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Frequently Asked Questions About Tens Units

1. What is a Tens Unit?
    Tens stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A Tens is a small battery powered machine that is about the size of a pocket radio.   You attach sticky electrodes (wires that conduct electrical current) on the area of pain or pressure point. When turned on it then provides electrical impulses that travel along nerve fibers.

2. How does it work?
   One theory is that the electrical current stimulates the nerves in the affected area and sends signals to the brain that block or scramble normal pain signals. Another theory is that the stimulation triggers the body to release endorphins. (endorphins act as natural pain killers that help to block the perception of pain). The mild pulsations cause the joint muscles to contract and relax.

3. What does it feel like?
    Most say that it feels like pins and needles or tingling. The intensity can be adjusted high enough to make muscles twitch. It is important that you have a professional like a physical therapist or a physician guide you in finding the right setting.

4. Does Tens help with chronic pain?
   There are conflicting reports on this. Some researchers think that the Tens can help control chronic pain, however most studies at this time show little difference between the Tens unit and the placebo. As with most other treatments for TMD, it doesn’t work for everyone. 

5. Are there any side effects?
   Most side effects are mild and rarely occur. You may experience a little skin irritation. Tens Units should not be used on areas of the skin that have decreased sensation, or by those who have pacemakers.

6. What type of Tens Unit is used for TMJ disorder?
    Low frequency Tens is used in dentistry to relax the muscles and relieve pain caused by spasm and tension.


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