Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or the TENS machine, is a small electronic device that is used as a method of pain relief. It functions by sending electrical impulses to the skin through electrode pads. The electrical stimulation can stream in low and high frequencies. Accordingly, TENS provides numerous benefits. It allows for a targeted form of pain relief; it is non-invasive, and drug-free. Also, the electrical device is customisable, portable, versatile, and cost-effective.
Chronic pain and acute pain affects millions of people worldwide. It often disrupts their daily lives and limits their activities. Traditional pain management methods, such as medication, can come with unwanted side effects and may not always provide long-lasting relief. As a result, many individuals are turning to alternative treatments like TENS to alleviate their discomfort. This article will present TENS, particularly its functions and benefits, and how to use it.
Functions of the TENS Machine
The TENS machine is a battery-operated unit that utilises an electrical current to stimulate the sensory nerves in the body. These electrical pulses can block pain messages or trigger the production of natural relievers. Accordingly, the electric current from TENS can be set to High-frequency (HF) and Low-frequency (LF). Each serves different purposes in relieving aches and promoting healing.
When a TENS unit is set to LF, it delivers a slower pulse rate, typically 1 to 10 Hz. This mode is common for muscle rehabilitation and healing. The LF pulses help to reduce muscle spasms, improve blood circulation, and induce the release of endorphins. On the other hand, when TENS is set to an HF, it delivers electrical impulses at a rapid rate, usually above 50 Hz.
HF TENS causes people to feel the effects immediately. This is possible as the strong intensity can block pain signals and provide relief. Hence, it is beneficial for dealing with sudden and short-term aches. Nevertheless, both modes can be adjusted using controls. This makes it convenient for people to modify and customise the treatment session.
Conditions that Can Be Treated
The following are the types of pain or medical conditions TENS can treat:
- Acute pain conditions – these are health issues like period pain, labour pain, postoperative pain, and tension headaches.
- Chronic pain conditions – it may include conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis pain, neck, shoulder, and backaches.
- Neuropathic pain – TENS can help manage conditions such as sciatica or diabetic neuropathy. It usually disrupts the sharp or burning sensations of the condition.
- Musculoskeletal pain – these are strains in the muscles, knee joint, and tendons. This may include osteoarthritis pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Muscle soreness – TENS can provide relief in different types of muscle aches.
Benefits of Using the TENS Machine
There are numerous benefits of using the TENS machine. One of its key advantages is providing targeted relief to specific areas of discomfort. Thus, it can directly address the ailment, offering localised relief without affecting the entire body. Additionally, TENS is non-invasive and drug-free. It does not require needles, incisions, surgeries, or reliance on medications.
Another significant benefit of the device is that it offers customisable treatment options. Users can adjust the settings for adequate intensities, pulse rate, and pulse duration. The portability of TENS is another advantageous feature. These units are compact and lightweight, making them easy to use at home, work, or while travelling. This mobility enables people to have accessible stimulation for pain relief.
Furthermore, TENS are versatile in their application. It can help address various conditions, whether acute or chronic pain. This multifunctional capability allows people to deal with different conditions. Also, the therapy is cost-effective. It can offer long-term savings compared to ongoing expenses associated with prescription medications or frequent visits to healthcare providers.
How the Device Works
The TENS device works mainly in two mechanisms: the Pain Gate Theory and the production of endorphins. According to the Theory of Pain Gate, the electrical stimulation from the unit can close the gate in the spinal cord, blocking pain messages. This mechanism helps to reduce the perception of aches, turning down the intensity of pain.
Also, the electrical pulses can trigger the release of endorphins. These are the natural pain relievers of the body that help lessen aches and promote a sense of well-being. Additionally, TENS can aid in improving blood flow in the treatment area. This helps by reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
How to Use the TENS Machine
Users can operate the TENS machine in simple steps. Before undergoing TENS therapy, it is crucial to consult a health professional. They can provide information if the method is safe and effective. Then, ensure that the device and its accessories are in good condition. Make sure that it is properly charged or has fresh batteries to avoid any interruption in the treatment.
Next, connect the electrodes to the unit using wires or a smartphone via Bluetooth. Identify the location of the ailment and clean it before placing the electrode patches. It is important to follow the correct electrode placement for effectivity. Next, turn on the machine. Adjust the settings, including the frequency, intensity, or duration. Some TENS have pre-set programs, thus, choose the applicable ones.
Nevertheless, it is advisable to start with the lowest setting and moderately increase it to a comfortable intensity. Once everything is set, the user can activate the stimulation. Professionals recommend that the session should last for about 15 to 30 minutes. When the treatment is complete, power off the unit and carefully remove the electrode pads.
Pad Placement Guide for Effective Relief
Proper pad placement is important for an effective and safe treatment. Before placing the pads, ensure that the skin is free from substances. This includes oil, water, lotion, or dirt. In positioning the electrodes, make sure to avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, mouth, head, chest, throat, or broken skin.
Additionally, ensure that the pads do not cover or too close to each other. It is advisable to have at least a one-inch gap between the pads. If the first placement of pads does not feel right, the user can carefully reposition the pads until they are in an effective spot.
In conclusion, the TENS machine is a highly effective and versatile device that can provide pain relief. It functions by streaming electrical impulses to the skin through electrode pads. Accordingly, the stimulation can stream in high or low frequencies. Each mechanism provides purposes and is modifiable. Also, TENS offers numerous benefits. It involves targeted pain relief that is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, versatile, and cost-effective.
People can operate TENS by identifying the treatment area, placing the pads, and adjusting the settings. The device works by blocking the pain signals and triggering the release of endorphins. With such operations, TENS can treat a variety of conditions. Whether menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, or muscle aches. Nevertheless, it is important to know the proper pad placement for optimal therapy. This may include cleaning the skin, avoiding sensitive areas, and placing the electrodes with gaps.