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Is TENS safe to use on a pregnant patient?

I have a patient 32 weeks GA and other medical staff requesting TENS for her PTL pain. She is not in labour.

Carolyn Cossenas

10 months ago

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Thank you for your reply. The consensus from what I have read and heard aligns with yours. I will definitely look at your electrotherapy downloads. Appreciate your knowledge. (she has since delivered!) Regards, Carolyn

Prof Tim Watson
Prof Tim Watson

Carolyn Sorry for the delay in my response - and ideed, nobody else seems to have replied either. TENS to the low back during pregnancy has been widely listed as being contraindicated and puts the developing foetus at risk. When we trawled through the evidence some while back (in the UK) we could not actually find anything that identified the risk, but we found numerous papers identifying that it did NOT put the foetus at risk - and thus, while it might not be the first line treatment of choice, it was not absolutely contraindicated. There are some additional guidelines. These are available (for free - open access) from my web pages on the Download tab ( if you want to check on the detail. Whilst I would not consider it to be a contraindication, I would advocate that the use of TENS to the low back during pregnancy should be delivered with due caution - not something to do without careful consideration Appreciate that this might be too late for the particular patient that you had in mind, but it might be useful for your future consideration - or indeed, by others looking for info on the same topic Regards Tim

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