What is Chronic Pain? … And How Should I Treat It?


What is Chronic Pain?

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, Chronic Pain can be described as ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury.¹ Approximately 76.2 million Americans have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours. Unfortunately, a notable risk factor for the development of chronic pain is age. A study done of Pain Medicine² showed increased prevalence in older populations, and that pain can affect everything from one’s occupation to personal relationships.

When interacting with Medical Dealers or Manufacturers, the term Electrotherapy is likely to come up. Electrotherapy is the use of electric currents passed through the body to stimulate nerves and muscles. The name sounds simple enough, but the products that fall under this category can be very specialized.

The two prevalent electrotherapy devices on the market are TENS and EMS units. Both TENS and EMS units have become more common over the years.

What is TENS?

TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

TENS is the electrical stimulation of nerves over the skin. A TENS device specifically stimulates nerves to relieve pain, either acute or chronic. When prescribed by a doctor, this form of electrotherapy can be used as an alternative to medication.

What is EMS?

EMS – Electronic Muscle Stimulation

EMS is the electronic stimulation of muscles over the skin. An EMS device provides therapy which actually makes the muscles contract.

While TENS is used to treat pain, EMS is predominantly used to prevent the weakening or loss of muscle tone which usually happens after injuries or surgeries.

How the Body Receives the Therapy

An electrode is a conductor used to establish electrical contact. Electrodes connect to the electrotherapy device with lead wires. These lead wires carry the current to the electrodes which are placed on the patient’s skin where the pain occurs, as shown above.

Always check with a doctor before undertaking any pain therapy, and to help determine which device will work best for you.

Graham-Field has introduced a unit that doesn’t make you choose between TENS and EMS. The new Premium Dual Function Stimulator is equipped with both TENS and EMS functionality in one convenient device. With both functions, a patient can now have two units in one.

With dual functionality, two channels, ten treatment programs, and twenty levels of intensity, the GF-DF5 is the perfect device for anyone getting started with electrotherapy or updating their current regimen. As always, talk to your doctor first.


¹ National Center for Health Statistics (2006)

² Yong, R. Jason., Michael Nguyen, Ehren Nelson, and Richard D. Urman. Pain Medicine: An Essential Review. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2017


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Shelby Kenney is an Associate Product Manager at Graham-Field.

About GF Health Products, Inc.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700. © 2017, GF Health Products, Inc., all rights reserved.