As an alternative cancer therapy, TENS therapy may have potential as a way to reduce the pain experienced by the patient as a result of the disease and its associated treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It is not intended to be a sole treatment for cancer itself but its benefits can help to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Let’s explore this therapy further here.
TENS (which is short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy involves the use of a device which can apply a low-voltage electrical impulse through electrodes attached to the skin in the areas of the body which is in pain.
Users of the therapy claim that it is an effective method for relieving their acute or chronic pain. This can come about from surgery, childbirth, arthritis, and others as well as cancer. It has been noted that TENS therapy may be more beneficial for nerve pain.
The practitioners of TENS therapy believe that it stimulates the production of endorphins which is a natural painkiller produced by the body. Again as indicated earlier, this treatment is not intended to be used to treat cancer directly but rather as a way to bring relief to sufferers from pain and discomfort.
The therapy involves connecting an electrical power unit to two electrodes which are then applied to the skin near the area of the body which is causing the pain. In use, the unit applies a mild electrical current to the electrodes. During treatment, a patient may feel a warm or tingling feeling. Typical sessions last around fifteen minutes. Some people view TENS therapy as a form of electrical massage.
The therapy is often used by physical therapists and it may also be performed by the patient at home using a portable unit. There are many different types of TENS units which are approved by the FDA. A prescription is necessary to obtain one.
The theory behind the development of TENS devices originated by Dr. Ronal Melzac and Dr. Patrick Wall in 1965. They claimed that certain kinds of nerves can be stimulated by touch or electrical impulses which would then close a gate in the spinal cord, thus minimizing or preventing the sensation of pain. Following the publication of their theory, TENS therapy was widely used in the 1970’s to treat pain. The therapy is widely used by physical therapists to treat pain caused by injury and other factors.
There is limited scientific and clinical studies to support the benefits of TENS therapy. However many patients have reported good results following treatment. It should be noted that long term results are not generally common.
But as a form of relief from severe pain, it can be of benefit. In addition it can help patients to lower their reliance on pain medications so it may be something to consider.
The use of TENS therapy is generally considered to be safe. There are areas of the body where it should not be used like over the eyes, heart, brain or front of the throat. In addition people with heart problems should avoid this type of therapy.