Electrical stimulating devices have been used in medicine for many years.
A TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) is a lightweight, battery-powered device a little larger than a deck of cards. It can clip to your belt, making it portable.
The Tens device has 2 leads, or wires, that clip to adhesive patches. These patches are placed on the skin over the site of the pain. The unit provides electrical stimulation to the painful area altering one’s perception of the pain they are experiencing.
When we suffer an injury, our body naturally protects the injured area with muscle guarding, or tightening of the muscles. This response can be the start of a cycle that often causes a decreased range of motion, or immobilization.
This immobilization can lead to reduced circulation, decreased blood supply, build-up of metabolic waste, and pain. Nerve receptors at the site of injury send a pain message to the spinal cord and brain. A TENS unit can help to alter this message, preventing or breaking the cycle.
TENS units work by sending stimulating pulses across the skin along the sensory nerves. These stimulating pulses help prevent, or suppress, the pain signals from reaching the brain, thereby decreasing the pain.
TENS units have different frequencies and impulse levels. Individuals using a TENS unit have the ability to control the intensity and pulse rate of the stimulation. It can be increased or decreased as tolerated. The TENS can be used as often as desired.
The unit itself can stay in place for hours and just be turned on and off as needed.
TENS units also help to stimulate our body to produce higher levels of our own natural painkiller, called endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals made by our body to reduce or prevent pain.
Management of pain, both acute and chronic, can be difficult. Utilizing a TENS unit when appropriate allows for pain reduction without the potential side effects of medications.
A TENS unit can be used during a physical therapy session or in the comfort of home. It is a cost-effective, non-invasive treatment of pain with proven results.