Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation (TENS) machine is an alternative therapy for treating body pains by the aid of low voltage electrical impulses. These portable, battery operated machines can be placed on the skin with the help of sticky pads which act as electrodes that send electrical pulses to the area of pain. Unlike medications, the TENS unit works locally without affecting the whole body.
How does it work?
The machine sends electrical impulses of various frequencies that travel through the nerve fibers over the area of pain. These electrical impulses are said to distort or block the pain signals from reaching the brain. Also, the electricity produced stimulates the body to produce endorphins, which are the natural painkillers in our system. The user can adjust the frequency and interval of the impulses; it can be set as per the instructions of your physical therapist.
Uses of TENS units
Though it is used to relieve pain, different types of TENS units are used for different types of pains. These are some of the applications of TENS units.
- The most used TENS units are for treating muscular and joint pains such as arthritis.
- TENS machines are used to treat neck pain, lower back pain, bursitis, etc.
- In dentistry, it is used to treat non-odontogenic orificial pain.
- To treat sports related injuries.
- For labor pains, many manufacturers are promoting these units to treat sudden labor pains.
- TENS units are claimed to relieve period cramps and mild migraines.
- TENS units are rarely used for the treatment of cancer pains; also, for treating insomnia and tiredness.
Different TENS units are used for different conditions. You have to consult a doctor or a physical therapist to assess the type of pain and then choose the best TENS unit according to your condition.
Precautions and contradictions of using a TENS unit
Though TENS machines don’t have side effects like the chemical pain killers, there are precautions and contradictions for using them.
- It’s highly recommended to seek the advice of a doctor or a physiotherapist before using a TENS unit.
- People with epilepsy should not use the TENS machines. Also, people with certain heart disease are supposed not to use these machines.
- Heart patients with pacemakers installed in them shouldn’t undergo TENS treatment often.
- TENS machine shouldn’t be used on broken or damaged skin. Avoid placing the machine over a wounded area.
- The electrodes should not be placed over the eyes, since the pulses may cause an increase in the intraocular pressure.
- Use on kids should be avoided, and it shouldn’t be placed on the neck of children and adults alike.
- TENS units shouldn’t be used while taking a shower, during driving and while using any machinery.
- Using the machine directly over the spinal column should be avoided.
These are some of the precautions that needed before using a TENS unit. Before buying yourself one, make sure that you consult a physician and also read TENS unit reviews to get a better understanding about the product and what condition it should be used for.