception of pain for welcome relief. TENS Unit – Dual Channel Electro Therapy Pain Relief System from iReliev

Health Concern: Body Aches & Pains;Back Pain

Instructions: . Step 1: Insert 3 AAA batteries, taking care to match up the symbols. Step 2: Connect lead wire cables to device. Step 3: Connect the lead wire pins to the electrodes before applying to the skin. Step 4: Place 2 or 4 electrode pads on your skin.

Step 5: Power On/Select Program/Timer/Intensity Level. Important:. Steps 1-4 should be performed with the device turned off. Once the iRelief® unit has been turned on, do not remove electrodes without first turning off the unit.

“Note: Refer to user manual for proper use”

Manufacturer Part NumberET-1313
Assembled Product Weight0.3 lbs
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)3.00 x 2.00 x 3.50 Inches

Don't just read about this product's features–see for yourself!

  • iReliev® ET-1313 Quick Start Guide
  • iReliev® ET-1313 User Manual

I've been having major shoulder pain and can't get to the chiropractor so investigated electrotherapy. Found this iRelieve Relief System. The box includes batteries, wire cables, electrode pads, travel pad, and control device. In addition a 9 step set up with pictures.

With in 5 minutes I was able to put the electrode pads on my hurt shoulder and start the relief. I sat at my desk and while working I was able to get relief. So excited that I have a portable pain solution that is effective. [This review was collected as part of a promotion.


Written by a customer while visiting ireliev.com

The iReliev dual channel tens work amazing .. my hubby muscule are always hurting him. This came in just time for him to use it. He said he left so amazing that actually has help him so much to not feel pain. ..

his hard the most part where hurt I have say this give great relaxing message & can help all over ur body! It had setting on how to high or low message . .. [This review was collected as part of a promotion.


Written by a customer while visiting ireliev.com

I got this and used it right away on my lower back because I pulled a muscle. It has a timer so you can choose 5, 10 minutes I used it for 10 minutes and I really felt a difference. I will use it again tonight and my pain will be significantly better I definitely love this product [This review was collected as part of a promotion.]

Written by a customer while visiting ireliev.com

I received the iReliev Dual Channel Tens Electrotherapy Pain Relief System for free as long as I left a honest review. I love the four pads instead of the usual two on relief systems. It helps so much better to surround the area that needs relief. The price is very affordable. The tingles are very effective and you don't even know you're wearing it.

It is so relaxing and the next day I feel so much better. I forgot I even had the pain to begin with. With 8 preset modes and 25 different levels of intensity it's getting a massage or therapy for free right at home. I love it. It's very portable and easy to take anywhere. Even comes with a small bag to pack it in.

[This review was collected as part of a promotion.]

Written by a customer while visiting ireliev.com

I just got the IReliev Dual Channel Tens Electrotherapy Pain Relief System in the mail and can't wait to try it tonight. [This review was collected as part of a promotion.]

Written by a customer while visiting ireliev.com

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How TENS Units Help Pain

11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

You’ve been hearing the buzz about “electrotherapy”. TENS is becoming increasingly popular in the realm of pain treatment.

Now, many of these devices are available to purchase over the counter and are made safe for home use.

But do you know how TENS Units help relieve pain? Continue reading to learn what this device does that makes it one of the best choices for an all-natural, opioid free pain relief treatment.

TENS Units, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators, the name says it all. Transcutaneous is defined as “applied across the depth of the skin”. The device uses electrode pads—typically either two or four—as a conductor.

The electrode pads are placed on the skin around the area that is inflicted with pain. Then, the TENS device sends gentle electrical impulses to the electrode pads, which passes them through the skin.

These electrical impulses then stimulate the nerves.

This is the basic function of the TENS unit. The TENS process creates two effects on the body, both demonstrating how TENS helps pain.

Gate Control Theory

The first effect that TENS therapy has on the body can be explained by the Gate Control Theory. This theory suggests that non-painful nerve signals will block painful nerve signals. The non-painful signals “close the gate” and prevent the pain signals from going to the brain. For example, imagine that these pain signals are two trains on separate tracks.

Each of these two tracks converge into one single track that goes to the brain. The train on the right is the pain signal, and it’s headed for the single track to the brain.

But, when the non-painful signal is stimulated, the train on the left heads for that same track to the brain, taking over the single track to the brain, and blocking the painful signals from getting through to the brain.

When TENS stimulates the nerve endings, it replaces the “pain train” with pleasant, tingling sensations. This massage- therapy can be used to treat pain as soon as it shows up. TENS has been used to help with many different ailments in this way, including lower or upper back pain, shoulder and neck pain, and even pain associated with carpal tunnel.

Releases Endorphins…The Body’s Feel Good Chemical

The second effect that TENS therapy does which helps combat pain is it Releases Endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller. When released, endorphins create a relaxed, pain-free state of mind, the painkilling qualities of morphine. Endorphins, along with the stimulated nerve endings, prevent the pain signals from travelling to the brain.

TENS therapy can be used daily, and even multiple times a day. The frequency of application depends on the individual’s pain management needs. Because so many TENS units are now small and portable, they can be used on the go or at home, at work, or even before bed.

The quality of living can be greatly affected by pain. Sometimes, to prevent straining an already-injured muscle, you can hurt another.

Using TENS to manage pain allows patients with chronic or acute pain to return to a more normal quality of life.

It’s not just important to learn how TENS helps relieve pain, but it’s important to realize how much pain can affect the way you live and how to take control of the pain before it takes control of you.

Source: https://ireliev.com/tens-units-help-pain/

Equate TENS & EMS Pain Therapy – Walmart.com

11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

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Ease tension and give your feet some much-needed relief with Equate TENS & EMS Pain Therapy. This set of electrodes provides easy, effective and safe pain relief from lower limb pain, chronic intractable pain, sore muscles from work, exercise or household activities, being on your feet all day, and arthritis.

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a safe, non-invasive, drug free method of pain relief that delivers low-voltage pulses to the skin to stimulate nerve fibers, effectively blocking the pain signals being sent to your brain.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electrical impulses, often used as a method of strength training and rehab. With this innovative device, you can reap the benefits of both these technologies from the comfort of your own home. It is easy to use by yourself and can be carried along anywhere.

The different modes and timer settings ensure that you remain in control of your own treatment. With proper usage of Equate TENS & EMS Pain Therapy, you will soon experience the difference in the pain management of your feet and get one step closer to a more healthy and active life.

Making the right health decisions can be challenging. With a complete range of products and simple solutions, Equate allows you to take care of your family with confidence.

Equate TENS & EMS Pain Therapy:

  • Set of electrodes for relieving foot pain
  • TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) delivers low-voltage pulses to the skin to stimulate nerve fibers and block the flow of pain signals to your brain
  • EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electrical impulses
  • Different modes and timer settings allow you to stay in control of your pain therapy
  • Easy, safe and effective pain relief
  • Portable; for use at home and during travel
  • Set includes pain therapy TENS & EMS device, one pair of Foot Therapy Pads, one pair of Body Pads and spray bottle

Health Concern: Feet Pain

Manufacturer Part Number1055U
Assembled Product Weight0.55 lbs
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)1.50 x 4.72 x 12.60 Inches

I have a lot of neck , back and feet pain. I have tried a lot of meds and home remedies that all failed. I decided to give this a try for the price I figured it wouldn’t work , boy was I surprised !! This works great I recommend this to everyone. At first it seems it hurts but before long you start to feel better. Love this would buy another one if this one stops working .

This tens unit is amazing. I love the foot pads. This is a great quality tens unit. I have two other tens units, I wish they were stronger. The equate tens unit is so strong!! It goes up to 5. I cant get passed 2!! My mom bought hers for 200.00. It has two pair of extra body pads. And the control box is white. Mine was 30.00. And the same control box is black. That's a 170.00 savings.

I was having excruciating foot pain on top of my foot and through the tibialis anterior. Some days I could not walk. This unit has not only gotten me on my feet again, but as of today I have no pain at all after using it for 30 days straight. Read all of the instructions, it is important. BUY THIS today for your foot/leg or muscle pain.

I knew it was a long shot, but wanted to try a tens unit on my feet for peripheral neuropathy. It distracts me from my pain, but does not relieve the pain. This unit works great and does what it is supposed to do.

I used it on my back and d it. Oh, and the small spray bottle that came with it did not spray. I filled it with water and pumped many times, but nothing came out.

No big deal, I just used an old hair spray bottle instead.

Buy this equate ten pain therapy you are going to love it.

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by JlbflaOctober 2, 2019

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1. Yes, the system can be used for leg pains.

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Effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Hyperalgesia and Pain

11 Interesting Uses of TENS Units for Pain Relief & More

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as:

• Of importance

•• Of major importance

1•. Sluka KA. The Neurobiology of pain and foundations for electrical stimulation. In: Robinson AJ, Snyder-Mackler L, editors. Clinical Electrophysiology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Philadelphia: 2008. pp. 107–149.
[• Of importanceA recent review of all the basic science mechanisms underlying TENS] [Google Scholar]

2. Sluka KA, Deacon M, Stibal A, et al. Spinal blockade of opioid receptors prevents the analgesia produced by TENS in arthritic rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999;289:840–846. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

3. Kalra A, Urban MO, Sluka KA. Blockade of opioid receptors in rostral ventral medulla prevents antihyperalgesia produced by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2001;298:257–263. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

4. Sluka KA, Chandran P. Enhanced reduction in hyperalgesia by combined administration of clonidine and TENS. Pain. 2002;100:183–190. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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[• Of importanceThis article shows that there is an increase in serotonin in the spinal cord during low-frequency, but not high-frequency, TENS using microdialysis and high-performance liquid chromatography analysis in an animal model of joint inflammation] [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the importance of afferents from deep tissues in producing the analgesia produced by TENS by differential anesthetic blockade of the joint or the skin during the TENS stimulation] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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[• Of importanceApplication of TENS over an inflamed muscle in rats reverses the hyperalgesia bilaterally.

Furthermore, application of TENS to the contralateral “mirror side” also reverses the hyperalgesia bilaterally] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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[• Of importanceGABA is released and activates spinal GABA receptors to produce the analgesia produced by TENS] [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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J Neurochem. 2005;95:1794–1801.

[• Of importanceHigh-frequency TENS reduces the release of excitatory neurotransmitters in the spinal cord through activation of δ-opioid receptors] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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18•. Hingne PM, Sluka KA. Blockade of NMDA receptors prevents analgesic tolerance to repeated transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in rats. J Pain. 2008;9:217–225.

[• Of importanceThis article shows that tolerance to repeated application of TENS can be prevented by blockade of NMDA glutamate receptors during the TENS application when the drug is administered systemically.

Systemic blockade of NMDA glutamate receptors also prevents cross-tolerance in the spinal cord] [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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20•. DeSantana JM, Santana-Filho VJ, Sluka KA. Modulation between high- and low-frequency transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation delays the development of analgesic tolerance in arthritic rats. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008;89:754–760.
[• Of importanceModulating high- and low-frequency TENS delays the development of tolerance effect] [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

21•. Brown L, Tabasam G, Bjordal JM, et al.

An investigation into the effect of electrode placement of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on experimentally induced ischemic pain in healthy human participants. Clin J Pain. 2007;23:735–743.

[• Of importanceThis article showed no significant differences between two TENS eclectrode placement sites using experimental pain] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

22. Aarskog R, Johnson MI, Demmink JH, et al. Is mechanical pain threshold after transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) increased locally and unilaterally? A randomized placebo-controlled trial in healthy subjects. Physiother Res Int. 2007;12:251–263. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

23•. Claydon LS, Chesterton LS, Barlas P, Sim J. Effects of simultaneous dual-site TENS stimulation on experimental pain. Eur J Pain. 2008;12:696–704.
[• Of importanceHigh-intensity (irrespective of the applied frequency) is a key parameter in TENS applications] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

24. Buonocore M, Camuzzini N. Increase of the heat pain threshold during and after high-frequency transcutaneous peripheral nerve stimulation in a group of normal subjects. Europa Medicophysica. 2007;43:155–160. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the superior hypoalgesic effect of mixed TENS frequencies] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

26•. Oosterhof J, Samwel HJ, de Boo TM, et al. Predicting outcome of TENS in chronic pain: A prospective, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Pain. 2008;136:11–20.
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27•. Warke K, Al-Smadi J, Baxter D, et al.

Efficacy of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic low-back pain in a multiple sclerosis population: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin J Pain.

[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the effect of TENS for chronic low-back pain in multiple sclerosis patients] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

28•. Mora B, Giorni E, Dobrovits M, et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: an effective treatment for pain caused by renal colic in emergency care. J Urol. 2006;175:1737–1741.
[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the hypoalgesic effect of local TENS for renal colic pain] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

29•. Lang T, Barker R, Steinlechner B, et al. TENS relieves acute posttraumatic hip pain during emergency transport. J Trauma. 2007;62:184–188.
[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the hypoalgesic effect of TENS for emergency pain conditions during transportation to the hospital] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

30•. Defrin R, Ariel E, Peretz C. Segmental noxious versus innocuous electrical stimulation for chronic pain relief and the effect of fading sensation during treatment. Pain. 2005;115:152–160.

[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates the hypoalgesic effects of interferential current for chronic OA knee pain, where segmental noxious stimulation produces a stronger analgesic effect than segmental innocuous stimulation] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

31•. DeSantana JM, Santana-Filho VJ, Guerra DR, et al. Hypoalgesic effect of the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation following inguinal herniorrhaphy: a randomized, controlled trial. J Pain. 2008;9:623–629.

[• Of importanceThis article demonstrates that TENS significantly decreases analgesic requirements and incisional pain intensity after inquinal herniorrhaphy when compared with placebo] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

32•. DeSantana JM, Sluka KA, Lauretti GR. High and low frequency TENS reduce postoperative pain intensity after laparoscopic sterilization for tubal ligation: a randomized controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 2008 (in press)
[• Of importanceBoth high- and low-frequency TENS significantly reduce pain after laparoscopic tubal ligation] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

33•. Cipriano G, Carvalho AC, Bernardelli GF, et al. Short-term transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation after cardiac surgery: effect on pain, pulmonary function, and electrical muscle activity.

Interact CardioVasc Thorac Surg. 2008;7:539–543.

[• Of importanceTENS significantly decreases incisional pain and improves pulmonary function when compared with placebo after cardiac surgery] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

34•. Solak O, Turna A, Pekcolaklar A, et al. Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation for the treatment of postthoracotomy pain: a randomized prospective study. Thorac Cardiov Surg. 2007;55:182–185.

[• Of importanceTENS, used 30 minutes daily, significantly decreases incisional pain and analgesic requirements but not pulmonary function compared with placebo after thoracotomy] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

35•. Erdogan M, Erdogan AE, Erbil N, et al. Prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study of the effect of TENS on postthoractomy pain and pulmonary function. World J Surg. 2005;29:1563–1570.

[• Of importanceHigher TENS dosing significantly decreases pain and analgesic requirements and significantly increases pulmonary function compared with placebo after thoracotomy] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

36. Cheing GL, Hui-Chan CW. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: nonparallel antinociceptive effects on chronic clinical pain and acute experimental pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999;80:305–312. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

37. Deyo RA, Walsh NE, Martin DC, et al. A controlled trial of transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) and exercise for chronic low back pain. N Engl J Med. 1990;322:1627–1634. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

38•. Khadilkar A, Milne S, Brosseau L, et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database System Rev. 2005;(3)
[• Of importanceSystematic review of clinical trials on TENS for chronic low back pain] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746624/