Anybody who has seen us for TMD/TMJ treatment is familiar with the TENS unit. TENS, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a type of therapy we use to help guests with chronic TMD pain. When we TENS a guest, we are trying to relieve the tightness in the muscles. Typically, the tighter the muscles are the more pain a guest will feel, either in their face, shoulders, or neck. By breaking the cycle of pain, we’re able to relax the muscles and achieve the ideal bite. Have you ever felt tightness in your face? What about a tension headache or ringing in the ears? Using a TENS unit can help alleviate these symptoms.
During the TENS appointment, sticky electrodes are placed on very specific parts of the face and shoulders. The TENS unit is then turned on, allowing a gentle current to stimulate the skin and the nerves underneath it. The current is not strong enough to cause pain, but is strong enough to trigger a gentle pulse in the muscles. This pulse allows us to retrain the signals the muscles send to your brain. It is not uncomfortable, but the feeling is definitely different. However, once you get used to it, it can actually be enjoyable. After the visit, guests typically feel significant symptom relief for hours.
Guests that have pain in between appointments may be prescribed an at home TENS unit. We have MicroTENS stimulation units for rent or purchase for this reason. The reason we use this TENS unit over others is because it is ultra-low frequency. When using a TENS unit on the nerves of the face, ultra-low is the way to go, anything higher than that can cause injury and pain. If you’re interested in using a TENS unit in between TMD appointments, just let us know! We can point you in the right direction.