What is TENS?
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The device uses small electrical pulses to stimulate nerve endings in the skin and muscles. This feels like a tingling sensation on your skin. This helps relieve pain by interrupting pain signals to the brain (gate control theory), and helping your body produce endorphins.
Is TENS safe?
TENS is absolutely safe when used properly. In the study, there were "no adverse effects on mothers or newborns."
Is TENS effective?
In the study cited below, the conclusion states: "TENS is an effective non-pharmacological, non-invasive adjuvant pain relief modality for use in labor and delivery. TENS application reduced the duration of the first stage of labor and the amount of analgesic drug administered."
What are the benefits?
TENS is self administered and self controlled. It can be turned on and off, with the effects dissipating immediately when removed. TENS also allows you to keep moving and be in any position you like. You are also completely clear-headed, unlike some pharmacological pain control. TENS may also help you delay or avoid pain reliving medication.
What are the disadvantages?
TENS can not be used in water. It also can not be used if you have epilepsy or a pacemaker. The pads should not be placed over broken skin.
TENS is most effective when you begin using it early in labor. For this reason, I rent TENS units to my clients, so they can use it even before calling me if they chose.
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