Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses an electronic device to send electrical current to the body as a method of pain relief. Accordingly, this TENS stimulation unit works in different mechanisms. This includes the pain gate mechanism, the production of endorphins, and improving blood flow. Furthermore, using the device is easy. Begin by preparing the unit. Then, locate the treatment region and place the electrode patches. Lastly, turn on the device and adjust the settings.
Acute or chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide. This can significantly impact daily activities and overall well-being. Traditional methods of pain management, such as medication, heat therapy, and physical therapy, may not always provide the desired results. This is where TENS therapy comes in. These devices have gained popularity in recent years to treat different types of pain. This article will present the TENS stimulation electrical device, the mechanisms of action, and how to use the unit.
What is a TENS Stimulation Unit?
TENS stimulation unit is a device that delivers electrical pulses to the body through electrode pads placed on the skin. These units are available in wired and wireless options. The wired version requires lead cables to connect the electrode to the central machine. Meanwhile, the wireless option eliminates the need for physical wires. Hence, it provides freedom of movement while receiving stimulation for pain relief.
Both options offer various features. Most TENS have adjustable settings. This allows users to modify the pulse amplitude, pulse width, and pulse rate. Moreover, some models extend pre-set programs. This is tailored for specific types of discomfort. Also, some units may offer reusable or disposable electrodes, rechargeable batteries, and user-friendly controls.
Accordingly, health professionals, pain clinics, and physical therapists often incorporate TENS therapy into their treatment plans for patients. Individuals who experience various types of pain can benefit from using TENS. They can use it at home or on the go. Additionally, athletes utilise TENS units as part of their recovery and injury management protocols. TENS can expedite the recovery process.
- Acute pain: short-term discomfort that typically arises from primary dysmenorrhea, postoperative pain, labour pain, and headaches.
- Chronic pain conditions: persists for an extended period. This often results from fibromyalgia, backaches, and arthritis pain.
- Neuropathic pain: it stems from nerve damage and may present as shooting sensations. TENS is beneficial for addressing conditions like diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, and nerve entrapment syndromes.
- Musculoskeletal pain: this is a discomfort in the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. TENS is valuable in managing ailments like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Muscle discomfort: it stems from strains, sprains, and overexertion. This may include treating sore muscles and achy muscles.
Mechanisms of Action on How a TENS Stimulation Unit Works
The TENS stimulation unit works through several mechanisms of action. When the device delivers electric currents to the body, it may trigger the release of endorphins. These are the natural chemicals of the body that act as natural painkillers. Nevertheless, these endorphins operate in the body to help reduce the levels of pain intensity. Also, it promotes a sense of well-being and relaxation.
The pain gate mechanism is another key aspect of TENS. TENS units provide a form of sensory stimulation that competes with and potentially closes the “gates” along the nerve pathways. Hence, this interferes with the transmission of pain signals to the brain. As a result, this process essentially helps to “gate out” the pain messages. This reduces the sensation of discomfort.
Furthermore, TENS therapy can positively influence blood flow in the body. The gentle electrical stimulation can enhance blood circulation in the targeted area. This supports the natural healing processes of the body by delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to body tissues. Therefore, it helps to reduce inflammation and promote recovery.
One of the key benefits of TENS is its ability to provide targeted relief. This can effectively alleviate discomfort without impacting surrounding tissues. Another advantage is its non-invasive nature. It does not require surgical incisions or invasive procedures. Accordingly, TENS is drug-free. This makes it appealing to people seeking non-pharmacological pain relief.
Customisation is another benefit of TENS. Users can adjust the settings to personalise the relief experience. Moreover, TENS units are portable. This provides convenience and accessibility for individuals. Also, TENS therapy is cost-effective. It eliminates the ongoing cost of medications or frequent visits to clinics.
How to Use a TENS Stimulation Unit
Using a TENS stimulation unit involves several key steps. Foremost, individuals should begin by consulting a medical practitioner. This is particularly essential for people with underlying medical conditions. Then, carefully inspect the device and ensure it is adequately charged or has fresh batteries. Connect the electrodes to the central unit using lead wires or to a smartphone for wireless.
Next, locate the treatment area and prepare the skin. Once the skin is clean and dry, position the pads following the proper electrode placement. Avoid placing the electrodes on the head, mouth, eyes, throat, chest, bony regions, and broken skin. Once the pads are in place, turn on the device. TENS devices may allow the user to adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program.
Nevertheless, it is vital to start the therapy with the lowest setting and moderately increase it to a comfortable level. During the application of TENS, it is essential to closely monitor the comfort level and any sensations experienced. The duration of the treatment may last 15 to 30 minutes. After the TENS therapy, turn off the TENS unit and carefully remove the electrode patches.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Yes. However, they are generally mild and temporary. Some individuals may experience skin irritation or redness at the electrode placement site. This can occur due to the adhesive on the electrodes or sensitivity to electrical pulses. In some cases, some may experience muscle twitching. This can happen if the electrical stimulation is too intense or the electrodes are not properly positioned.
Another consideration is the potential for overstimulation or muscle fatigue. Hence, adhering to recommended usage guidelines and taking breaks as needed is essential. In rare cases, some may experience dizziness or nausea. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek medical advice.
In conclusion, a TENS stimulation unit is a useful device for managing pain. It is an electronic device that health professionals, individuals, and athletes commonly use. Consequently, the unit is available in wired and wireless options with various features. Accordingly, the TENS unit works in different mechanisms. The electrical stimulation operates by blocking the transmission of pain messages, triggering the release of endorphins, and improving blood flow.
With such mechanisms of action, TENS can treat various conditions. This may include headaches, fibromyalgia, nerve entrapment syndromes, osteoarthritis, and sore muscles. Furthermore, TENS offers numerous benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, cost-effective, and provides targeted relief. Using the device is easy. One needs to prepare the unit, identify the treatment area, place the electrodes, and adjust the settings. However, it is crucial to know the potential side effects of TENS therapy.