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Massage Therapy Glossary


TENS Unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator)

The TENS is an electronic machine that conducts electrical signals with two or more electrodes through the surface of the skin to stimulate nerves.  In 1974 the battery-operated TENS unit has a pulse generator, frequency and intensity controls, a small transformer and a number of electrodes were brought to market.  Some meta-analysis going back many years show the TENS is effective treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain.  Also used as a method of pain relief, in Europe, during labour.  Also in palliative care and pain medicine they are an attempt to alleviate neuropathy (pain due to nerve damage).  Historically in the 16th through the 18th centuries various electrostatic devices were used for headache and other pains.  Benjamin Franklin supported this method for pain relief, in the 1900's a device called the electreat, along with numerous other devices were used for pain control and cancer cures.


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