As more and more alternative medicine is becoming popular, it’s not surprising that people would shy away from drugs to ease their pain and look for something that isn’t as likely to have side effects. The TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine is one of the more popular methods for easing pain and can now be found easily on the market.
While TENS can aid with all types of pain relief, it is particularly popular among those who suffer from chronic pain and who are usually becoming resistant to pharmaceutical painkillers. Using stronger and stronger drugs in order to make it through the day doesn’t mesh with everyone’s philosophy and that’s why they start looking for alternatives like TENS.
How It Works
Essentially, TENS machines work by shooting electrical pulses through electrodes that are attached to the skin. These pulses interrupt the electrical signals that are sent to the brain to let it know that your body is hurting. By interrupting them, the pain is eased or even eliminated.
There are two ways the TENS machine is thought to work.
Low Frequency: The lower frequencies, 2-5 Hz, are believed to cause the body to react. The reaction creates natural painkillers, or endorphins. The endorphins block the pain naturally and while popular, this isn’t the usual method of using TENS.
High Frequency: For more intense pain, higher frequencies, 90-130 Hz, work to actually interrupt those pain signals being sent to the brain. This is the most common use for the machine and while you start slow, it’s not uncommon to need to up the frequency to find the best block.
How to Use It
Your machine should come with detailed instructions, which should be followed. However, there are some general use instructions that we can list here.
Make sure the machine is off before applying the electrodes. You can test to ensure that it’s working by turning it on while holding the pads in your fingers. If it tingles, it’s working.
When putting the electrode pads on, be sure to avoid any sensitive or irritated areas and only apply to clean skin on either side of the pain. Electrodes need to be covered in conductive gel and must be placed at least an inch apart, preferably a little further. Tape them down if you plan to be moving around much.
Turn the machine on at its lowest setting and gradually turn it up until you can feel the tingle. You will need to feel a fairly strong sensation, but not painful. If the current causes muscles to contract, turn it down. The length of the session is up to you. It will need to be at least 45-60 min. but you can safely use the machine for up to 12 hours. At the end of the session, turn it off and remove the pads.
Who Can Use TENS
This technology isn’t best for everyone. Some people get more of a benefit than others and some won’t notice much of a difference in pain levels at all when using TENS. Also, if you are pregnant, have a pacemaker, epilepsy or a heart disease, you should stay away from this type of treatment. In some cases, TENS is used during labor, but in this case, you would need to consult a doctor.
As an alternative pain treatment, you’ll find that this works best on muscle pains, or those in the joints or caused by nerves. The electrical pulses are far less effective on things like headaches, chest pains or stomachaches and intestinal issues. That being said, there aren’t any real side effects from the use of this machine, so you can certainly experiment to find out whether or not it works for you.
TENS can be a useful alternative to drugs. It’s worth trying if you suffer from chronic pain.
Or, you can simply try these drops.
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