Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Strategies and alternatives for coping with fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses

Does Using a TENS Unit Ease Fibromyalgia Pain?

Posted by wendyburnett on April 25, 2010


A few years ago, my rheumatologist suggested that I try a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) for my fibromyalgia pain. She gave me a prescription (be sure to make a copy of the prescription to keep in the case with your TENS in case you need to travel with it,) and I jumped through all the insurance hoops, picking up my TENS unit a few weeks later.

I visited a physical therapist to learn how to use it, and started taking it to work with me every day. I used it constantly for a while, and it does help while I’m using it (if I manage to figure out where the electrodes need to be,) but the pain always comes back shortly after I disconnect it.

I still use the TENS now and then, but it’s no longer the only non-medication weapon in my arsenal. I sometimes combine it with things like herbal teas or aromatherapy, especially if the pain is bad enough not to respond to a single method; but there are times I can’t use it because the best replacement electrodes can be a bit pricey (and are frequently not covered by insurance,) or because I’ve run out of spare batteries.

A TENS is a good option for temporary pain relief, with a few caveats. Those with a pacemaker should not use them, since the electrical signals from the TENS unit can interfere with how the pacemaker works. They should also be used with extreme care by anyone with a heart condition. Electrodes should never be placed near the eyes, or over the nerves from the neck to the throat or brain; and should never be used on the head or neck if you have blood or blood vessel problems, or if you have convulsions. Finally, don’t use a TENS unit when you’re pregnant, since the effects of a TENS on an unborn child are unknown.

This post is offered for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. Advice from a competent doctor should be sought before trying ANY new treatment, to ensure that it is safe in your particular situation.

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3 Responses to “Does Using a TENS Unit Ease Fibromyalgia Pain?”

  1. I wonder if this is similar to an E-Stim, which I’ve had for physical therapy in the past? It was wonderful, and too pricy for me to buy it on my own. If you’ve got the $ or the insurance, go for it!

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