San Antonio, Texas
What is “TENS” and how is it used for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) works by using an electrical pulse to stimulate muscle contractions so that your muscles essentially massage themselves. Your muscle’s own metabolism will generate heat that relieves pain and stiffness while improving mobility in your jaw.
How TENS Works
- Pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD) is typically the result of muscle strain and nerve pressure. When your jaw muscles are combating the hard tissues of your jaw and skull, they not only strain themselves and put pressure on local nerves, but pull other muscles out of alignment, which creates a cascade effect as those muscles put pressure on other nerves. The first way to relieve the pain associated with TMJ is to get your muscles to relax. TENS does this through its auto-massage.
- The TENS units used in gneuromuscular dentistry* are different from those used in chiropractic and other applications, where the goal is to block pain signals–dental TENS units actually work to relieve the root cause of pain and provide a good starting place for long-term treatment.
- TENS also stimulates the release of endorphins (“feel good” chemicals) from your brain. These endorphins are your body’s natural pain relieving chemicals that also work to lessen the symptoms associated with TMJ.
Results from TENS Treatment
Most studies reveal that it takes about 30 minutes for low-frequency TENS treatment to begin alleviating pain. Some patients report feeling hours of pain relief from 30-to-60 minute sessions.
Other patients use personal TENS units for several hours a day or all during the day, depending on their level of pain. Be sure to follow Dr. Brian Hale’s recommendations for the length of time you should use the TENS unit.
Risks and side effects
Unlike medications or prescription drugs, TENS is a virtually risk-free method of dealing with pain.
The pulse delivered by the TENS unit only penetrates the skin to the level of the nerve fibers, less than one inch. This poses no danger to most patients. However, if you have a cardiac condition or a pacemaker, you should talk to your doctor before undergoing this treatment. Pregnant women should also consult their doctors before using the TENS unit.
If you live in the San Antonio area and suffer from TMJ pain, TENS may be the solution for you. Please schedule a TENS consultation at our San Antonio office today.
Describe Your TMJ
Printable Form (PDF)
To help us better understand your specific pain points and determine the ideal treatment, please print this form. Circle all symptoms that apply to you and bring it to your TMJ consultation.