Evidence of TENS effectiveness
Due to a lack of research, there are no controlled clinical trials testing TENS therapy specifically for endometriosis pain relief.
In 2002 Proctor et al conducted a systematic review of both TENS therapy and acupuncture. One of their conclusions was that these therapies can be effective in the treatment of dysmenorrhea (primary period pain).
Our own survey experience relating to pelvic pain is summarized in the chart to the right. Approximately 70% of our respondents found their TENS pain relief to be very good or excellent.
While many women respond well to TENS pain relief, there is also some anecdotal evidence suggesting that some find little or no benefit, and some report an aggravation of their symptoms.
Evaluating the benefits
In the medical world there are very few medicines, procedures or therapies that can claim a 100% success rate.
While TENS therapy may not help ever woman suffering endometriosis pain, it has helped, and will continue to help, many women. Therefore it should be one of the options to consider for your pain management plan.
Before purchasing a TENS machine for this purpose, we suggest you borrow or hire a unit to trial it for yourself. The EllaEase from ActivLIfe is available for a 4 week trial period. Details are available here.
How to use EllaEase
In order of strength, the 3 main intensity levels are:
Sensory threshold - when you can just feel the tingling sensation
Motor threshold - much stronger, and you can feel your muscles contract
Pain threshold - stronger still, when the stimulation becomes painful to you. NEVER use TENS therapy at or above pain threshold.
The 3 functions (or modes of operation) are:
During a trial of TENS therapy you may wish to try all 3 functions to see what is best for you, but here are some generalized guidelines:
High levels of prostaglandins - use EASE mode primarily
Chronic inflammation - use RELIEVE or RELAX functions as a first option
Tight pelvic floor muscles - DO NOT use EASE above Motor threshold
The full EllaEase Endo treatment guide is available here.