Are you sick and tired of suffering from intense pain each and every day? Depending on the severity of the pain, there is a good chance that it can be debilitating. It can most definitely decrease your quality of life. Suffice to say, you’ll definitely feel the urge to find relief as soon as humanly possible. TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machines are designed to provide effective pain relief for pretty much all different types of chronic pain. Currently, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the widely used form of electroanalgesia. Medical Conditions Reports show that TENS give initial pain relief in 70% to 80% of patients. Within this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to invest in a good TENS unit.
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TENS Machine Buying Guide
There are tons of TENS machines on the market, but none of them are identical. Therefore, it can be difficult for consumers to pinpoint the very best one for their individualistic needs. In order to ensure that you get the relief that you need, it is pertinent to make your choice carefully. Below, you will find tips that can help lead you in the right direction.
It is incredibly important to inspect the overall size of the unit. Obviously, you’re going to experience pain throughout the day. You may experience an outbreak at work or at a friend’s house on the weekend. When this happens, you’ll want to be able to use the massager to obtain the relief that is needed. This is why you should select a compact machine. Choosing one that fits into your pocket is a good idea.
These machines have improved significantly over the years. Now, some of them are actually equipped with rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable TENS machines will usually be more expensive than the conventional alternatives. Nevertheless, they can provide you with an extensive amount of freedom. If you want the added freedom, you should not hesitate to buy a rechargeable machine. However, if you want relief without breaking the bank, a conventional model should do the trick.
There are many different types of massages and each of them works differently. Some a good for backpain, while others are best for shoulder pain. This is why you need to carefully inspect the unit’s versatility. Choosing a unit that is capable of doing it all is very wise. It should be able to press, squeeze, knead and stroke. This will ensure that you’re most definitely able to get the relief that you need when you need it!
Most TENS machines will come with a warranty. This may not improve the overall performance of the machine, but it can go a long way towards protecting your money. With this in mind, you should always go to great lengths to get the lengthiest warranty possible. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a unit with a lifetime warranty.
Best TENS Machines in UK 2021
How does TENS treat pains?
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a non-invasive treatment that has no known side effects. It does not cause drowsiness or nausea. Through TENS, a painless electrical current is being sent to specific nerves. The mild current then stimulates the body to create endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killing substances. It is used to relieve pain by blocking pain messages to the brain through the spinal cord and other peripheral nervous system. With TENS, the electrodes are situated around the pain area or acupuncture sites.
Depending on which kind of treatment, the manner of how the pain is being lessened could be via blocking the pain messages or producing endorphins. With high frequency TENS treatment, the TENS signal being produced is much stronger than the pain messages. Thus, the pain messages are being blocked in the spinal cord before it even reaches the brain. This will produce a buzzing sensation between the electrodes. This creates a longer relief and could be administered for 30 to 60 minutes. It is the quickest way of relieving pain.
On the other hand, with low frequency treatment, the body is being stimulated to create endorphins. There is a visible muscle twitching when TENS treatment is being applied in this manner. The endorphins will act as blockage for interrupting pain messages along the nerves. The result of this treatment can last longer. However, for it to be effective, treatment needs to take longer.
Also, for the treatment to become effective, the site where the electrodes should be placed is important. Usually, it should be directly on the pain area. However, it was also proven that best results are attained when electrodes are placed around the pain site or around or over the acupuncture sites.
What conditions can TENS treat?
Once you experience pain, it is important to have it diagnosed by a medical practitioner. Often times, this is already a symptom of another ailment. There are times that these pains would cause us discomfort, depression and would restrict us with our normal activities. TENS can treat many painful conditions, whether acute or chronic pain.
Here are some common conditions that TENS can treat:
• Ankylosing spondylosis
• Acute sprains, sports and occupational injuries
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Fibrosistis/myofascial pain syndromes
• Labour pain
• Low back pain
• Migraine and headaches
• Neck pain, cervical spondylosis, whiplash injuries
• Nausea and vomiting
• Osteoarthritis of joints
• Peripheral nerve injuries and neuropathy of various causes
• Phantom limb pain
• Post herpeticneuralgia
• Post operative neuralgia and scar tissue pain
• Pain in cancer and other terminal ailments
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Referred pain such as sciatica
• Tendonitis/ bursitis
• Stress and insomnia
• Other pain conditions.
However, TENS is not suitable and should not be administered for these situations:
• Those who have cardiac problems.
• Those with carotid sinus.
• Directly in a wound/cut.
• Over the uterus during pregnancy unless for labour pain.
• Directly over the eyes, mouth, front and side of neck.
• Those with pacemaker.
• Those who are emotionally disturbed or have dementia.
• If pain is not diagnosed by the doctor.
TENS History and Theory
The usage of therapeutic electrical stimulation to reduce pain can be traced way back since the early times. On 2500 BC, during the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty, stone carvings show that to treat pain, early people used electric fish. And on 46 AD, it was recorded by Scribonious Largus, a Roman physician that the electrical powers of a fish was used for curing gout and headache. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the electric catfish and electric rays were being used for treating pain in some parts of the world.
It was during the mid-eighteenth century that the electostimulation using static electrical machines gain its popularity. However, since in the twentieth century, there have been a lot of analgesic drugs produced, electrostimulation fell out in the options in reducing pain.
It was on 1965, when a landmark paper written by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall entitled “Pain Mechanism: A New Theory”, did the use of TENS made its way to present clinical medicine. Its use expanded from pain clinics to surgeries, labor wards, emergency departments, operating rooms and even self-care.
There are two accepted theories on how TENS works. These are the following:
1. The Gate Control Theory
In this theory, when nerves are stimulated electronically, a gate mechanism is being closed in the spinal cord that block the pain message from reaching the brain. In here, the TENS message is carried faster to the spinal cord that the pain message. This TENS treatment is also called conventional or high frequency treatment. This applies when the pulse rate is at 60 to 80 pulses per second or more. There is a tingling or buzzing sensation with this treatment. This is the quickest way of relieving pain and it can provide many hours of relief even after a treatment of about an hour.
2. Acupuncture-like TENS
Acupuncture-like TENS is also known as low frequency TENS treatment. In here, the body is being stimulated to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killing substances. This applies when the pulse rate is at or below 4 pulses per second. These low frequency treatments create a tapping or pulsating sensations. When adjusted, low frequency treatment produces slight muscle twitching. Compared to high frequency treatment, this treatment will take longer for the pain to lessen. Treatment can last at least 20-30 minutes for it to be effective. But a 30-60 minute treatment can give relief for a longer period or even days.
You should always remember that different people have different degree of pain relief. And usually the result will depend on how appropriate the electrode position was selected and the frequency setting for the pain was chosen. You can never guess how effective TENS treatment will work not until you try it yourself.
Getting Started with a TENS Unit
A TENS unit has electric power unit that is connected by wires to electrodes. These electrodes are placed on the patient’s skin. Once the unit is switched on, electrical currents are being sent to the body. A unit usually consists of generators, battery and set of electrodes. This unit is actually small and it is programmable.
It is normal for patients to feel tingling sensation or warmth during the treatment. TENS is mostly being used by physical therapists. It can also be administered at home using portable TENS unit, but a prescription is needed to secure a system.
How to set up your TENS unit
- Properly set the unit in accordance with instructions in the booklet that accompanies the TENS unit. Usually the settings are as follows: Amplitude- it should be at a low or comfortable level. Pulse width at 10 to 1000 microseconds. Pulse rate at 80 to 100 impulses per seconds and 0.5 to 10 Hz for high stimulus intensity.
- Clean the area of the skin. Make sure that there is no powder or grease in this area.
- Place electrodes to your skin. If you will be using carbon rubber electrodes, make sure to apply small amount of gel.
- While being treated, put yourself in a comfortable mode. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the steps. Remember to take note of the pain level and record it on paper. You can use a scale of 0-100, 0 for no pain and 100 for the worst.
- After and hour, switch off the unit. You can let the electrodes stand in place if you want to begin another treatment after an hour. However, if you are using carbon rubber electrodes, you can wipe off the gel. Take note of the pain level again.
- You can repeat the same procedure. You may want to decide on the length of the nest treatment. Just make sure to take note of the level of pain before and after each treatment. This will help when you will gauge the result of each treatment.
- You may decide on the frequency of treatment you want per day and if you want continuous treatment. This depends on the severity of the pain.
- You may adjust the TENS unit setting then to a different mode so as to get better results.
Here are the general guidelines when using TENS unit for pain relief
- Attach the electrodes over the area where you feel pain and stimulate. You can move the electrodes on different area to get the best result.
- You should not feel any discomfort. The TENS unit should be set in a manner where the sensation is at a tolerable level.
- As the TENS unit battery is about to drain, you need to increase the intensity to maintain the level of stimulation output.
- Time duration for a high or conventional TENS treatment should be at least 30 to 60 minutes. For low frequency, it should for 30 minutes and can be repeated after 90 minutes once or twice a day.
- There are times that a certain setting would give you the relief you wanted while there are others that needs to vary the setting so that they would reduce the pain they feel. You can always seek advice with your medical practitioner for this.
- It is not advisable to use the TENS unit when you are about to sleep. You may damage the electrodes when you roll over.
- Electrodes should be removed from the skin area everyday. You need to properly clean the skin to avoid irritations. You should not place the electrodes exactly on the same area everyday. Make sure to move the electrodes slightly around the area.
Please remember that a TENS unit does not cure the problem causing pain to your body. However, it helps lessen the pain. It can also help in the healing process of the body since it can stimulate anti-inflammatory substances. The best result and determinant that the treatment is definitely a success is the comfort that would be felt by the patient. Anyway, this is the main goal for using a TENS unit!