Individuals can use a TENS machine for shoulder pain to relieve inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Using the device is simple. It only requires placing the electrodes around the shoulder and adjusting the settings. Thus, TENS therapy helps lessen the pain and restore the range of motion. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is one of the cost-efficient methods for managing pain symptoms without adverse risks. In addition, a TENS machine is suitable for various types of pain or conditions.
When the shoulder is in pain, it causes stiffness, soreness, and mobility issues. A TENS machine can provide therapeutic relief without the risk of harming nearby tissues or vital organs. Moreover, TENS therapy is a non-invasive pain relief method helping acute and chronic pain patients manage their condition without medicines. The following sections will talk about the different types of shoulder pain, operating a TENS machine, its features and its placement guide.
TENS Machine for Shoulder Pain: Causes of Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is one of the most used and movable joints in the body. It is responsible for extending your arms, lifting objects above your head, or reaching your back. However, overexertion can lead to sudden injuries and sprains. When this occurs, moving the arms can be difficult. It often leads to tenderness and searing pain when moving. Hence, people use a TENS machine for shoulder pain to minimise discomfort and restore normal functions quickly.
Since the shoulder is flexible, it is vulnerable to injuries. Shoulder pain can occur due to repetitive motions, overuse, and tears. In some cases, an underlying condition, such as bursitis and impingement, may trigger the pain. Another common cause is dislocation when the shoulder is pulled back or rotated too far that it pops out of its socket. Additionally, wear and tear of the cartilage and tendons as a person ages can start to hurt during simple activities.
Moreover, there are various risk factors for shoulder pain and injuries. Some are due to degenerative diseases like arthritis, tendinitis, and bone spurs. They commonly develop with age with no cure. Thus, a TENS machine for shoulder pain helps reduce inflammation that comes with these conditions. However, some causes due to occupation or lifestyle are preventable. A person can avoid shoulder pain by limiting the risk factors, such as minimising repetitive movement and awkward postures.
Symptoms may vary depending on the condition. A person may note the following factors when determining the cause of pain:
- Sensation – sharp or dull ache
- Intensity – mild, moderate or severe
- Onset – sudden or gradual
- Triggers – movement, inactivity, injury
- Other factors – restrained motion, numbness, deformity, pain than worsens in the morning or when laying down
Using a TENS Machine for Shoulder Pain
A TENS machine for shoulder pain works by targeting the sensory nerves with steady electrical pulses to induce them to close the nerve pathways in the spinal cord. According to the Gate Control Theory of Pain, a gating mechanism in the spinal cord controls the flow of pain messages. When the electrical currents flood the nervous system, it temporarily causes the “gates” to close. As a result, the receptors in the brain process fewer pain signals.
Another function of TENS is the release of more endorphins, which acts as the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins inhibit the nerve cells from sending pain signals. Additionally, a TENS machine boosts blood circulation, which helps soothe sore muscles, loosen muscle knots, and reduce tension. The increased blood flow brings more nutrients to help injured tissues and joints heal faster. Individuals may consult their physician regarding the initial use and pad placement guide of their TENS machines.
People can easily use a TENS machine for shoulder pain by positioning the electrodes around the shoulders and setting the frequency and intensity. Some devices, like the iTENS, have pre-set modes for shoulder pain and other conditions. Hence, users can readily select their treatment without manual adjustment. Alternatively, trying various TENS settings is also recommended to find results that work best individually. Individuals can do this by setting the pulse rate, pulse width, and waveforms.
General Instruction Guide
- Generalised soreness – placed the pads on the trapezius muscles on both shoulders
- Localised pain – use two electrodes on the side where the pain is felt. Position the pads around the joints.
- Rotator cuff injury/bursitis/frozen shoulder – place one pad on the front and back side of the shoulder.
Features of TENS Machine for Shoulder Pain
A TENS machine for period pain varies according to its features and settings. There are two main kinds of TENS: standard wired and wireless electrodes. They essentially work the same; however, wireless TENS devices offer more portability, convenience and ease of use. Instead of cables, it utilises Bluetooth connection to control the device from a smartphone. Therefore, it eliminated the nuisance of setting up the device before being able to start TENS therapy.
A vital factor in choosing a TENS device is how much its intensity. The intensity determines the strength of the sensation from a TENS machine. Higher levels allow users to find a maximum tolerance without feeling uncomfortable. Depending on the severity of the pain, individuals may use varying stimulation levels that can give the most effective results. The personal devices available over the counter have customisable settings that are safe for home use.
Additional features of a TENS machine for shoulder pain are the treatment timer and pad sizes. Built-in timers help users set the duration so they do not risk leaving the unit longer than necessary. Some devices with pre-set modes, like the iTENS, have arranged parameters, including timer settings, to avoid overstimulation. Furthermore, pad sizes are critical towards effective results. Smaller TENS pads are ideal for joint areas like the shoulders and knees to allow mobility during therapy.
- Do not put the electrodes directly over the shoulder joints, throat, or temples.
- Do not place the electrodes on open wounds or broken skin.
- Consult with a physician before using TENS if you are pregnant or have heart disorders, epilepsy, blood clots, and an electrical implanted device
- Do not use TENS while showering or sleeping
A TENS machine for shoulder pain is a non-invasive and drug-free alternative to oral medication. A person can quickly administer TENS therapy without medical supervision by applying the electrodes on strategic points and using the correct intensity settings. In addition, individuals can use the pre-set mode of a TENS device specific for shoulder pain or disorder. Likewise, experimenting with various frequency levels helps find optimal results. Therefore, choosing a device would depend on the person’s treatment needs.
TENS therapy is also a safe pain management method as it does not cause adverse effects despite long-term use. Thus, individuals can safely use a TENS machine as frequently as needed. It does not interfere with other therapies or pain relief methods. Therefore, it can be used with other techniques such as cold compress, heat therapy, or shoulder exercises. The iTENS from iTENS Australia is a modern ultra-portable TENS device utilising wireless electrodes for more efficient use.