Portable TENS units are portable, battery-operated devices that are used to apply electric current to the skin in a bid to get relief from pain. TENS is an acronym of the technical name of this process——Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Even though portable TENS units can be bought without a medical prescription, it is advisable to use one only when it is prescribed by a doctor.
TENS works by stimulating the nerves around a region of the body by the application of the electric current. This stimulation overpowers other types of activities of the nerves, including the generation of pain, with the result that the patient gets immediate relief from pain. Over the long run, TENS is known to give relief from chronic pain by acting indirectly on the central nervous system.
Applying TENS Using a Portable TENS Unit
Since portable TENS units are invariably operated by battery, ensure that your unit is charged fully before using it. TENS devices consist of a body and one or more electrodes that are connected to the body. Most TENS devices have knobs and other controls on the body, which allow the user to change the power and frequency of the electric current generated by the device. Once you have set the device at the frequency and power required for your session, place the electrodes on the region of your skin where you require relief from pain. A conductive gel is usually applied to the bottom of the electrodes to make them more conductive, and to reduce irritation to the skin. You can now start the device, switching it off when the prescribed time is over.
Since TENS works locally, it is very important to put the electrodes on the right spot on your skin. If you place the electrodes even a few inches away from the spot which is the center of the pain, you risk wasting the session.
Precautions and Side Effects
Individuals who use a pacemaker should not apply electric stimulation to their skin and body. Electric current can interfere with the working of the pacemaker, with possibly deadly results. This means they should not use TENS at all. Pregnant women should take counsel from their doctor before using a portable TENS machine. Individuals with a heart condition should also avoid using this device. Portable TENS unit should not be used on the head, especially across the forehead, unless you are using a specific setting as advised by your physician. Consult your doctor before you use any TENS unit.
Portable TENS units are a godsend for people who require respite from extreme or chronic pain. If you have been prescribed the use of such a device, you can use it at home, office or while on the move. If used with caution, and as long as you are not susceptible to any harm from electric stimulation, they do not have any discernible side-effects, especially in the short term. You can use a portable TENS unit by attaching its electrodes to the region of your body that requires relief from pain, and switching it on for the duration prescribed by your physician. Pain relief could not be simpler.