An overactive bladder triggers urinary urgency incontinence. Meanwhile, faecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. Both conditions require proper management and treatment. One option is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS for incontinence. It is a form of electrotherapy that helps restore bladder control and improve the quality of life. The mechanisms at work are endorphin production and pain gating using gentle electric currents. People can conduct TENS by placing surface electrodes on the skin.
Some symptoms of urinary and faecal urgency are frequent urges to urinate or defecate and difficulty in controlling the bladder or bowels. Moreover, affected individuals can experience bowel or bladder leakage and feel a constant need to empty the bladder or bowels. These can affect their everyday life. Fortunately, an electrical stimulator can help with the condition. The following sections will present what TENS is, how it works, and how to use it effectively.
What is TENS for Incontinence?
Professionals typically use TENS therapy to manage acute and chronic pain conditions. These include labour pain and back pain. It involves a small medical device and a set of electrodes. The unit delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the nerves. In particular, the pulses target tibial nerves or nerves in the pelvic floor when using TENS for incontinence.
Electrical stimulation can help strengthen the muscles that control urine and stool flow. Hence, TENS can reduce the symptoms of incontinence for many individuals. Those dealing with stress incontinence, urge incontinence, or mixed incontinence can rely on this safe treatment, as it provides a drug-free, relatively low-risk option.
In addition, TENS therapy is easy to use. People can self-administer it at home without the supervision of a medical practitioner. Nevertheless, it is advisable to seek their advice before its use. The electrical stimulator is typically handy. Thus, users can also bring it with them wherever they go. Consequently, TENS allows them to take a more active role in managing incontinence.
Causes and Risk Factors for Urinary Incontinence
- Age: As people get older, the muscles controlling the bladder weaken. This leads to an increased risk of urinary incontinence.
- Gender: Elderly women are more likely to experience urinary frequency due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts pressure on the bladder muscles and the surrounding tissues, increasing the likelihood of the condition.
- Smoking: Chronic coughing due to smoking can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Hence, this leads to pelvic pain and increased risk of incontinence.
- Medical conditions: Diabetes, neurological disorders, and urinary tract infections can contribute to incontinence.
- Medications: Diuretics and sedatives can increase the potential of developing the condition.
How TENS for Incontinence Works
Individuals can utilise TENS for incontinence to reduce the symptoms of an overactive bladder and bowel urgency. It uses low-level electrical pulses to stimulate the nerves in the pelvic floor muscles, helping improve their strength and control. This can result in better bladder function and reduced instances of involuntary urination and defecation.
The battery-powered device of TENS emits electrical pulses, which enhance the communication between the brain and the muscles. In addition, TENS may also help reduce any discomfort or pain associated with incontinence by blocking the pain messages from reaching the brain. This makes it a comprehensive treatment option for those suffering from this condition.
An electrical stimulation machine can also enhance the production of endorphins. These are natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Hence, increasing their release can have additional benefits, such as improving the overall well-being and mental state of people with the condition. Also, they can combine TENS with pelvic floor muscle training, medication, and lifestyle changes for a more comprehensive approach.
Benefits of TENS Therapy
TENS therapy is an efficient, non-invasive treatment for incontinence. It utilises electrical stimulation instead of inserting catheters. Moreover, TENS is suitable for people who want to avoid pain medicines due to their associated adverse effects. Also, it is fast-acting, as it provides immediate relief within 15 minutes.
Additionally, TENS is cost-effective because it eliminates the need for regular catheter insertions, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, this effective treatment is convenient since it can be done at home with a portable TENS device. Subsequently, it reduces the need for frequent visits to a health company.
How to Conduct TENS for Incontinence
Conducting TENS for incontinence is easy. First, users must prepare the skin and unit by cleaning both with mild soap and water. Removing creams, dirt, and sweat is necessary to ensure proper electrode placement and adherence. Afterwards, they can place the pads near the pelvic area, specifically over the muscles controlling bladder function. They can also attach them to the lower back.
Once individuals have applied the electrodes, they can turn the TENS machine on. They will feel a tingling or pulsating sensation in the pelvic area or lower back. Then, they can adjust the settings to the recommended level for treating incontinence. It is essential to note that people must always begin with the lowest setting to avoid getting electrical shocks.
During the electrical stimulation session, users can engage in regular daily activities or remain still, depending on their preference. The therapy typically lasts about 20 to 30 minutes. However, the duration can vary. They must seek medical advice for proper usage and settings. When the treatment is complete, turn the TENS device off and remove the surface electrode pads from the skin.
Signs to Seek Medical Help
Before using TENS, it is necessary to seek medical help when people experience frequent or sudden changes in urinary habits, such as increased urgency or leakage. These may indicate an underlying medical condition they need to address. Additionally, medical guidance is recommended if there is severe pain in the pelvic region to rule out potential complications.
Also, people should consult a doctor after using TENS if they experience unexpected side effects, like skin irritation or worsening symptoms. Moreover, see a healthcare provider if there is no improvement in incontinence symptoms after using TENS. Professionals can help determine whether alternative treatments or interventions are necessary.
TENS for incontinence is a suitable alternative option to consider treating its symptoms. It is a natural pain relief that delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the nerves that control the pelvic floor muscles. Then, activating the pain gate mechanism and stimulating the release of endorphins helps improve the strength and coordination of the muscles. Through TENS, individuals can experience a reduction in their symptoms of incontinence and an improvement in their quality of life.
To conduct electrical nerve stimulation, users should place the electrodes on specific points near the area of discomfort. These could be lower back or pelvic region for incontinence treatment. The TENS machine can then be set to deliver a mild electrical current to these points, which can be adjusted to different comfort levels. Regular TENS sessions with pelvic floor exercises and other lifestyle modifications can offer a comprehensive approach to managing the condition.