Managing Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms with TENS

What is Multiple Sclerosis and How is it Treated?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath surrounding nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This damage disrupts communication between the brain and body, leading to various symptoms. While there is no cure, treatments aim to manage symptoms, modify the disease course, and improve quality of life.

How Can Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Help MS Patients?

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief method that uses a small battery-powered device to produce mild electrical impulses, delivered through electrodes on the skin. Though more evidence is needed, studies suggest TENS may help relieve MS symptoms like pain, muscle spasms, and loss of sensation. It’s a safe, non-invasive option to try alongside other treatments.

TENS devices are widely available and easy to self-administer at home. The electrodes can be placed over affected areas as needed to target symptoms. Most devices offer adjustable settings to tailor the stimulation strength and pattern. Sessions typically last 15-60 minutes and can be done several times per day.

What Does The Research Say About Using TENS for MS Pain?

A 2014 analysis found moderate evidence that TENS helps relieve central neuropathic pain from MS damage. A 2021 review also found multiple studies supporting TENS for pain relief in various conditions. While high-quality evidence is still limited, these analyses suggest TENS may be beneficial for MS pain. More research is underway.

The studies reviewed indicated TENS can reduce pain during and right after treatment. However, there is uncertainty whether repeated TENS sessions can provide sustained long-term pain relief for chronic MS symptoms. Larger clinical trials over extended periods are required to determine the lasting pain relief potential of TENS for MS patients.

Can TENS Minimise Muscle Spasms and Stiffness?

Spasms and spasticity can disrupt movement in MS patients. A small 2007 study showed using TENS for extended periods reduced spasms but not background stiffness. However, a 2018 review suggested TENS may help treat MS spasticity when combined with other interventions like Botox injections. Though more research is required, TENS shows potential for managing MS muscle symptoms.

For reducing spasticity, electrodes can be placed along the spine to target the sensory nerve roots contributing to heightened muscle tone in the extremities. TENS may provide a non-invasive alternative to medications with side effects for MS patients struggling with debilitating spasms.

Does TENS Improve Sensation for Areas Affected by Numbness?

Numbness and altered sensations are common with MS. A study trialling daily TENS treatment found sensation in numb areas significantly improved and lasted weeks after treatment ended. This suggests TENS may temporarily reactivate nerves damaged by MS inflammation and demyelination. More studies are needed to confirm this sensory benefit.

By stimulating nerves, TENS may enhance impulse transmission and activate or ‘wake up’ nerves affected by myelin damage. This could provide temporary but meaningful sensory relief for MS patients struggling with bothersome numbness in hands, feet or other regions.


While larger studies over longer periods are still required, current evidence indicates TENS is a promising option for managing certain MS symptoms like pain, spasms and numbness when used alongside standard treatments. As a non-invasive method with minimal side effects, TENS may improve quality of life for MS patients. More research is expected to clarify its full benefits.

Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

You May Also Like: