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TENS can stimulate the sensory nerves differently, activating different natural pain relief mechanisms within the body. The two primary pain relief mechanisms are the Pain Gate Mechanism and the Endogenous Opioid System.
The Pain Gate Mechanism, also known as the Gate Control Theory, uses a high frequency stimulation to activate specific sensory fibers. When these fibers are stimulated it releases a non-painful stimulus that closes the “gate” that send the pain signals to the brain1.
The alternative method is using a low frequency TENS program to target the Endogenous Opioid System. Through this system you are stimulating different sensory fibers that produce an opioid effect, which helps to provide pain relief and reduces the pain signals sent to the brain2.
1. Hadjistavropoulos, T; Craig, K. Pain: Psychological Perspectives. New York; London. Psychology Press, 2004.
2. Han JS, Chen XH, Sun SL, Xu XJ, Yuan Y, Yan SC, Hao JX, Terenius L. Effect of low- and high-frequency TENS on Metenkephalin-Arg-Phe and dynorphin A immunoreactivity in human lumbar CSF. Pain 1991; 47: 295–298.