Pain Management: Conventional Pain Killers vs. TENS

Living with pain can be hard because pain is not  just an inconvenience. It can be devastating. Almost every doctor would agree that it is better to treat pain than to suffer through it. In fact, treating pain is the crucial first step towards recovery from many conditions. There are variety of options available for the treatment of chronic pain. Under the conventional category of medications there are oral and topical therapies available for chronic pain management.

Then there are treatment options available that do not involve medications.

What are the typical medications used for treatment of chronic pain?

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofendiclofenacand naproxenAspirin is also an NSAID. However, it is mainly prescribed (in low doses) to help to keep the blood from clotting – for example, for people who have had a heart attack in the past.
  • Paracetamol
  • Weak opioids and strong opioids.  Examples of weak opioids include codeine and dihydrocodeine. Examples of strong opioids include morphine, oxycodone, pethidine and tramadol.

How do these medicines work?


All the three types of pain killers help fight pain. Though their purpose and result is similar, the process through which they rid the body of pain is little different from one another. However, all the painkillers work by either blocking the pain signals from traveling to the brain or by attaching to the endorphin receptors in the body; thereby increasing your tolerance to pain.


Paracetamol is targeted at the brain and it works by stopping the production of pain from the source. It reduces the production of inflammatory substances and chemicals in the brain, which are usually referred to as prostaglandins. These inflammatory chemicals can be found anywhere in the body but they are concentrated in the brain. Paracetamol can be helpful in relieving a person of pain and even fever.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs:

NSAIDs work on a chemical level.  These medicines cease the production of prostaglandins just as Paracetamol, but instead of targeting the brain, they target the prostaglandins present throughout the human body. This makes them effective; however, the side effect of this type of medication is that since they target the prostaglandins in the body instead of the brain, they end up affecting the different bodily functions and organs as well.


This type of medication is something that targets the receptors in the human body. These receptors are found in the central nervous system and the gut. They are also found in some other important parts of the body. Opioids increase your tolerance for pain and they also work at reducing the pain your body is experiencing.

What are possible side effects of the pain killers?

Apart from decreasing the production of endorphins (body’s own natural pain relievers) and giving rise to dependency and withdrawal symptoms, conventional pain killers suffer from number of side effects:

Vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, reduced appetite, headache, and dizziness, rash and drowsiness.

Another alternative to conventional painkillers?

TENS is a powerful alternative to painkillers. TENS sends a gentle stimulation through the skin which stimulates the sensory nerves, and blocks the pain signal travelling up the spine to the brain. It also stimulates body’s own natural defence against pain, namely the release of endorphins.

TENS units are easy to use. They are a better alternative to pain killers for many reasons.

  1. Fear of dependency

Heavy duty painkillers like opioids are very effective at fighting pain and many pain sufferers depend on them to lead happy, functional lives. Often, patients become physically dependent upon these drugs.

In this area TENS is advantageous. As it doesn’t use any chemical substances such as opioids, there’s nothing addictive about a TENS machine. It works with the body’s own pain relievers – endorphins-, so it does not create any dependency.

  1. Overuse of painkillers can make them ineffective over time

In addition to being addictive, painkillers can also become ineffective over time. That means that many patients need to take more and more pills in order to find relief from pain which can lead to overdosing.

That’s where TENS unit steps in. As it uses electrical impulses to stimulate the body’s natural endorphins, there’s no danger of overdose. You can simply adjust the unit’s settings to accommodate your changing needs. This means that TENS unit is a long term solution in any pain management programme.

  1. Can be customised to suit each person’s pain needs:

Everyone does not feel pain the same way. For a similar ailment, different people feel different degree of pain. However, pain killers are designed to be one size fits all solution.

That is not the case with a TENS unit, you can programme your TENS units to meet your needs in best possible way. TENS units feature number of programmes, speed and strength options designed to help you find personalised pain relief.

  1. Targeted pain relief:

The problem with any prescription drug is that they affect the entire body, not just the part that hurts. If you use a drug to ease one problem, like an achy joint, it is likely to cause a different reaction somewhere else too.

With the TENS units, you can target therapy to certain areas of your body to ensure best results.


TENS for Pregnancy, Labour and Post-delivery

TENS are amazing machines. For several years now maternity TENS machines have been providing relief from labour pain. Recent clinical evidences suggest that TENS not only provides relief from labour pain, it is also equally effective at providing pain relief during pregnancy and post-delivery.

Pregnant woman portrain

TENS for lower back pain during late pregnancy:

According to a Research Paper by Kensin (2012), on TENS for back pain in late pregnancy, TENS is effective and safe treatment for lower back pain during pregnancy. It improves lower back pain more effectively than exercise and acetaminophen.

The most recent review of clinical evidence from the ACPWH indicates that TENS is safe to use in later pregnancy.

TENS for labour pain

Recent studies by Santana(2016) and Sever (2015), show that TENS administered at the beginning of the active phase of labour reduces pain and postpones the need for pharmacological analgesia, shortens the period of delivery and it’s efficiency is independent from other variables.

TENS for Back pain:

Pivec (2013), in a nationwide study of TENS for back pain in the USA concluded that TENS is associated with reduced back pain, significantly reduced inpatients visits, and fewer requests for physical therapy.

This clinical evidence suggests that TENS is highly effective and safe treatment for pain in pregnancy, labour and post-delivery.



ACPWH guidance on the safe use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) for musculosketal pain during pregnancy 2007

Kesin,E.A. Onur,O.,Kesin,H.L.,Gumus,I.I.,Kalafi,H.and Turhan,N.(2012). Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Improves Low Back Pain during Pregnancy. Gynaecological and Obstetric Investigation, Vol74, No.1, pp 76-83.

Pivec,R.,Stokes,M.,Chitnis,A.,Paulino,S. and Mont,M.(2013).  Clinical and Economic Impact of TENS in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Analysis of a Nationwide Database.Orthopedics.

Satana,L.,Gallo,R.,Ferreira,C.,Durate,G.,Quintana,S.and Marcolin,A.(2016).Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation reduces pain and postpones the need for pharmacological analgesia during labour. Journal of Physiotherapy, vol 62, pp 29-34.

Sever,N.(2015). Assessment of efficiency of the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in labour pain relief.



Vulvodynia is persistent, unexplained pain in the vulva, which is the skin surrounding the vagina. The sensation of burning and soreness of the vulva can be continuous (unprovoked vulvodynia), or on light touch, e.g. Tampon use (provoked vulvodynia). Although the condition is persistent and without an obvious cause, there are steps which can be taken to help relieve the discomfort.

Most Common symptoms of vulvodynia

  • Burning, Stinging or rawness
  • Aching, soreness or throbbing

Possible causes of vulvodynia:

  • Nerve injury or irritation
  • Abnormal response in vulvar cells to an infection or trauma
  • Genetics,
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Hypersensitivity to yeast infections
  • Hormonal changes
  • Frequent antibiotic use.

Lifestyle tips:

  • Wear 100% cotton underwear and loose-fitting skirts or trousers.
  • Avoid scented hygiene products such as feminine wipes, bubble bath and soap
  • Avoid cycling and any other activities that put prolonged pressure on the vulva.
  • Avoid swimmingpools with lots of chlorine.
  • Keep the vulva clean and dry.
  • Try to reduce stress as high levels of stress can increase the pain of vulvodynia.

Pelvic Pain

Vulvodynia is not life threatening condition, still pain in vulva can greatly affect a women’s quality of life. It can have impact on her ability to exercise, socialise and work. Severe symptoms can affect relationships.

Several clinical studies have shown that electric muscle stimulation help to reduce pain associated with vulvodynia.

TensCare Perfect PFE comes with a pain program which helps relieve pain from vulvodynia.



NHS Vulvodynia (persistent pain of the vulva)

MEDICA World Forum for Medicine 16-19 November 2015: Düsseldorf, Germany.

Are you ready for Medica 2015?

TensCare Ltd Stand: 11 H41

Keeping busy at Medica

TensCare Ltd stand at Medica 2014

TensCare Ltd will once again be exhibiting at Medica World Forum For Medicine, one of the largest medical exhibitions in Europe, from 16-19 November in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Last year was a great success and this year we are looking to meet with new and existing customers to extend our product range and expand into new territories.

Visit us in Hall 11, Stand H41 to learn more about our range of drug-free electrotherapy units, providing pain relief and muscle toning to both home and professional environments:

> TENS for drug-free pain relief
> EMS for muscle toning & rehabilitation
> Maternity TENS for natural pain relief during childbirth
> Pelvic Floor Exercisers for bladder weakness & sexual well-being
> Interferential & Ultrasound for deep-seated pain relief & healing
> Multitherapy devices combining TENS, EMS, Interferential & Micro-Current for professional use

If you would like to learn more about our products, please contact us via email or visit our website

If you would like to arrange a meeting with us during the event, please contact
Agnes Rasmussen via email

You can also view the TensCare Ltd page via the Medica website here.

We look forward to meeting you there!

Join Hilary Barnett demonstrating the EmbaGYN on QVC UK (11am & 6pm, Wednesday 23rd September 2015)

Join our Continence Advisor Hilary Barnett on QVC UK to learn more about the EmbaGYN Pelvic Floor Trainer.

Hilary will be appearing on Wednesday 23rd September on both the 11am morning show and at 6pm on the ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ show, explaining how the EmbaGYN Pelvic Floor Trainer can help to significantly reduce bladder weakness, tone the pelvic floor after childbirth and improve sexual well-being.

With the EmbaGYN Pelvic Floor Trainer, you could see significant results in as little as 3 weeks!

Hilary will also be demonstrating how easy the unit is to set up and use in the comfort of your own home.Hilary QVC EmbaGYN

You can watch Hilary on the QVC UK TV channel or online here.

If you have any questions regarding the EmbaGYN or any of the above, please contact us.

EmbaGYN Pelvic Floor Trainer

Otherwise, enjoy the show!

Hot Topic Tuesday: “Using TENS to treat Motion Sickness and Nausea”

TENS machines are incredible devices – they not only provide drug-free, long-lasting pain relief, but they can also provide relief from other ailments such as nausea and motion sickness.

Nausea can be caused by a wide range of factors:

  • Motion sickness
  • Travel sickness
  • Morning sickness during pregnancy (hyperemesis)
  • Post-operative nausea (caused by anaesthetic)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Side effects from medication

A report by United Healthcare Oxford found that several studies supported the effectiveness of TENS to reduce nausea caused by the majority of the above factors (read more here).

Electrode Pad Placement

TENS works to relieve nausea by stimulating acupuncture points on the wrist and lower arm.

Simply place two electrodes onto the arm as shown in the image below.

You can use one arm with 2 pads (you will require a TENS unit that works with a single channel) or you can apply the pads to both arms to use all 4 pads.

Travel Sickness Electrode Placement

It is best to use a Continuous setting at a low Frequency (around 10 Hz) and a high Pulse Rate (around 200 µS).

Keep using the TENS unit until you are out of the environment causing the nausea (i.e. when you have finished travelling), or until the nausea wears off.

Since TENS is drug-free, it is safe to use alongside most medication and can be used for long periods of time without any adverse side effects.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please visit our website or contact us.

Hot Topic Tuesday: “What is TENS & How Does it Work?”

What is it?

TENS stands for:

TENS Unit with Electrodes

TENS Unit with Electrodes


TENS is used as a more natural pain relief alternative and can provide long-term pain relief without any unwanted side effects.

How does it work?

TENS is recommended throughout the world by pain clinics and physiotherapy departments. Not only does TENS reduce your pain, it can also help you to reduce your need for painkillers. TENS is simply a means of stimulating your body’s own natural defenses against pain.


TENS units send a tiny electric current through the skin through self-adhesive electrode pads which are usually placed near the source of the pain. This current stimulates the sensory nerves, which carry touch and temperature signals. These nerves go to the same connections in the spine as the nerves carrying pain. A strong signal in the sensory nerve releases chemicals in the spine which stop the pain signal travelling up the spine to the brain. This is known as the “Pain Gate”.

TENS Pain Gate

TENS Pain Gate

In Pain Gate modes, TENS provides relief while it is switched on. The effect may start to wear off after 1-2 hours, however, sessions can be paused for an hour and then re-started.


At low frequency settings, TENS also stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relief mechanism.

In Endorphin Release modes, pain relief builds up over as much as 40 minutes, and can last for up to 4 hours after the unit is turned off.

Release of Endorphins

Release of Endorphins

Most people will achieve a reduction in pain. Some find that their pain goes away completely while they are using TENS. Some users only feel better after repeated use, and over a long time period.

What are the benefits of TENS?

  • You can use TENS as much, and as often, as you need. However, always ensure electrodes are re-positioned regularly (at least every 12 hours) to allow the skin to breathe.
  • TENS is natural, drug-free and there are no known side effects to long term TENS use.
  • TENS units are affordable, portable, discreet and easy-to-use for home use.
  • TENS can be used for pain relief from a variety of conditions.
  • TENS may also improve circulation, motion and function.

Always ensure you read the instructions and contraindications carefully. Consult your medical advisor before use.

TENS is recommended by NHS Choices for the treatment of:

  • Frozen shoulder
  • Back pain
  • Period pain
  • Spondylitis
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis pain and Osteoarthritis pain
  • Alternative for Lumbar Decompressive Surgery

TENS can also be used as a treatment for:

  • Joint pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Muscle strains
  • Toothache
  • Secondary pain from conditions such as Endometriosis and IBS
  • Pain relief during labour (in the form of Maternity TENS)

If you would like some more information regarding our range of TENS units, please call 01372 723 434 or email

Alternatively, you can find all of our products on our website

The TensCare Team 🙂