Among the most common maladies faced by cancer patients is that of chronic pain. Therefore some of the most valuable and effective treatment for these patients are pain relief therapies. Certain cancers are more associated with pain and discomfort than others. Mesothelioma, as a rule, can be quite uncomfortable as the patient goes through mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. One of the alternative treatments used in conjunction with traditional therapies is TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) therapy. It has proven to be highly effective in pain management in patients of many different cancers, including malignant mesothelioma.
What is TENS therapy? TENS therapy uses small conductions of electricity to send electrical impulses through the body. These impulses will stimulate the nerves to the point that they can eliminate pain reactions, greatly lessening pain for a period of time. Acute pain is most effectively treated with TENS therapy as these are generally "spot treatments," rather than sustained therapies. In some cases, certain physicians will advise patients to undergo TENS therapy as a form of massage.
What should a patient expect during TENS therapy? Generally speaking, a small electrode will be attached to the patient's skin in the general area of pain. The conductor will then transmit a very mild current through the area to stimulate the nerve endings. Patients often describe the treatment as a tingling or warming effect similar to a heat pack. Sessions last between five and fifteen minutes and can be undergone as often as necessary. Patients will either visit a TENS therapy specialist or can even rent the equipment for home use.
Like any complementary therapy, TENS therapy is not for everyone and patients are urged to speak to their physician or mesothelioma doctor before participating in TENS treatments. Patients who have a history of heart conditions may not meet the eligibility guidelines for TENS therapy. Electrical impulses can aggravate the function of irregular heartbeats and TENS therapy is therefore not recommended for these patients.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) - Topic Overview