Posts Tagged ‘stim units’

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.


Using a TENS Unit for Your Athletic Training Program

Monday, September 14th, 2009

If you are looking for a way to reduce the pain you feel from a sports injury when you are working out, consider investing in a TENS unit. These devices can help you control your pain so that you can get the most out of your workout. TENS units are widely used in the physical therapy field to help patients control their pain while they rehabilitate their muscles. With the proper training, you can benefit from this same technology at home or at your favorite gym.
What Is a TENS Unit?
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit uses electrical shocks to block pain signals that are being sent to the brain. It can also stimulate the body to create endorphins, which can increase the body’s ability to perform physical exercise.
How TENS Units Work
TENS units come with small electrode pads that already have gel on them. These are placed on the area that is experiencing pain. The small electrical shock delivered by the device will trigger the nerves in the area. Most users will feel a tingling sensation when they turn the device on. This can block the signal of pain to the brain when used at high dosages. Lower dosages are what trigger endorphin creation.
Who Can Use TENS Units?
Anyone can use a TENS unit with the proper training. However, since these do involve the use of electrical current, you should not use them without medical oversight. If you are recovering from a sports related injury, however, consider asking your physical therapist if you can be trained to use a TENS unit as you return to your sports training program. The device is going to be the most effective for athletes who are suffering from pain due to nerve damage. The common aches and pains that come from a rigorous workout are not what this device is intended to help.
Some people should not use a TENS unit, however. Children should not use the device, as its safety on growing bodies has not yet been tested. Any people with pacemakers or other similar electrical devices inside their bodies should never use a TENS unit. It can interfere with the proper functioning of the device, which can be life threatening.
Safety Concerns When Using a TENS Unit
TENS units are considered safe when used properly. However, there are certain places on the body where they should not be used. The electrodes should never be placed near the eyes or mouth. They also should not be placed on the temples. In fact, it is best not to use them on the face at all, as they could easily be placed too close to one of these sensitive areas.
The front of the neck is another place that the device should not be used. If you have any open wounds, do not put the electrode on them. Never place the device over the belly of a pregnant woman. In fact, pregnant women should not use a TENS device without first consulting with their obstetrician.
Once you have been trained by your doctor or physical therapist as to the best way to use the TENS device in your training program, make sure you resist the temptation to turn the frequency up too high. Remember, there is a limit to the pain relief you can experience with at TENS unit. Putting the frequency too high will actually cause you to have more pain. If you notice your muscles contracting near the electrodes, it is set too high. Otherwise, as long as you are properly trained and have followed these safety rules, you can use a TENS unit to reduce the pain from a past injury as you continue your workout routine.


‘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.