TENS Unit Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
TENS units are ipod size battery powered pain management devices that relieve acute and chronic pain along with post-operative pain. Back pain, neck pain, leg pain, arm pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, etc. A TENS unit attaches to a person’s waist and allows a person complete mobility during use.
TENS units are a drug free, non-surgical, non-invasive, safe pain management treatment that can help reduce the need for narcotic medication and also provide a great additional treatment being received for pain reduction.
A TENS Unit is a great supplement to pain management, Chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, spinal decompression therapy. TENS units are also excellent for nerve pain (such as from sciatica with a herniated disc) and not just back pain.
Typically TENS units have attachments that go on your pants or pockets so that they are easy to bring with you for pain relief.
How Do TENS Units Work?
A TENS unit transmits small electrical pulses to the electrodes, which in turn shift this electrical impulse to the underlying tissue and nerves. The basic components of a TENS unit are the battery source, the electrodes, and a super smart advanced computer chip (not that smart).
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What medical conditions do TENS Units help?
TENS Unit for back pain is the most common, but it also helps with the following:
• Neck Pain
• Sciatica and Radiculopathy
• Arthritis flare ups
• Sports Injuries
• TMJ Pain
• Shoulder Pain, Knee Pain, Hip Pain, Ankle Pain, Wrist Pain
• Muscular Strains and Sprains
• Herniated disc or Bulging disc pain
• Mid back pain, Upper back pain,
• Tendonitis and Bursitis
Does a TENS unit cure the underlying cause of pain?
TENS units are not going to cure the underlying disease or pain issue. A TENS Unit is a symptomatic pain management treatment which works to relieve pain, but not cure.
How is a TENS unit applied?
The TENS Unit Electrodes are placed right over or close to the area where pain management is desired. Small electrical pulses are sent through the electrodes and then through the skin and along the soft tissues and nerve fibers. The current goes through the electrodes and into the skin activating specific nerve pathways with an associated tingling or massaging sensation that decreases a patient’s pain perception.
How Does a TENS Machine work?
The TENS machine works by suppressing the signals to the brain that normally tell it to feel pain. TENS Units also facilitate the body to make higher levels of its own pain reduction chemicals known as Endorphins.
How long does it take for a TENS Unit to begin relieving my pain?
It takes about a half hour or less to begin feeling the effects.
For What Length of Time is it Okay to Use a TENS Unit?
Some individuals use their TENS unit a lot during the day off and on for pain management. It should not be used continuously for hours and hours. Rather it is best to wear a TENS Unit for a period of time (1-2 hours) then remove it for a while.
What does a TENS Unit make the patient feel when it’s turned on?
The TENS machine will produce a tingling sensation in the treated area but should not be painful. If it is painful, the settings should be altered.
What are possible side effects with using TENS Units?
TENS Unit side effects are very unusual and most patients experience significant pain relief. At times individuals may note red skin over the area where the electrodes are positioned.
How can I obtain a TENS Unit?
Typically one receives a prescription from a medical provider such as a Florida chiropractor, Florida Pain Doctor (MD/DO), or a Florida Physical Therapist for a TENS Machine. A prescription is not always necessary however. When you get a TENS Unit, it will be set for optimal pain management by the provider and individual instructions will be furnished on its use. It is not recommended to change those settings unless you received instructions on how to accomplish this.
How well do TENS Units work?
For some acute and chronic pain patients, a TENS Unit provides great pain relief that may last for several hours. For other patients, a TENS Unit may decrease the amount of narcotic pain medication needed.
TENS Unit Research
Few Level 1 large research studies have been done on the effectiveness of TENS Units for pain management. The research that does exist on TENS units is controversial with the outcomes. Anecdotally TENS users often rave about the effectiveness and pain relief achieve. Along with chiropractic and physical therapy treatments and in conjunction with pain management treatment, the results anecdotally have been excellent. They also perform well in the post-operative arena.
Ask your provider if a TENS Unit will help your condition. If you are in Florida the Florida Pain Network can connect you with a Florida pain clinic doctor, Florida Chiropractor, or Florida Physical Therapist who may be recommend a TENS unit for pain relief.
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Preferred Pain Center’s diverse treatments span traditional (medical and interventional pain management along with PT), complementary (chiropractic treatment and spinal decompression services), and holistic methods (naturopathic). Our blog is dedicated to educating and discussing topics anything and everything related to Pain.