tens TENS nerve stimulation pain management technique

If you suffer from chronic pain, then you know that nerves are delicate and sensitive. While that may be problematic for your chronic pain condition, it also provides some powerful ways to reduce pain. Pain is transmitted as an electrical impulse that travels from one neural cell to another until it reaches your brain and is interpreted as an unpleasant sensation. It doesn’t take much to interrupt or manipulate this series of electrical impulses, and various techniques for nerve stimulation for pain management do exactly that.

Physicians now use an array of nerve stimulation methods that interrupt or minimize pain sensations traveling along the nervous system. Because nerve impulses are electrical in nature, the easiest way to interfere in neural activity is to “short circuit” key nerves with another electrical impulse. In most pain management techniques that use nerve stimulation, only a very small amount of current is necessary to disrupt pain transference.


If you have been to a physical therapist to alleviate pain and other symptoms of your chronic condition, then you may already be familiar with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS. TENS uses a very mild electrical current between two electrodes to reduce pain symptoms in a specific area of your body.

TENS has been used since the 1960s with mixed results. Some people respond very well to this nerve stimulation method, with an almost immediate reduction in pain severity, while others do not respond at all. Researchers are unsure why some people respond positively, while others do not experience any changes in their pain condition.

If you would like to see if you are one of the fortunate few who respond well to TENS, you can visit a PT clinic, or you can purchase a personal TENS device relatively inexpensively. You should note that the effects of a TENS sessions last for only a short period of time.

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Another nerve stimulation method that is fairly popular is spinal cord stimulation. This pain management technique has proven effective for people suffering from back pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). It involves the surgical implantation of an electrical current stimulator near the spine which creates an electrical field that interferes with pain impulses that travel through the spinal cord.

Initially developed almost four decades ago, spinal cord stimulation is now used on more than 14,000 patients annually. This pain management technique has proven highly effective among sufferers of chronic back pain or CRPS (chronic regional pain syndrome), and is currently being investigated for other chronic pain applications.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy

One pain management technique that is being further examined for broader use among chronic pain patients is pulsed electromagnetic field therapy or PEMF. PEMF devices generate a magnetic field that promotes blood circulation and improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients which helps heal damaged tissue. Some researchers also believe that PEMF provides a more conducive environment for cellular regeneration. Unlike standard magnets which have been touted for their spurious healing powers, PEMF uses a pulsed magnetic field at multiple frequencies that can penetrate deep into muscle and joint tissue.


Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.