Does TENS Reduce Labour Pain?

Did you use TENS during your labour? Or perhaps you know someone who did? Did you/they find it effective?

(In case you didn’t know, TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – is the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes – eg. Pain relief).


Calmly smiling therefore clearly NOT in real labour


A recent study in the Journal of Physiotherapy looked at whether TENS was effective and whether it delayed the need for analgesia during the active phase of labour.

It compared an intervention group (TENS) vs a control group (no TENS) and found that TENS reduced pain severity and delayed the need for analgesia by approximately 5 hours.

Makes TENS sounds awesome doesn’t it?

Well, read the article more closely and it seems that the control group didn’t have sham TENS. Which means that the study was hardly controlled/blinded. Er, hello? Major bias?

Cogito (TENS works) ergo sum (TENS works)


Santana LS, Gallo RB, Ferreira CH, et al.   Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) reduces pain and postpones the need for pharmacological analgesia during labour: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2016 Jan;62(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2015.11.002. Epub 2015 Dec 11. 

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