TENS machines for pains works by transmitting stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin and along the nerve strands.
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and are predominately used for nerve-related pain conditions.
These stimulating pulses help prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.
Furthermore, Tens devices also help stimulate the body to produce higher levels of its own natural painkillers, called Endorphins.
For many decades, the most popular form of electrotherapy or neuromodulation has been transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Other kinds of electrical stimulation are also interesting, and promising, like deeper stimulation that involves zapping the brain and spinal cord for beneficial effects.
How to use a TENS unit
- Place the electrodes according to the instructions included with the unit in order to ensure the safe and effective use of the TENS device.
- Slowly turn the intensity up until you first feel a tingling or buzzing sensation. Then, you can continue to increase the intensity until it feels strong but comfortable.
- TENS units often have different programs or settings that feel different. E.g pulsing versus tingling, constant versus on and off). Try these different programs so you can have the opportunity to see what feels the best and provides the most pain relief.
- It is a good idea to start with a 10-15 minute program to see how your body responds. But in total, it is safe to use for up to 30 minutes.
How does a TENS unit work?
If you stick a couple of electrodes on your skin and pump an electric current through your body tissues, you will tickle your nerves and stimulate interesting sensations and/or some mild muscle reactions (contractions), which may temporarily drown or disrupt pain.
For instance, you can boost the intensity and frequency of the TENS unit to get more muscle contraction, and with a powerful enough unit, it is possible to shock yourself.
Thus, it is possible that the right setting makes all the difference. However, the topic of TENS unit efficacy is endlessly debatable, even though it is obvious that TENS doesn’t work many miracles.
Some people even argue that it probably mostly doesn’t work much better for most pain than an aspirin, and it’s not much good for anything else except maybe some relaxation or gently exercising muscles.
However, the electrical impulses from the TENS unit excite the sensory nerves and can provide varying degrees of pain relief by activating the body’s natural pain-relieving system and/or the nervous system’s ability to use the electrical impulses to interfere with the pain messages being sent to the brain.
TENS are proven effective
But even though the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units have been proven to be wildly effective for years and years at destroying pain right at the source, people are still skeptical that shooting low-level electricity through the body is going to have any beneficial results whatsoever.
Thanks to the body’s biochemistry, the way that nerves use electrical signals and impulses to transmit pain throughout the central nervous system.
Fortunately enough, you can hijack and intercept these pain signals, even erasing them completely at the source.
This is where TENS units come in and are able to give you all of the pain relief benefits you’ve been hoping for without any negative side effects caused by chemical ingestion or intervention.
Most people can safely and effectively use a home TENS unit to obtain pain relief, but occasionally, there are reasons to not use the TENS unit.
Such reasons include the following:
- Over skin lesions
- An implanted electronic device(e.g pacemaker)
- Over the front of the neck/carotid artery
Although there is a tiny risk of mild shock from faulty devices, consumer TENS units are made too weak to be dangerous, and the risk of getting juiced in a medical setting is extremely low.
However, too much use and self-treatment might cause some skin irritation around the electrodes.
For further questions about TENS units and whether or not electrotherapy is right for you, please consult with a medical professional like a Physical Therapist.
TENS costs and safety
TENS units can cost around $100, or even less for a few bargain models.
However, you spend several hundred on more power, options, or trendiness.
Scientific evidence that TENS works for pain?
There is evidence that TENS helps the pain, but it’s a bit incomplete.
There have been enough studies and several reviews of the studies, however, a lot of the reviews were inconclusive, because such reviews were done with a lot of weak data.