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TENS Units Delay Nerve Regeneration?

I've seen numerous mentions of people using TENS units to help relieve their discomfort, either pre- or post-surgery. I had an ACDF on April 10th and am dealing with lots of nerve sensations as I recover, so I wondered whether TENS would really be beneficial. I Googled for some information and came across a medical journal article that has me convinced it would NOT be in my best interest to use a TENS at this point.

I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do (or what not to do), but here is the abstract for your information:

High- and low-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation delay sciatic nerve regeneration after crush lesion in the mouse.
Baptista AF1, Gomes JR, Oliveira JT, Santos SM, Vannier-Santos MA, Martinez AM.

Author information
1Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Departamento de Histologia e Embriologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The stimulation of peripheral nerve regeneration has been studied in different ways, including the use of electrical fields. The capacity of this modality to enhance nerve regeneration is influenced by the parameters used, including current type, frequency, intensity, and means of administration. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a frequently used form of administering electrical current to the body, but its effects on peripheral nerve regeneration are not known. This study assessed the influence of TENS on sciatic nerve regeneration, using a model of crush lesion in the mouse. Mice were stimulated 30 min a day, 5 days a week, for 5 weeks with both high- (100 Hz) and low- (4 Hz) frequency TENS. Control animals had the sciatic nerve crushed but were not stimulated. Assessment was performed weekly by functional analysis using the Static Sciatic Index for the mouse and at the end of the experiment by light and electron microscopy. The results showed that although there were no differences between the groups regarding the Static Sciatic Index values, TENS led to nerves with morphological signs of impaired regeneration. At light microscopy level, TENS nerves presented more axons with dark axoplasm, signs of edema, and a less organized cytoarchitecture. Electronmicrographs showed fewer and thinner thick myelinated fibers and increased number of Schwann cell nuclei. Myelinated axon diameters and density and diameter of nonmyelinated fibers were not affected by TENS, leading to the conclusion that this regimen of electrical stimulation leads to a delayed regeneration after a crush lesion of the sciatic nerve in the mouse. All these effects were more pronounced on high-frequency TENS nerves.


  • I have been in the pain circle for around 20 years now and I have tried many TENS and variations on TENS,,,, TENS can ;;;help;; with muscle pain and that's all any claims that they will repair nerves and you wont need your narcotic are not true I have bought units that claim to be as good as narcotics and they aren't ! I have spent 100s of pound on various units .I have found a good unit that give you pre selected modes are easy to use and are a comfort rather that a cure there are two high priced units that have been stopped for claiming they do stuff that they done .I have bought both of them thinking that it would help me ....it did not ...so my advice would be to buy a mid priced unit like the Omron E40 and that will be as good as any with a silly price tag amazon sell them as do TMS
    to get the best from a TENS electrode placement is very important for lower back pain either side of the pain NOT ON THE PAIN will work better than on the pain .you can google electrode placement if you are unsure .avoid the type of TENS unit with the two knobs on the top where you have to dial in the frequency the pre selected ones are better and easy to use . please don't buy a TENS thinking that it will cure you .I know the managing director of a particular high end TENS /TSE device and they have been stopped for producing their device as is does no more than a normal TENS he still says that his device is better than any others but I have not noticed any difference between his device and one a quarter of the price ,don't let you pain drain your wallet in the wish that this new device will be the end to you misery you will only be disappointed .
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