TENS Use for Pain Control

Last Modified: August 26, 2007


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My wife has a low-grade lymphoma, and the current treatment is ?wait and watch?. She has no pain from it. Right know she is having some unrelated back pain, and a pain management doctor are thinking of using a Tens Unit or EMS to help control that pain. We have previously been told not to use a Tens Unit or EMS if she has lymphoma. I can not find any information to support that. Are there any potential negative impacts on her lymphoma if she does use the Tens Unit or EMS treatment?


Lora Packel MS, PT, Coordinator of Cancer Therapy Services for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

According to the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, TENS is a low-risk intervention for pain management in the person with cancer. Some practitioners would recommend avoiding the application of TENS directly over a localized tumor. The ACS and NCI websites contain good information on this topic.

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute