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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Pain Relief Device: What It Is, the Mechanisms, and How to Operate It

A female news anchor reporting about TENS as the new faster way for pain relief

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS pain relief device is a small electrical device that produces electrical currents. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation works in different mechanisms to reduce pain intensity. TENS operates based on the pain gate mechanism, triggering the release of endorphins, and improving blood flow. Also, TENS units are easy to operate. The user needs to identify the treatment location, place the electrode pads, adjust the settings, and activate the stimulation.

Living with acute pain or chronic pain can significantly impact the quality of life. This makes even the simplest tasks appear daunting. Many individuals turn to painkilling medications or surgeries as a method of pain relief. However, these often come with unwanted side effects. Hence, people seek other pain management solutions, like TENS therapy. This article will present TENS units as a form of pain relief, including the mechanisms of how it works and how to operate the tool.

What is a TENS Pain Relief Device?

The TENS pain relief device is a battery-powered machine that delivers electrical pulses to the body through electrodes placed on the skin. Accordingly, it is intended for managing various types of pain, both chronic and acute. Medical professionals and pain clinics often incorporate TENS as part of the treatment plans for their patients. Also, individuals usually use TENS at home to alleviate conditions.

Furthermore, the device comes in two primary types: wired and wireless. The wired TENS unit consists of the main unit, which is connected to the electrode pads via wires. Hence, it offers reliable and consistent delivery of electric current. Meanwhile, cable-free TENS machine operates without the need for wires. This type of unit provides greater flexibility and mobility for the user.

Both TENS units offer numerous features. Most TENS have adjustable settings for frequency, pulse intensity, and pulse duration. This enables people to customise the therapy depending on specific needs. Also, some TENS models extend a pre-set program to target a specific condition. This feature provides more convenience and direct treatment.

Types of Pain It Can Manage

  • Acute pain conditions: arise suddenly. This may include discomforts like period painlabour pain, and tension headaches.
  • Chronic pain conditions: it is often characterised as a persistent ailment. Conditions such as neck pain, fibromyalgia, and arthritis may cause ongoing discomfort.
  • Musculoskeletal pain: it affects the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerve fibres. This may involve conditions like joint pain and osteoarthritic pain.
  • Neuropathic pain: arises from damage or dysfunction within the nervous system. TENS offers a promising approach to managing conditions like diabetic neuropathy and sciatica.
  • Muscular pain: whether due to physical exertion, tension, or underlying medical condition, TENS can effectively address muscle discomfort.

An elderly woman pointing TENS on her wrist

Mechanisms on How a TENS Pain Relief Device Works

One of the primary mechanisms through which a TENS pain relief device works is by stimulating the production of endorphins within the body. These are the natural chemicals that act as natural pain relievers. TENS therapy prompts the release of endorphins, which then bind to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, it effectively reduces discomfort and promotes well-being.

Another mechanism is the Pain Gate Control Theory. According to this theory, the spinal cord contains a “gate” that can open or close to allow or block pain signals from reaching the brain. When TENS therapy is administered, the electrical pulses activate the non-painful sensory nerves. In turn, it competes with and overrides the transmission of pain messages, effectively closing the “gate”.

TENS therapy also contributes to the improvement of blood circulation in the treatment area. The application of electrical stimulation can lead to the dilation of blood vessels. This vasodilation enhances the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the tissues. Therefore, it promotes healing and reduces inflammation and discomfort.

Advantages Over the Other Treatment Methods

One of the advantages of TENS is its non-invasive nature. It does not require the use of needles, incisions, or drugs. Hence, this approach reduces the risk of adverse effects and complications. Accordingly, TENS treatment provides targeted relief. This makes it particularly effective for people dealing with localised discomfort.

Another advantage of TENS is its customisability. Individuals can adjust the intensity, frequency, and duration of electrical stimulation. Also, the portability of TENS devices allows people to use them in the comfort of their homes or on the go. This convenience enables individuals to access relief without the need for frequent visits to healthcare providers.

A woman manually operating TENS on her back

How to Operate a TENS Pain Relief Device

Operating a TENS pain relief device involves a straightforward process. Before using the unit, the individual should ensure the device is in good working condition. They should check the battery level and confirm that the device is free from damage. Then, connect the electrodes to the central unit using the lead cables or to a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless.

Next, identify the treatment area and prepare the skin. Once the skin is clean, the user can apply the pads. Adhering to the proper electrode placement is crucial in this step. After the electrodes are in place, the individual can turn on the unit. Depending on the TENS model, users can adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program. Start with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to a comfortable level.

The individual should adhere to the recommended duration of TENS therapy sessions. Typically, the treatment lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. After each use, turn off the TENS unit and carefully remove the electrodes from the skin. Additionally, store the TENS device in a safe and dry place for future use.

Safety Measures

Before using a TENS unit, individuals should consult with a professional to determine the appropriateness of TENS for the specific condition. To prevent misuse of the TENS device, it is vital to strictly adhere to the recommended guidelines. This includes following the proper pad placement, avoiding excessive intensity levels, and adhering to the prescribed duration.

In placing the pads, it is crucial to avoid the eyes, mouth, head, throat, chest, and broken skin. During and after the TENS therapy session, individuals should monitor the condition of their skin and any adverse sensations. Also, do not use TENS while sleeping, driving, operating machinery, or in water.

Conclusion

Overall, the TENS pain relief device is a highly effective and convenient solution for individuals suffering from different conditions. It is available in wired and wireless forms with various features. Accordingly, it works by streaming electrical currents to the body. This electrical stimulation blocks the transmission of pain signals, triggers the release of endorphins, and improves blood flow. Therefore, it can treat a wide range of conditions. This may include neck pain, osteoarthritis, tension headaches, and sciatica.

Moreover, TENS therapy provides numerous benefits to users. It is non-invasive, customisable, portable, and can provide targeted relief. Operating a TENS unit is also easy. The user needs to connect the device, identify the treatment area, place the electrodes, adjust the settings, and activate the stimulation. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know the safety measures when using TENS for optimal experience. Those who want to purchase a TENS unit may check the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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