What are the possible complications of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)?

Updated: Nov 12, 2019
  • Author: Vladimir Kaye, MD; Chief Editor: Milton J Klein, DO, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Medical complications arising from use of TENS are rare. However, skin irritation can occur in as many as 33% of patients, due, at least in part, to drying out of the electrode gel. Patients need to be instructed in the use and care of TENS equipment, with particular attention to the electrodes.

In some cases, individuals react to the tape used to secure the electrodes. Skin irritation is minimized by using disposable, self-adhesive electrodes and repositioning them slightly for repeated applications. The use of TENS is contraindicated in patients with a demand-type pacemaker, because the stimulus output of the TENS unit may drive or inhibit the pacemaker.


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