What Is A Tens Unit Versus Frequency Specific Microcurrent Stimulation?

What Is A Tens Unit Versus Frequency Specific Microcurrent Stimulation?

Posted 8.10.2012 in Articles by Jess

With different kinds of electric muscle stimulation therapies and treatments on the rise, it may be confusing to distinguish between them. Ultrasound, laser, TENS, microcurrent – what's used for what? TENS and microcurrent therapy are the two that are most commonly confused because of their use of frequencies. While they do have a few similarities, they are also different in regards to their methods and what they treat.

A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a safe non-invasive drug-free method of pain management. It relieves pain by sending small electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the skin to underlying nerve fibers. TENS is believed to work by two different mechanisms. First, electrical stimulation of the nerve fibers can block a pain signal from being carried to the brain. If used correctly, TENS will not harm you. It's not advisable to place the electrodes over the eyes, the front of the throat or the vicinity of a heart pace-maker. People with pace-makers may use TENS but only with medical supervision. 

It's also not recommended to use in cases of tuberculosis, malignant tumors, high or low blood pressure, high fever or acute inflammatory disease. As a side effect, the constant pulsing of electrical stimulation from the TENS machine can cause pain and muscle twitching. The muscle twitching occurs as a side effect of overstimulation. 

A TENS unit should also not be used on pregnant women as the effects of the vibrating impulse on the unborn fetus are unknown. It may also cause skin reddening and soreness where the electrodes were placed. If you have epilepsy, using a TENS unit on your neck to relieve this pain could cause a seizure. 

A similarity between a TENS unit and microcurrent is that microcurrent is approved in the category of a TENS device by the FDA. The difference is that TENS devices deliver milliamp current and block pain messages that are trying to get up to the spin to the brain. Microcurrent delivers sub-sensory microramperage current, 1000 times less than milliamp current, which has been shown in published studies to increase ATP levels. 

Also, TENS is used strictly for pain management and is not recommended for long-term therapy. Microcurrent is also used for pain management but becaue of its lower output, it can be used for longer treatments over longer periods of time. 

While microcurrent is a type of therapy categorized underneath a TENS device, they are ultimately different. It's important to understand the differences between the types of electrotherapy because they're specific to what they treat and who can receive that treatment. 


Image (CC) Roger_Mammaerts 

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