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Do TENS Units Really Work?

TENS Units are known to be a safe, effective, and completely non-invasive means of controlling and managing acute and chronic pain. TENS has been said to be effective for a variety of conditions from tension headaches to arthritis. TENS Units are effective and there are many scientific studies out there that support these facts. Explore the scientific evidence and studies that examine the question, “Do TENS units really work?” and deliver a resounding “yes” as an answer.

The Effectiveness of TENS Therapy

TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a means of treating chronic or acute pain through the use of carefully-controlled, low-voltage electrical impulses that stimulate the nerves and block pain messages to the brain. At the same time, these pulses encourage the body to produce more endorphins, or pleasure hormones, to reduce and relieve pain. Finally, they encourage improved blood flow, which encourages healing and better mobility.

When used properly scientific and clinical trials prove that adequate dosing with the proper intensity strongly supports the use of TENS therapy for treating a broad range of painful ailments and that the technology can continue to improve in the future.

TENS Therapy

Treating Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

TENS units have been found to be quite effective in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain, according to a study published in Pain. The study, which reviewed a range of randomized controlled trials that were conducted and published over a 30 year period from 1976 through 2006, determined that TENS therapy provided a “significant decrease in pain,” and further held that TENS is an effective means of treating chronic pain in the musculoskeletal system.

TENS for Cancer Pain

A 2012 study in the Cochrane Library indicated that TENS therapy was an effective means of relieving cancer pain in adults, which far outpaced placebo effects. The final result was that TENS can potentially improve bone pain in populations with cancer and was used across a variety of conditions and a number of participants.

Treating Osteoarthritis

One of the primary uses for TENS therapy is to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis. A study conducted in 2016 and published in the Clinical Journal of Pain indicated that among eighteen trials included in quantitative systematic reviews and fourteen included in a meta-analysis, the indications were that TENS therapy “significantly decreased pain.”

tens therapy

Advantages of TENS to Relieve Pain

A 2012 study published in the Nursing Times also found that the use of this kind of therapy for chronic pain carried a number of measurable and important benefits. This particular study found that TENS is easy to use, portable, non-addictive and non-invasive, that any negative or conflicting evidence regarding its efficacy is related to issues with trial designs, and that it is an effective, valid additional method of pain relief in patients with a number of conditions.

Do TENS Units Really Work?

Many people over the years have started their pain management as skeptics, asking, “Do TENS units really work?” Most have come to the same conclusion—they are very effective. The range of benefits to a TENS units is huge. It’s non-invasive, painless, and does not require the dangers of side-effects that come with medication. It works on a range of conditions, and the science proves it.

Explore our website, get more information on TENS therapy, and start on your path to better pain management today.

If you purchased a TENS Unit find out how to use it in the article How to Use a TENS Machine - And How to Know You're Using it Properly.

More Information on TENS Therapy:



  1. Chen, LX, et. al. “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: Evidence from Randomized-Controlled Trials.” Clin J Pain, 32 (2), February 2016, 146-154. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25803757
  2. DeSantana, Josimiri M., et. al. “Effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Hyperalgesia and Pain.” Curr Rehumatol Rep, 10(6), December 2008, 492-499. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746624/
  3. Drhonow.com. “Science & Research Behind the Pain Therapy System.” https://drhonow.com/pain-therapy-system-research/
  4. Hurlow, A. et. al. “Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) for cancer pain in adults.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 14(3), March 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22419313#
  5. Johnson, M; Martinson, M. “Efficacy of electrical nerve stimulation for chronic musculoskeletal pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Pain 130 (1-2), July 2007, 157-65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17383095
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