Feeling tense? Why not try some TENS? Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a therapeutic treatment that uses low voltage electric current produced by a special device called a TENS unit in order to relieve pain. For decades, this device has been a staple in physical therapy and chronic pain treatments. Because it has no side-effects and is generally affordable, the Tens unit has a huge range of users.
How does it work?
The TENS’s electrodes that are stuck to your skin pump an electric current through your skin and into your tissues where they stimulate the nerves and muscle contractions which can temporarily block or relieve pain. This is because the stimulated nerves send signals to the brain that drive out the pain messages. Moreover, electrical stimulation helps the body produce more endorphins which are natural painkillers. Depending on the degree of pain you are experiencing, you can set the TENS unit for different wavelength frequencies and intensity of electrical current. If you are being treated by a doctor or physiotherapist, they will determine the settings that will work best for your type of pain.
What is TENS used for?
TENS is used by people that experience pain as a result of different conditions. People with low back pain and neck pain are the ones that find this device most helpful. But patients with fybromyalgia and osteoarthritis that suffer from joint, bone or muscle problems also swear by the great effects of the TENS machine. Besides musculoskeletal pain, TENS can help reduce the amount of other types of localized pain, such as labour pain, chronic pain and even some types of cancer pain. The ultimate beauty of this machine is that it can be used throughout the whole day without anyone even noticing. It’s very subtle and can be worn under the clothes without causing any discomfort.
How and When to Use?
If you use it properly and according to the guidelines, TENS is generally safe and without side-effects. However, don’t get discouraged if you experience no significant results. Like any other back pain treatment, TENS works differently on different people. How effective it’s going to be depends on the personal experience. You might also want to discuss using it with your doctor if you have a pacemaker or are in the early stages of pregnancy. The TENS unit is easy to use on your own. However, to make sure you are doing it right, you can ask your doctor or physical therapist to demonstrate how to put it on. Here are some directions and precautions for using this machine:
- Use TENS only under doctor’s orders. Inform your doctor if your condition has changed;
- Do not leave the electrodes longer than recommended;
- Clean the machine after every use;
- Do not use on irritated or damaged skin;
- Do not use while driving, or in the shower or bathtub;
- Do not use together with cold packs or heating pads;
- Do not use while sleeping.