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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    do TENS machine really work for pain?

    Related Topic
    Hi I am looking at buying a TENS machine for chronic pain for my shoulder, elbow, lower back and knee's but heard that they can cause side effects and should not be used. I would like someones opinion on the benefits of using and buying a TENS machine and is there a particular type I should look into purchasing. Thank you.
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  • 2


    John Stevens

    Exercise Physiologist

    John is an exercise physiologist and owner of Kinetic Medicine, an Exercise Physiology practice with 5 clinics on the NSW Mid North Coast. John is … View Profile

    I think the important thing to understand is how and why TENS units work. I would suggest you seek professional guidance to get the best out of a unit and a consult with a physiotherapist might be your best bet to trial this type of device.

    TENS units work, in lay terms, by providing extra input to the brain almost like providing more white noise to the danger messages coming to your brain from various parts of your body. This is an important thing to distinguish, that there are no pain messages transmitted to the brain only messages that suggest or are associated with perceived potential for harm and it is our higher neurological processes that then create pain if it is necessary to do so in order to initiate a change in your behaviour to eliminate these danger messages. There are other techniques that will work in the same way such as massage and meditation or mindfulness. 

    Whilst these are good and indeed quite safe options to help manage your pain I would strongly suggest, if you haven't already, you seek out a health professional who has a progressive and proven approach to helping you live as close to pain free. Good resources to help you on your journey to becoming pain free come from, the book Explain Pain is their seminal work and is based on the cumulative information from pain science over the last several decades. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information, I'd be more than happy to help.

  • 1


    anne j

    HealthShare Member

    Thankyou I  brought one from aldi recently so trying it out its confusing to know how to use and locations to put pads

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