• Jessica Sultan

What is a TENS Unit?



What is a TENS Unit?


TENS stands for ‘Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation’. Mild electric current is produced by a device to stimulate nerves for therapeutic purposes.


What is it used for?


Pain – either during an acute episode like labor, or for general pain management of chronic conditions (back pain).

There is also ample evidence to suggest that it can correct a variety of different bladder issues. TENS can help with conditions related to both bladder storage and bladder emptying. Studies suggest that TENS are effective in eliminating or improving enuresis in over half of patients.


How does it work?


TENS Units work through neuromodulation. Neuromodulation alters nerve activity through a targeted delivery of electrical stimulus to specific sites in the body. These electrical impulses flood the nervous system to normalize or modulate nervous tissue function. In laymans terms, the TENS unit ‘tickles’ or stimulates the nerves to help improve function of the area being stimulated.


Where should I place the leads?


For urological purposes, the leads can be placed at either the sacrum (lower part of the back) and posterior tibia (area on the inside of the leg above the ankle). Recent research suggests that placement at the posterior tibia is more effective.


When/how often should it be used?


Further research needs to be performed on this subject. We recommend using the unit for 30 minutes each day, ideally 4 days a week. If you are using the unit to address nighttime urinary issues specifically, we recommend it be used in the evening or at bedtime.

This is not a therapy that we expect to work over night. The benefits are seen after cumulative sessions over months. We ask that our patients be willing to try this at-home therapy for about 4 months.


Are there any risks?


When used as directed, TENS Units are very safe. Potential risks are skin irritation at the site of the leads, muscle soreness, temporary muscle twitching during therapy.


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