TENS has the full meaning to be Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation and works by stimulating the sensory nerves with a small electrical charge so as to relieve the user from pain which are the most common pain relieving devices. TENS has been approved by the FDA and has become one of the most common preferences for pain management. TENS is also a drug free approach to pain relief which allows people with certain allergies, or who are against using pain medication to use a pain management treatment that they can live with. To enable the usage of a TENS unit, it is required one must first visit the doctor to explain the pain issues and find out if using a TENS unit is a reliable option. This helps the physician to make sure one is applicable for the device and once given approval, one can anchor the unit to one’s body and stimulate the electrodes that are causing pain. Relief is provided in much the same manner that acupuncture provides relief. By stimulating the damaged areas where the pain is occurring, one experiences relief in less than thirty minutes. It is important to understand that the delay is necessary because of the manner the TENS system works. While it might take a little longer to get the full effect of the system it is also one of the lasting means to get pain relief.
A TENS unit is small, convenient and effective, about the size of a tape recorder. It is also one of the most efficient ways to treat any pain that might be experienced. The TENS unit is portable and easy to carry with you anywhere. TENS Units provide non-pharmaceutical pain control which can diminish dependency on pain medications. They are easy for patients to manage and can be worn during everyday activities such as at work and during recreational activities. They are safe and simple to use without the risks associated with surgery or heavy duty narcotic medications’ patients can think clearly without living in a “narcotic fog”, thereby living more actively and productively. The device uses an electric current in order to stimulate the nerves, promote healing and stop the pain. The devices are inexpensive and non-addictive. One can only get a TENS unit with the approval of a doctor because they are only available via prescription. TENS is also not recommended for pregnant women or anyone wearing a pacemaker. The higher charges are around 50 Hz and the lower end of the scale will be around 10 Hz. Both of them cause contractions where ever they are applied and will jolt the nerves and stimulate a healing sensation, eradicating the pain. TENS is one of the safest and most effective ways to treat systematic pain whether it comes from arthritis, bursitis or other cause of pain that it is said to treat. pain management is extremely important especially for individuals who are forced to live in agony or discomfort. Depending on the manner of pain one is dealing with, it might not be something that can be treated. While pain is usually a good thing in that it acts as a sensor for our body to know when something is wrong, it is an issue when it can’t be got rid of at the moment which can be both physically and emotionally draining. Another advantage is that the device won’t hurt or cause additional pain as long as they are used properly’ While they do use electric currents which are not high enough to cause any pain or discomfort, the device also enables one to deal with any nasty side effects that often come from pain medication’ They can be small battery powered devices like the size of an iPod, designed to relieve post-operative, acute, and chronic pain. It is a safe non-invasive drugfree method of pain management that can help decrease the need for pain medication and also supplement treatment being received for pain control. It is used for pain caused by peripheral nerves and not centrally derived pain. TENS Units are prescription only devices. Sometimes they have attachments that go on your pants or pockets so that they are easy to bring with you.
The electrical stimulation from TENS machines relieves pain by stimulating peripheral nerves through what is termed the gate control mechanism. The gate control theory of pain suggests that in the spinal cord, there is a control mechanism acting as a gate. TENS units are often used along with additional non-operative treatments such as Neck Pain, Back Pain, Arthritis, Sciatica, headaches, Muscular Strains, TMJ Disorder, Radiculopathy, pain from herniated discs, mid back pain, upper back pain, tendonitis, Sports Injuries, bursitis, physical therapy, physiotherapy, pain management, chiropractic, spinal decompression, manipulation under anesthesia. TENS units will not cure a disease or pain problem. They are of no curative value. It is a symptomatic treatment which suppresses pain sensation.
TENS UNIT SIDE EFFECTS PRECAUTIONS
- Avoid using TENS for persons using a CARDIAC PACEMAKER
- Prevent if from patients having any form of malignancy.
- Various conditions where circulation is impaired.
- Persons with a heart condition.
- By someone with epilepsy
- Avoid usage around the head with the electrodes placed on the neck near carotid, it may not be used transcerebrally across the head.
- Avoid usage over the carotid sinus (where the jaw meets the neck), over metal implants or in conjunction with sleep apnea or heart monitors.
TENS UNIT PLACEMENT AND HOW TO USE A TENS UNIT
In order to obtain the best degree of pain relief with TENS, do follow the following guidelines:
- Take note of exactly where the pain is located. Outline the most concise and tender area of the pain.
- Always use two pads (one channel) or four pads (two channels) at the same time depending upon the type of TENS unit that one has as it does not work with just one pad.
- One can alter the flow of the electrical sensation if one changes the distance between the electrode pads and/or the direction of the pads.
- The pads can be placed in one of three directions (vertical, horizontal or angulated).
- The pads should never touch and should be at least, 1 inch apart. As the distance between the two pads increases the effectiveness decreases.
- It is recommended not to place the pads directly over a joint such as the knee, elbow or ankle as its movement can alter the adherence of the pad.
Some advice on which direction to place the pads:
- When the pain extends across a significant distance of the body (e.g. low back to just above the back of the knee): Place one of the pads vertically at the top of the pain and the other pad vertically at the bottom of the pain.
- When the pain is more focused over a smaller area (e.g. calf pain): Place pads in parallel on each side of the pain.
- When the pain overlaps a joint (e.g. elbow pain): Place each pad on the muscle or soft tissue just above and below the joint in a horizontal and parallel direction.
- When the pain is wide (e.g. between your shoulders below the neck): Place the pads to the left and right side of your spine in a vertical direction. If pain extends out even further above or below the shoulder area, the pads can be angulated to encompass the region of discomfort.
HOW A TENS UNIT WORK
A TENS unit is a device that transmits small square electrical pulses to the electrodes, which transmit this electrical pulse to the underlying nerves. The fundamental components of a TENS unit are the electrodes, a highly advanced computer chip, and an electrical battery source. The small amount of electricity is transmitted through the computer component then to the electrodes, which transmits the electrical waveform through the skin to the underlying nerves. The user can personalize the pulse frequency, which is the strength of the electrical current given to the electrode (this should be accomplished in conjunction with the prescribing provider). Usually, the prescribing provider will show the patient how to use the device and show any advisable setting options.
The electrical impulses from TENS units represent a non-noxious input. This input suppresses pain by closing the gate to incoming noxious input, such as pain from an arthritic back. If the gate is closed by non-noxious stimuli, such as that provided by TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimuli), then the body will not be able to process the noxious stimuli and pain will be therefore reduced. There are two types of cells in the area of the spinal cord where signals come into. One is “inhibitory” and the other is “transmission”. Transmission cells are activated by incoming signals and when a critical threshold level is reached, pain starts as the gate opens and the brain receives those signals and processes them as pain. The job of the inhibitory cells is to inhibit activation of the transmission cells, thereby closing the gate and keeping it closed. The job of a TENS unit is to excite the inhibitory cells and close the gate. TENS machines produce two I different current frequencies below the pain threshold that are tolerated by patients. This way, they close the gate rather than open it.