Posts Tagged ‘muscle stimulation’

Using TENS to Relieve Pain: What is TENS and How Does it Work?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

TENS is a contemporary, non-pharmaceutical pain relief treatment. The word “TENS” is actually an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator.

Its full name can be a little bit misleading, since many people associate “electrical” with shock and shock therapy. In reality, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator treatment, which is delivered through the use of a TENS unit, delivers a mild pulsing sensation, not shock.

TENS units are devices which deliver low levels of electrical currents topically (through the skin.)  The device creates a series of pulsing sensations.  The frequency and intensity of the pulses are controlled through knobs and/or buttons.  The electrical pulses are delivered from the device to the skin through the use of electrodes.  These electrodes are connected by wire to the TENS unit and applied to the skin, directly over the place where the pain relief is needed.

Depending on the nature of the injury or illness, doctors and therapists may start patients on a very low frequency and intensity of pulses.  They may gradually increase that level if the patient is comfortable and the condition warrants it.  Some units can actually be controlled by the patient, who can adjust the level him/herself to a level that is comfortable and provides the most benefit.

The length of the treatment itself often depends on the nature of the injury/illness.  A typical course of treatment for acute pain (i.e. post-op pain or accident injury) lasts for 6-8 weeks, with two to three sessions per week.  Individual sessions may last for ten to twenty minutes, and may be adjusted depending on the effectiveness of the treatment and the progress of healing.  TENS pain relief treatment for chronic pain (i.e. MS, arthritis) may be delivered on an ongoing and as-needed basis.

This therapy may be prescribed to alleviate pain from a range of illnesses or injuries.  TENS therapy may be prescribed for treatment of both chronic (pain that is recurrent, such as pain from osteoarthritis) and acute pain (pain that is the result of an injury that hasn’t healed completely.) It has been used to treat tissue and muscle damage (i.e. from a car accident or sports injury), pain resulting from surgery, strains (i.e. neck, back), tendonitis, arthritis and more.

There is conflicting information on the effectiveness of TENS pain relief treatment.  Research has only been conducted on a few specific types of pain, and in most of these cases has been shown to be moderately to highly effective.  Effectiveness usually depends upon the nature of the illness/injury, and the overall health and fitness of the individual patient.

TENS therapy has become a fairly routine form of treatment for pain and rehabilitation after an accident or operation.  A majority of patients who receive TENS therapy report at least a small level of pain relief.  Many find the treatment very effective, and most physical therapists agree that it may significantly shorten the duration of healing.  It is also an excellent alternative to drug treatments, especially when used on a regular basis during recovery.

TENS units are found in two basic types.  They may be found in the form of a home device, which patients can use in their own homes as needed (or prescribed) rather than requiring a doctor’s or therapist’s visit.  These units typically deliver lower levels of electricity and pre-programmed programs of treatment.

The other type of TENS unit is more complex.  It usually has the potential to deliver higher electricity levels than home unitsPsychology Articles, and therefore must be administered under the supervision of a doctor or therapist.


‘Profile’ TENS Unit - A Must for Health Professionals

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Do you use TENS units in your healthcare practice?
If not, I advise you to research the eye opening results of TENS units’ effectiveness in pain relief for many conditions ranging from back pain to arthritis. The physical effects of the electrical stimulation, coupled with the psychological effects of the patient having control over their pain, can take months off of recovery time producing a happy patient likely to refer you to others.
If you already use TENS in your practice you will know how effective they can be. However, health care providers can only advise a patient how to take a course of medicine, how and when to use physiotherapy equipment or do certain stretches etc and how to use a TENS unit. There is no saying as to whether their guidelines are followed; you have only their word to trust, and anyone who has been a patient knows, it sometimes feels better to expand the truth to not appear negatively in front of your practitioner.
A ‘Profile’ TENS unit is a patient’s AND health professional’s dream. It has all the features and more of the other TENS units for a highly effective treatment: it can treat two areas of pain, has 50 options of pulse rate, 10 options of pulse width and a timer with 7 selectable settings. It boasts 5 different ‘modes’ which are pre-programmed treatments including different pulse rates, widths and bursts. Its digital interface makes it smoother to use and clearer to read and it has an anti-shock system preventing harm from an accidental drop.
However, where it REALLY rises above other TENS units is in its area of ‘professional’ functions beneficial to the healthcare provider. Professional Function 1 records how long the unit is used for. It boasts a 99 hour memory of usage for the health professional to be able to see exactly what the patient has done since the last meeting. Professional Function 2 memorizes how many times the unit is used and Professional Function 3 locks the device at a particular setting required by the health professional so the patient only has to hit ‘play’. Combine these professional functions and you have a highly useful, effective complimentary treatment that works for both patient and healthcare provider.