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The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS; English transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is an electromedical electrical stimulation therapy with mono- or (mostly) biphasic square pulses (alternating current) low frequency, 2-4 Hz (low), or high frequency, 80-100 Hz (high ), which is mainly used to treat pain (analgesia) and to stimulate muscles. The current forms can be the burst tens either as a constant pulse train of square needle pulses or as an interrupted pulse train. The TENS method was developed in the 1970s. Experiments with neurostimulation have been carried out for a long time, but a rational application did not begin until the gate control theory of pain (Patrick David Wall / Bill Sweet, C. Norman Shealy et al.).
The electrical impulses are transmitted to the surface of the skin via electrodes. Frequencies between 1 and 100 Hz are commonly used. The electrodes are placed near the painful areas. The stimulus itself is not painful. At most, a tingling sensation can be felt on the skin. When irritated with “high”, irritation occurs directly over the painful area or the nerve that supplies this area of skin (dermatome). The irritation with “low” should be selected if the aftereffect of “high” is not long enough.
The aim of this therapy is to influence so-called afferent nerve tracts (stimulus tracts of the central nervous system from the periphery to the brain, i.e. sensitive nerve tracts serving to conduct pain) in such a way that the transmission of pain to the brain is reduced or prevented. The pain threshold should be raised by the TENS. According to the gate control hypothesis, it is assumed that, on the one hand, the body's own inhibiting mechanisms for the pain fibers in the spinal cord are activated by stimulating afferent, rapidly conducting A-delta fibers. On the other hand, descending inhibitory nerve tracts should be stimulated and the endorphin release increased. TENS therapy is used for muscle stimulation, after operations or (sports) injuries