If you’re one of the many people out there who suffers from some sort of chronic or acute pain you may have heard of TENS therapy? But have you actually tried this alternative treatment? Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) utilizes low voltage electrical current, providing pain relief for a number of different problems. The treatment is carried out with a small (usually battery powered) device, called a TENS unit. One of the most popular reasons for using a TENS unit is because the therapy is completely drug free.
How does a TENS unit work?
Attached to the unit are a series of wires (the number of wires depends on the type of device and how many areas it can treat at the same time). These wires have self-adhesive electrodes attached to the end, they are placed on the site of pain. Low voltage electrical current is then sent from the TENS unit, through the wires and to the electrodes. This gently shocks the body and stimulates the nerves, which provides the pain relief. One theory is that the stimulation of the nerves blocks pain signals to the brain. The other theory is that stimulating the nerves makes the body produce more endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers).
What can TENS therapy help with?
You won’t be surprised to read that the most common complaint that TENS therapy is used to treat is back pain. It’s now estimated that around 100 million Americans suffer from some sort of chronic pain. A large proportion of this is people who suffer from back pain. It’s hardly surprising though when you consider that so many jobs now require the worker to sit in a chair, in front of a computer all day. People who have back pain are using TENS units to get some welcome relief. There are even a number of special devices that have been designed to treat the lower back region. These include TENS belts (which wrap around the waist) and the wireless TENS unit (adheres to the lower back).
TENS therapy can help with the following:
- Back pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Women who are in labor (after a full 9 months)
Please be aware that you should check with your doctor or medical professional before trying TENS therapy. The treatment is suitable for most but there are a few exceptions. Checking first will ensure that it is not going to cause any problems for you. An example of who TENS is not suitable for is those with a pacemaker (or similar device) fitted. The TENS unit can potentially cause interference with the pacemaker. If you are unsure, always check first.
How to select a TENS unit
There are a large number of devices on the market and they vary in price. To get up and running you can pick up an entry level TENS unit for about $20. Higher end devices can run into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. If you have never used a TENS unit before or don’t have any prior knowledge, the best thing you can do to start with is read some TENS unit reviews. Gauge what existing users think about their devices and find out the pros and cons for the TENS units in your price range. Another important consideration is the features of the device, there’s no point in buying a featured-packed machine that has functions you will never use. If you are buying your first TENS unit it may make more sense to go for an affordable device. This way you will be able to see if it’s right for you and gain a bit of experience in using TENS unit. It is easy enough to upgrade at a later date if you feel that you will benefit from a device with more features.