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Using a TENS machine for migraine pain

Women on sofa experiencing migraine pain
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Struggling with migraine pain that can’t be managed with conventional painkillers? You might benefit from using a TENS machine.

What is a TENS machine and how does it work?

TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation”. It’s a process where you apply a mild electrical current to the skin to block pain signals, relax the muscles and stimulate the release of endorphins. For this reason, it’s a process that some people use to treat conditions which cause pain and muscle spasms.

TENS machines are used by NHS doctors and nurses, so you might be able to use one during appointments with a physiotherapist or pain specialist. You can also buy your own TENS machine to use at home from your local pharmacy or online.

A typical TENS machine is small and battery-operated, with wires that connect to sticky pads. To use the machine, you should attach the pads directly to your skin in the area of your body affected by pain. When you turn on the TENS machine, you’ll feel a tingling sensation, and hopefully a reduction in your pain and discomfort.

TENS for migraines

Most of the time, a TENS machine is used by people with musculoskeletal pain, like chronic back pain or arthritis in the knees. However, there are now TENS machines on the market specifically used to help alleviate migraine pain.

Here at LloydsPharmacy we’ve developed our own TENS machine specially for use during migraines. The device attaches directly to the forehead and helps to treat pain during a attack and reduce the likelihood of future episodes.

Alternative devices for migraine pain

Alternative devices include the Cefaly device used external trigeminal nerve stimulation to prevent and and treat migraines, whilst gammaCore (which uses non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation) is effective against cluster headaches, treating the attacks and helping to prevent daily treatment.

Another option is to ask your GP or migraine specialist about transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This is a process where a small electrical device is held to your head and delivers magnetic pulses through your skin – if you have TMS when your migraine is just starting, it should reduce the severity of your symptoms. However, it’s only appropriate for people who have migraine with aura.

Other TENS machine uses

A TENS machine can be used for:

  • Arthritis
  • Period pain
  • Endometriosis pain
  • Knee pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sports injuries

It can also be used by pregnant women to ease labour pains.

Other ways to alleviate migraine pain

Migraine isn’t an easy condition to treat, but there are lots of different things you can try to help ease your symptoms, including:

To learn more about migraines and how to treat them, read this article: Headaches and migraines.

Turn off migraine pain with Migraine TENS