HomeElectrotherapyHow to Deal with Possible Side Effects of TENS Treatment
How to Deal with Possible Side Effects of TENS Treatment
May 24, 2019  |  Posted by Dr. Josephine Bitler

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive pain relief that utilize pulsed electrical currents across the surface of the skin to activate the nerves beneath that area. It triggers the body’s natural mechanism to heal pain, blocking the signals sent through the nerves so they won’t reach the brain.

TENS is a good pain relief option that can be done by anyone anytime at an affordable cost since there is no potential for overdose, unwanted side effects or drug interactions. The only possible side effects or problems of using TENS are as follows:

1. Skin irritation or contact dermatitis due to bad electrode pad contact or low quality adhesive. The effectiveness of TENS therapy heavily relies on how the electrode pads adhere to the skin since this is where electrical currents will be received by nerve receptors as stimuli to inhibit pain. Thus, the skin should be clean, not broken or irritated and should be air-dried before putting on the patches. A skin preparation product can also be used before putting the patches on so they will stick better. The electrode pads should have high-quality latex-free adhesive like that of DONECO TENS replacement electrode pads. Lastly, the electrode pads should be flexible enough so it will follow the contour of your skin so that electrical current is distributed evenly across the pad, minimizing the risk of electrical shock or minor burns.

2. Electrode pads do not stay on or in place. When using TENS while doing other tasks, sweating can remove the pads. If this happens often and a skin preparation product does not help, try to hold the patches in place with medical tape. You can also try to reactivate the sticky surface by wetting your fingertip with water and gently rubbing the patch surface, letting it dry for 60 seconds and putting it on again.

3. Minimal to no pain relief. TENS effects may decline over time due to our body getting used to the electrical stimuli or a worsening pain problem. When this happens, try finding better electrode placements and adjusting TENS settings. You can also temporarily rest from using TENS treatment -- do not use the unit for 3 to 5 days.

4. Nausea and feeling faint may occur in some patients. This may happen when there’s possibly other problems in the patient’s central nervous system where pain is transmitted and inhibitory actions like release of chemical inhibitors naturally occurs. When this happens, you have to seek medical expert advice.

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