Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) devices help people manage pain whenever required. They are portable machines worn on the body to stimulate the sensory nerves. Standard units deliver mild electrical currents through thin lead cables attached to the electrode pads. Due to frequent use, the TENS machine wires last approximately 4-6 months. It is necessary to replace old wires when they start to tear to prevent accidental shocks and burns.
TENS therapy is a natural way to ease pain and alleviate discomfort. The machine is easy to use and non-invasive. It also does not develop adverse side effects that most pain medications do. Hence, many people use TENS as an alternative to drugs. It is also generally safe and does not need professional supervision. In this article, we will talk about the uses of TENS units, the lifespan of wires, and the care and safety guide.
The Uses of TENS and TENS Machine Wires
A TENS therapy device is a battery-operated unit using a signal generator to emit small amounts of electrical impulses. The currents flow through the TENS machine wire to the electrodes placed on the skin. In addition, the handheld controller is used to modulate the strength of the currents. Some machines have two or more leads connected to two pads each. Thus, each wire may deliver different intensity. It is efficient when you want to target different body areas simultaneously.
The device creates tingling sensations through varying intensity and frequency levels, which prompts the nervous system to provide feedback. These responses stimulate the body to act on pain. Mainly, it helps interrupt pain signals and release natural painkillers. In high frequencies (50-120 Hz), the currents induce the nerve pathways in the spinal cord to close. These nerves act as gate controllers. As a result, fewer pain signals reach the brain, providing pain relief.
Another way is to use low frequencies (2-10 Hz) to release natural painkillers. Endorphins and other substances help reduce pain by stopping the nerve cells from sending pain messages to the brain. Most people will feel relief for several hours after using the unit. For the most effective results, it is crucial to position the TENS machine wires and electrodes in strategic areas to reach the right nerves.
TENS machines offer the following benefits and advantages:
- reduce general body aches, swelling, and soreness
- relieve symptoms from chronic conditions, such as arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia
- boost blood circulation
- rehabilitate injured tissues faster
- reduce the need for oral medications
- the device is programmable according to a person’s pain level
- no systemic side effects
How Long Can You Use the TENS Machine Wires?
The durability of TENS machine wires is vital for safe and efficient use. They remain useful for a considerable time with proper usage and care. However, they are prone to breakage due to frequent use and wear and tear. Most wires last for 4-6 months. It is advisable to replace the lead wires, especially when you notice open wirings. Avoid using a TENS unit with exposed wires to prevent electrical shocks.
In addition to lead cables, the TENS electrode pads are also disposable. Gel pads often last for 15-20 applications. There are simple ways to help preserve TENS pads. One example is by cleaning the sticky surface of the electrodes with a moist cloth. However, they require replacement when they do not adhere firmly to the skin. Therefore, it is essential to care for the pads in order to maintain their optimal performance.
You may buy replacement TENS machine wires and electrodes in medical supply stores and online. It is better to use high-quality electrodes and cables to minimise breakage. Moreover, some people may prefer wireless TENS units to minimise the inconvenience of wires. Instead of lead cables, wireless TENS machines utilise Bluetooth technology to access the programs and settings. It also eliminates the need to buy new cables every now and then.
How to Use a TENS Machine
Operating a TENS machine may vary with the type of electrodes used. The general guidelines are as follows:
- Place the TENS pads on the pain area.
- Turn the machine on and start with the lowest setting.
- Gradually increase the intensity.
- After the session, turn the unit off before removing the pads.
Care and Safety Guide for TENS Machine Wires and Electrodes
Operating a traditional device involves setting up the TENS machine wires with each session. As mentioned, they are susceptible to breakage, and open wires risk the user from skin burns or irritations. They may also not deliver adequate stimulation from the electrodes. To prevent damage, connect the wires carefully to the electrodes. After treatment, pull the cable near the connector of the pads. Do not tug the wire from the middle.
Next, store the device by folding the wires neatly to avoid entanglement. Avoid bending or putting heavy weight on them. Furthermore, regular maintenance of the TENS electrodes helps prolong their functionality. After use, remove the excess gel and place the protective cover on the pad. Most devices come with poly bags to keep the wires and electrodes properly. In addition, avoid putting them in extreme temperatures. Follow the guide as indicated in the product manual.
For safe use, do not use TENS in or near water. This will damage the TENS machine wires and electrodes and risk mild electrocution. Moreover, do not apply the machine in places near a metal-implanted device like a pacemaker. The electrical currents from TENS may interfere with the functions of the implants. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you have heart conditions, epilepsy, or are pregnant.
- Avoid turning the power so high that it causes increased pain and discomfort.
- Do not use it on the abdomen while pregnant.
- Avoid sensitive areas like the eyes, temple, head, throat, and spine.
- Do not use TENS while bathing, sleeping, or driving.
- Place the electrodes on a clean, dry skin.
More people use TENS machines because they are safe and highly efficient for pain management. You may use the device as often as needed without the risks of harmful side effects. Standard units use lead cables attached to adhesive pads to deliver electrical currents to the body. The TENS machine wires approximately last for up to six months. It may depend on how often you use the device and how you care for the unit.
Replacing old lead wires and electrodes is advised to maintain optimal performance. It also helps prevent associated risks, such as mild shocks and skin irritations. Replacements are available to fit most devices. Alternatively, some people may opt for wireless TENS machines for more hassle-free pain management. Wireless devices, like the iTENS from iTENS Australia, are more cost-effective for long-term use. It eliminates the need to buy TENS wires constantly, reducing overall costs.