Back pain can make it hard to work, exercise, and even wash the dishes. Often, patients find that they need to take a multi-faceted approach in order to sufficiently manage their back pain. In other words, no single treatment gets rid of the pain — they have to combine therapies like massage and chiropractic care with medications like NSAIDs. If you have been struggling to manage your back pain, then it might be time to add another type of treatment to your routine: TENS. Keep reading to learn all about TENS and how it helps ease back pain.

What is TENS?

TENS is actually an acronym. It stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Since that is a really long term, almost everyone, including doctors and other medical professionals, just refers to it as TENS and never use the real name.

TENS involves sending an electric current through your skin and into your muscle in order to relax it. This might sound painful, but it is not. The current is a very low voltage. It won't be anything like getting shocked with an electric fence or battery; all you will feel is some tingling, and then the relaxation and contraction of your muscles.

Where can you get TENS therapy?

Chiropractors often use TENS therapy as a good accompaniment to adjustments. You may also find some physical therapists who use it. Often, the practitioner will use the TENS device on you a few times, and you can see how you respond. If you seem to be benefiting from the therapy, you can order your own TENS device. They're handheld units that are not very big, and they cost a couple hundred dollars at most.

How does TENS help ease back pain?

TENS helps relieve back pain by stimulating the nerves that send pain signals to your brain. By over-stimulating these nerves, it essentially makes these nerves "tired" so they stop firing and sending pain signals for a while. The relaxation and contraction of your back muscles during a TENS treatment session also causes your body to release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

Most patients find that they benefit from a TENS session every day or every other day. You will likely find that your back pain diminishes over time as you use the instrument.

To learn more about TENS and its use in treating back pain or to learn about other options for treating back pain, talk to your chiropractor.