Menstrual cramps can be incredibly painful and disruptive to normal activities and quality of life. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for period cramps. It is an electrical device that works by delivering electrical pulses to the nerves through electrodes. This electrical stimulation functions in various ways. It can block pain signals travelling through the brain, triggering the release of endorphins and increasing blood flow in the treatment area.
Millions of women experience painful periods each month, and finding effective relief can be challenging. Traditional treatment options, such as pills for pain relief, heating pads, or hot water bottles, may not always provide the desired results. Fortunately, there are alternative options available, and one of them is a TENS machine. This article will present how to use TENS for period cramps, including how it works and how to operate the unit.
What is a TENS Machine for Period Cramps?
A TENS machine for period cramps is a battery-powered device that sends electrical impulses to the body. Pain specialists and healthcare professionals use the device to address health conditions, whether acute or chronic pain. Fortunately, the advancement in technology gave rise to the availability of personal TENS units. Thus, many women can use it for managing period pain.
The machine for period pain comes in both wired and wireless forms. Wired devices use lead cables to attach the electrodes to the central unit. On the other hand, wireless devices eliminate the need for wires and usually have rechargeable batteries. Nevertheless, users can control the treatment session manually or through a smartphone via Bluetooth technology.
Many TENS machine units feature adjustable settings. This allows users to control the pulse amplitudes, pulse width, and frequency. Hence, this customisation helps individuals find the most effective pulse therapy for their specific needs. Also, some TENS devices have pre-set programs tailored for different types of conditions, including menstrual pain. Thus, it provides convenience to users.
Benefits of Electrotherapy
- Non-invasive: one of the primary benefits of TENS is that it is a non-invasive method of pain relief. It does not require needles, incisions, or surgery.
- Drug-free: this is particularly advantageous for people who prefer to avoid the potential side effects of pharmaceutical treatments.
- Portable: many TENS units are compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry. This enables people to use the device discreetly and conveniently.
- Customisable: TENS offers modifiable settings. Hence, it allows users to adjust the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical stimulation.
- Cost-effective: it eliminates the ongoing cost of medicines or frequent visits to health professionals.
How a TENS Machine for Period Cramps Works
The TENS machine for period cramps works by using an electrical current. Accordingly, this functions through several mechanisms. The electrical pulses from TENS can stimulate the production of endorphins, which are natural chemicals that act as pain relievers. Hence, it can help to reduce the intense sensation of pain and promote a sense of well-being.
Another mechanism through which TENS works is based on Pain Gate Theory. According to this theory, the spinal cord contains “gates” that can open or close to control the transmission of pain signals to the brain. When a TENS unit delivers electric current, it can effectively close these pain gates, limiting the transmission of pain signals. Thus, it provides relief from period cramps.
In addition, TENS therapy may have an impact on blood circulation. By delivering electrical stimulation, TENS can help promote blood flow. This can aid in reducing muscle spasms and cramping. As a result, it potentially contributes to the relief of menstrual discomfort. By leveraging these mechanisms, TENS offers a non-invasive and drug-free approach to managing cramps.
Low and High Frequencies
TENS devices operate by delivering electrical impulses. These currents are characterised by a range of frequencies. When TENS stream pulses at low frequencies (1 to 10 Hz), it can produce a set of responses in the body. It primarily targets the opioid receptors of the body, which are involved in pain modulation.
Conversely, high-frequency pulses (above 50 Hz) stimulate sensory nerves in the body. When these nerves are activated, they can transmit signals that override or block pain signals to the brain. Low frequencies are beneficial for chronic conditions, while high frequencies are valuable for acute conditions.
How to Operate a TENS Machine for Period Cramps
In operating a TENS machine for period cramps, start by connecting the electrodes to the unit using wires or a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless. Ensure that the unit is off before making any connections. After that, determine and clean the treatment area. Gently place the electrodes on the skin, following the proper pad placement. For menstrual cramps, this is usually in the lower abdomen and lower back.
Once the electrodes are in place, turn on the TENS unit. Most TENS offer adjustable settings, and some may feature pre-set programs. Thus, choose the frequency, intensity, and duration or select a pre-programmed setting. Nevertheless, it is essential to begin the therapy with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to a comfort level.
During use, pay attention to the sensations. It is normal to feel a tingling or mild pulsing sensation at the electrode site. If any discomfort arises, adjust the settings or reposition the electrodes. After the TENS session is complete, turn off the device and carefully remove the electrodes from the skin. It is important to clean the skin and the electrodes for future use.
Before starting to use a TENS unit, individuals should consult a healthcare professional. This is particularly crucial if a person has any underlying medical condition or concerns. Correct electrode placement is crucial for the safe and effective delivery of pulses. Hence, adhering to the advice from a professional or the user manual is important.
Do not place the pads on sensitive areas of the body, including broken skin or open wounds. Avoid starting the therapy with high settings. This can provide electric shocks and further discomfort. Also, do not use the device while doing activities that require full attention, like driving or operating machinery.
In conclusion, a TENS machine for period cramps is a helpful and effective solution. It is an electronic device that delivers electrical currents to the nerves in the body. Particularly, it works based on mechanisms of the pain gate, the release of endorphins, and improving blood flow. Also, the electrical impulses can stream in low and high frequencies, contributing to the effectiveness of TENS. The unit also provides benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, and cost-effective.
Furthermore, people can operate the device in simple steps. One needs to attach the electrodes to the unit and identify the treatment area. Then, the user will place the pads and adjust the settings to begin the TENS therapy. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know the safety considerations for optimal results. Always consult a professional before undergoing TENS, especially if a person has an underlying condition. TENS is available in numerous stores, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.