Acute and chronic pain in adults can lead to decreased productivity, limited mobility, and emotional distress. Thus, they typically seek the help of medical professionals. Doctors prescribe medications, but these may cause adverse reactions. Fortunately, they can also rely on alternatives like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS pain reliever. It improves the quality of life by reducing the discomfort people experience. TENS sends electrical pulses to the target area, resulting in pain gating and the release of endorphins.
Prescription drugs are generally effective in lessening pain. However, they come with a range of potential risks. Some common pain medicines, such as opioids, can be addictive and may cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, or respiratory depression. These side effects can significantly affect the ability to function normally. Hence, searching for other methods of pain relief is essential, and one option is TENS. The following sections will present its overview, functionality, and application.
Overview of TENS as a Pain Reliever
A TENS pain reliever is a non-invasive and drug-free method for alleviating aches and discomfort. It utilises a handy electronic device that emits low-voltage electrical currents. Moreover, it comes with electrode pads that users place on the skin near the painful area. TENS units are available in various kinds, sizes, shapes, and features. Thus, it is easy to find one that suits different needs.
One of the key benefits of the effective pain relief solution is its non-invasiveness. Unlike other methods, such as injections or surgeries, TENS does not require any penetration into the body. Additionally, it is portable and user-friendly. People can keep the device with them wherever they go. TENS is compact and lightweight, making it convenient to take along in a bag or pocket.
Despite the effectiveness of TENS, it can still vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience significant relief, while others may find it less effective. The response to TENS therapy can depend on factors such as the type and severity of the pain, pain tolerance, and overall health conditions. Hence, administering it under the guidance of a health professional is crucial.
Types of Pain Relieved by TENS
- Acute pain – This refers to a sudden and intense pain that lasts for a short period. Some examples are period pain, post-operative pain, and labour pain.
- Chronic pain – It is characterised by persistent and long-lasting pain that usually lasts for more than three months. Arthritic pain, fibromyalgia, and cancer pain are some examples.
- Neuropathic pain – Discomfort originates from damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. It can persist long after the initial cause has healed. Diabetic neuropathy and sciatica are common forms.
- Musculoskeletal pain – Injuries, strains, or inflammation of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones can cause this.
How Does a TENS Pain Reliever Work?
TENS pain reliever delivers mild electric currents to the skin, targeting sensory nerves and interrupting pain signals before they can reach the brain. These electrical impulses also stimulate the production of endorphins, natural pain-killing chemicals in the body. This dual action of blocking pain messages and triggering endorphins makes TENS an in-demand method of pain relief.
TENS has electrodes that users attach to the skin near the pain sites. It generates a tingling or massaging sensation, initiating a gentle and controlled electrical stimulation. Individuals can adjust the intensity and frequency of the electrical pulses according to their comfort level and the nature of their pain.
In addition, TENS machines can improve circulation and promote muscle relaxation. The gentle massage-like pulses can help reduce muscle stiffness and spasms. This makes it a versatile tool for managing pain, as well as supporting muscle recovery and rehabilitation. TENS therapy offers a non-pharmacologic approach to pain management that people can incorporate into their daily routines.
Understanding Low and High Frequencies
Low-frequency TENS, typically set at two to nine Hz, helps treat chronic pain conditions like neuropathy or fibromyalgia. This penetrates deeper into the tissues, providing more widespread pain relief. On the other hand, high-frequency TENS, usually set at 80-100 Hz, is effective for acute pain like musculoskeletal or post-operative pain. It targets superficial nerve fibres, providing localised relief.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider individual patient tolerance and response to different frequencies when determining the most effective TENS treatment. Overall, understanding the nuances of low and high frequencies of TENS allows healthcare providers to offer personalised and targeted pain management for various pain conditions.
How to Apply TENS as a Pain Reliever
To apply a TENS pain reliever, begin by checking the device if it is in good working condition and has sufficient battery power. If necessary, replace the batteries or charge it before proceeding. Then, ensure the skin surface is free from dust and dirt to prevent skin irritation during the application process. Gently clean the area with a mild soap and water, then pat it dry with a clean towel.
Once everything is ready, locate the painful area on the body. Afterwards, place the electrode pads on the pain site. Position them in a way that covers the pain and its surrounding areas to ensure maximum effectiveness. Once the pads are in place, connect them to the TENS unit and turn it on. Adjust the pulse rate and other settings according to personal preference or a medical provider.
Use TENS for a designated time, usually around 20-30 minutes. People undergo TENS therapy sessions multiple times a day. However, give the skin a break between uses to prevent discomfort. After utilising this form of pain relief, turn the machine off. Remove the electrodes and store the unit in a clean place.
Correct electrode placements are essential when applying TENS therapy. It should be directly on or near the painful site. Moreover, users must be aware of areas to avoid. These include near the eyes, on the throat, or over areas with reduced sensation. Also, people with back pain must not attach the pads to the spinal cord.
Additionally, checking the electrode pads and wires for damages before using them is vital to avoid electric shocks and other safety hazards. Lastly, consult a professional before using TENS. This is especially necessary for pregnant women, epileptic individuals, and those with heart conditions or implanted medical devices.
A TENS pain reliever is popular because it can help manage different types of pain while being 100% drug-free and non-invasive. Some acute and chronic pain conditions it can treat are period pain, neuropathic pain, and cancer pain. This electrical nerve stimulation device delivers mild electrical impulses to the body. Subsequently, it disrupts pain signals and promotes the production of endorphins. TENS machines are easy to use. Hence, it is a convenient treatment option for many people.
People should place the electrode pads on the pain area. Then, they should adjust the intensity and frequency of the electrical currents according to their comfort level. TENS devices usually have different settings and modes, allowing users to customise their pain relief experience. With proper application and guidance from healthcare professionals, TENS can be an invaluable addition to a comprehensive pain management plan. Consequently, it offers relief and improves the quality of life for those in need.