Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). A Possible Aid for Pain Relief in Developing Countries?



O Tashani, M Johnson

Centre for Pain Research, Faculty of Health, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, Leeds Pallium Research Group

Libyan J Med 2009; 4(2):C77-83


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) refers to the delivery of electrical currents through the skin to activate peripheral nerves. The technique is widely used in developed countries to relieve a wide range of acute and chronic pain conditions, including pain resulting from cancer and its treatment. There are many systematic reviews on TENS although evidence is often inconclusive because of shortcomings in randomised control trials methodology. In this overview the basic science behind TENS will be discussed, the evidence of its effectiveness in specific clinical conditions analysed and a case for its use in pain management in developing countries will be made.

Keywords: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Pain, Analgesia, Pain relief, Pain management, Developing countries, Pain gate theory