Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses low-voltage currents to relieve pain. The first wearable TENS unit was used in the 70s as a test for alleviating migraine and chronic back pain. However, TENS electrotherapy also proves to reduce symptoms from more health conditions that become essential in hospitals and physical therapy clinics. Today, modern TENS devices are available for personal or home use. Personal units like the iTENS from iTENS Australia or Omron TENS machine are suitable for managing acute and chronic pain.
A TENS machine consists of electrodes for delivering mild electrical impulses to stimulate the nearby nerves. The iTENS or Omron TENS machine works under two pain management principles: the Pain Gating theory and the Natural Opioid system. The Gate Control theory states that electrical stimulation overrides the pain signals passing in the spinal cord. During TENS therapy, the nerve pathways or “gates” closes, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Another function of TENS is the release of more endorphins in the body. Endorphins are natural hormones that create “feel-good” sensations. They interact with the receptors in the brain to help suppress pain perception. That is why they are called the body’s natural painkillers.
Choosing a TENS Machine
TENS can help manage pain for various conditions. For example, it effectively reduces symptoms of chronic ailments such as osteoarthritis, sciatica, fibromyalgia, ankle tendonitis, and period pain. Additionally, people with injuries and recovering from surgery use TENS to minimise discomfort and help in faster recovery. Particularly, TENS help boost blood circulation in the affected area, soothing sore muscles or damaged nerves. The iTENS and Omron TENS machines are portable, battery-operated devices to help manage pain at home or on the go. However, choosing the right device can be challenging with the variation and similarities of TENS devices in the market. To help pick the right TENS machine, you should check each unit’s features and programs. The considerations when choosing a device include:
- Battery – Rechargeable or AA batteries
- Automatic Treatment Modes
- Wired or wireless electrodes: The Omron has wires, whereas the iTENS is entirely wireless.
- Intensity levels
- Pads sizes
- Massage options
- Easy to use buttons
iTENS vs Omron TENS: Comparison of Programs and Features
Pain management is more efficient with the availability of pre-set programs or modes. Omron offers wireless and wired TENS units for pain relief, depending on the user’s preference. Additionally, the Omron TENS machine provides several built-in modes based on body areas or conditions. For example, the devices have treatments for body areas, including the arms, waist, lower back, shoulder, joints, and legs. Moreover, it also includes massage options such as tapping, rubbing, kneading and pushing. Meanwhile, iTENS Australia offers pain treatment through the wireless iTENS device. The iTENS utilises wireless electrodes with Bluetooth connectivity. The device syncs to a smartphone app for more convenient pain management. On the other hand, the Omron device connects to its electrodes via wires.
The pre-set parameters of iTENS or Omron TENS machines make it easy to facilitate pain relief. In particular, the wireless iTENS features eleven therapy modes for body parts and thirteen programs for ailments. Moreover, the built-in modes have fixed settings designed to optimally relieve pain for each condition. In addition, the wider selection of pain treatments from the iTENS app makes it more cost-efficient. For example, you can begin treatment by selecting the appropriate therapy from the menu. The available TENS therapy pre-set settings within the app of the wireless iTENS are:
Additionally, the Omron TENS machine and the iTENS can help stimulate the muscles through the following modes:
TENS Intensity Guide
TENS devices rely on adjustable frequency to effectively reduce pain. The iTENS or Omron TENS machine has programmable settings to help control the pain. High-frequency stimulation helps intercept the pain signals and reduce pain through the Gate Control Theory. On the other hand, low-frequency TENS activates endorphin release and boosts blood circulation. The iTENS device enables you to manage the intensity level according to your condition or pain tolerance. For example, if your symptoms are mild, you may choose mild or low intensity. Additionally, the iTENS app allows you to modulate the stimulation you can set the power from mild, moderate, and severe pain through the iTENS app.
TENS therapy is a safe and non-invasive way of managing pain. The device creates a mild tingling sensation during the session. The currents should be firm but not uncomfortable or overpowering. Furthermore, there should be no contractions while using the iTENS or Omron TENS machine. Also, avoid turning the intensity too high to prevent further harm. The iTENS unit lets you adjust the parameters in manual mode. You may set the pulse rate, pulse width, waveforms, and duration to start the therapy. Since pain relief can vary individually, experimenting with different TENS settings, allow you to find the most effective results. Lastly, you may save your customised settings and access them later for subsequent sessions.
The iTENS and Omron TENS Pads
Each TENS unit utilises electrode pads to deliver electrical stimulation. The currents pass through the skin through the electrode pads near the affected area. Additionally, each TENS unit comes with electrode pads of different shapes and sizes. For example, the Omron TENS machine has a set of wired and wireless electrode pads. You may get the replacement pads in standard and large sizes. Alternatively, iTENS Australia provides three pad types to suit different pain management. The wireless iTENS have small, large, and long strip wing kits. The small wings are appropriate for small or tricky areas such as the joints. For instance, small wings are ideal for knee, elbow, and ankle pain. In contrast, the large wing kits are suitable for broader areas for maximum coverage. Lastly, the iTENS long strip can be used on elongated treatment areas (sciatica). Nowadays, many would prefer wireless pads because they allow more movement.
Benefits of Wireless TENS
Many people manage pain by considering its safety and effectiveness. TENS therapy is a safe, drug-free alternative to oral medicines. Despite long-term use, the iTENS or Omron TENS machine does not produce adverse side effects. Therefore, you can use a TENS machine frequently as needed. Additionally, the slim, lightweight, and wireless gel pads of iTENS enable you to manage pain without movement restrictions. You can discreetly wear the wireless electrode pads under your clothes and manage pain while at work, doing household chores, or exercising. Furthermore, you may bring a TENS machine to treat pain conveniently at any time or place. However, a wireless TENS like the iTENS is more portable because of the absence of lead cables that often get tangled. Lastly, TENS are medical-grade devices that do not need a prescription. Therefore, you may purchase pro-grade TENS devices over the counter or online through iTENS Australia.