The Best Tens Unit: Relieve Body Pain And Soothe Sore Muscles From Home
Pain is complex, but its something we can all identify with.
Not only are there different types, causes and severity levels, you can also experience pain in different areas of your body.
Weve all suffered back pain at one time or another!
The treatment options are as varied as the causes, from acupuncture, herbal therapies and over-the-counter medications to injections, chiropractic treatments and in extreme cases even surgery.
Another pain relief alternative currently gaining popularity is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy also known as TENS.
A TENS unit can be used to treat joint, neck and back pain, post-operative pain, period pain, migraines and even labour pain.
Furthermore, if you suffer from pain due to multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia or sport-related injuries, it might also prove helpful.
In this article, Ill take you through my buying process and the various TENS devices that I considered before deciding on the best TENS unit that I wanted to go with.
Ill also cover the uses of a TENS unit, the benefits of owning one, and the important features to look for when purchasing this device.
What Are The Advantages Or Benefits Of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy
TENS is a non-invasive method of pain relief. It can be used alone or in addition to prescriptions or over-the-counter pain-relieving medications. The amount of medication may be able to be reduced in some patients who use TENS therapy. Do not stop taking or make any adjustments in your dose of medications without discussing it with your doctor first.
Another benefit of the TENS unit is that it is small and portable and therefore can be used at home or away, anytime pain relief is needed.
Mechanisms Of Tens Reduction On Analgesia
TENS activates a complex neuronal network to result in a reduction in pain. At frequencies and intensities used clinically, TENS activates large diameter afferent fibers . This afferent input is sent to the central nervous system to activate descending inhibitory systems to reduce hyperalgesia. Specifically, blockade of neuronal activity in the periaqueductal gray , rostral ventromedial medulla and spinal cord inhibit the analgesic effects of TENS showing that TENS analgesia is maintained through these pathways . In parallel, studies in people with fibromyalgia show that TENS can restore central pain modulation, a measure of central inhibition . Therefore, TENS reduces hyperalgesia through both peripheral and central mechanisms.
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Auvon Dual Channel Tens Unit
- Pain Relief Machine. The rechargeable electric…
- Up to 20 Modes. Pre-set modes offer you hammering,…
- Independent Mode Control. You can set separate…
This pain relief machine boasts 20 pre-programmed modes to include shiatsu, kneading, tapping and hammering to massage your muscles to help with pain and muscle fatigue.
The rechargeable unit can facilitate 10 hours of usage and offers fully isolated dual-channel options.
This allows you to massage two different areas of the body at different modes at the same time.
Along with your TENS machine youll receive a USB cable and charger, a pad holder and punch, 4 square electrode pads, 4 x large rectangle pads, and 2 lead wires.
The company also offers a 12-month warranty on the product.
Users have complained that the TENS device has to be reset each time it is used, and the pads lose their stickiness relatively quickly.
However, this is one of the cheaper units on our list and there is a 12-month warranty so its a good option if youre on a tight budget.
Pros: 10 hours of usage, 20 pre-programmed modes, 12-month warranty
Cons: Pads lose their stickiness quickly, machine has to be reset each time, difficult to use
Could Tens Cause Pain Or Other Neurological Symptoms
Other than direct injury, its conceivable that TENS could backfire and actually cause pain instead of relieving it. Ive wondered about this, and went looking for evidence of it and found none. If it occurs, its rare and relatively minor.
But I still think its plausible. Any unusual stimulus can potentially be a trigger for the symptoms of certain diseases . A TENS backfire would not involve any harm to the nerves themselves, just a sensory over-reaction.12 Many cases of backfiring might not quite reach the level of pain. For instance, mild numbness, tingling, and other paresthesias are also possible. These are extremely common symptoms in people even when we arent pumping electric current through our flesh, and they usually are completely harmless and temporary, triggered by a variety of minor physiological and psychological circumstances. The strange sensations of TENS, for some patients, might trigger an attack of tingling or numbness.
The best defense against such reactions to TENS or any weird stimulus is mental confidence and optimism.
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How To Use The Tens Unit For Arthritis Pain
Whatâs TENS? TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Basically, itâs a digital battery-operated pain management device which looks more like an MP4 player.
The greatest benefit of TENS is it allows you to manage arthritis pain effectively without the use of drugs. Itâs also a portable device you can easily carry with you to ready yourself for the unexpected moment when pain strikes. All you have to do is apply the electrode patches to the skin area where pain emanates and turn the device on. You can easily wear TENS around the waist so that you could be engaged in another activity.
Let it be known that this device is not meant to rid pain permanently. Itâs there to help you better manage pain. You should consult a health care provider before thinking of using a TENS unit for arthritis pain.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
A TENS unit aims to relieve pain by sending electrical currents that disrupt pain signals to the brain and to release endorphins that make the mind and body feel better through chemical means without using any prescription medication. The biggest draw of using a TENS unit for many users is that it is non-habit forming, so there is no risk of physical addiction to TENS products. Because TENS units function by directly interfering with the way the brain perceives pain, they are often found by users to be effective for numerous conditions, including arthritis.
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What Is Tens And How Does It Work
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the application of electrical current through the skin for pain relief, says researcher Kathleen Sluka, PT, PhD, a professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Iowa.
The TENS device has been around for decades, and although it is not known exactly how the stimulation works, there are theories. TENS activates our bodys own painkillers, says Dr. Sluka, who has extensively studied TENS. Specifically, it can release our natural opioids, endorphins, and enkephalins , and other chemicals to stop pain signals in the brain.
Activating these chemicals, Dr. Sluka says, reduces pain signals in the central nervous system.
In addition, TENS works best for activity-induced pain and should therefore be used when doing activities such as walking, chores, or exercise, she says. TENS is used as a method to control pain to allow people to be more active.
Osteoarthritis Pain Relief Does Tens Work
TENS Machines are ideal for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
TENS is non-invasive, fast acting, drug-free. Pads are placed on or near the area of the arthritis pain.
TENS sends soothing pulses via TENS electrodes through the skin and along the nerve fibers.
The pulses suppress the arthritis pain signals to the brain.
TENS also encourages the body to produce higher levels of its own natural pain killing chemicals i.e. endorphins and encephalins.
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Tens Units And Arthritis
Arthritis: What is it?Arthritis involves inflammation of one or more joints of the body, usually producing pain, redness, and stiffness. Arthritis disables more people than any other chronic disorder. A common form is osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints that commonly occurs with aging. rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease of unknown cause, is a progressive, crippling joint disorder most common in women between 25 and 50.
Arthritis pain relief – does TENS work?TENS unit therapy is ideal for the treatment of arthritis. It is a non-invasive, fast acting, drug-free method of pain relief. Pads are placed on or near the area of the arthritis pain. TENS sends soothing pulses via TENS electrodes through the skin and along the nerve fibers. The pulses suppress the arthritis pain signals to the brain. TENS also encourages the body to produce higher levels of its own natural pain killing chemicals i.e. endorphins and encephalins.
What Are The Common Treatment Except Drugs
Below are the most commonly used treatment procedure without having drugs. How does Revitive help with Arthritis? Revitive uses Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation technique.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation : a small machine that sends tiny electric shocks, through pads placed on your skin, to relieve pain. TENS machines arent suitable for everyone, so talk to your doctor before using one.
Manual Therapy: Consists of several techniques and stretches performed by physiotherapists. Manual therapy can be an effective treatment to increase the quality and range of movement of the hip.
Heat therapy: Ice packs and heat packs, such as a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen peas, can relieve some of the pain and stiffness in your hip. But be careful not to put ice or heat packs directly on your skin as they could cause burns. Make sure to wrap them in a damp tea towel or cloth.
Hyaluronic acid injections: hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body and helps to lubricate joints. These injections arent available on the NHS as theyve not been proven to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture: is a technique where very fine needles are inserted at specific points in your skin. While there is no evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for hip osteoarthritis, some people find that it helps them.
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How Does A Tens Machine Work
- Transcutaneous – means through the skin.
- Electrical – TENS machines deliver small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. TENS machines are thought to affect the way pain signals are sent to the brain.
- Nerve – pain signals reach the brain via nerves and the spinal cord.
- Stimulation – if pain signals can be blocked by the tiny electrical shocks from the TENS machine then the brain will receive fewer signals from the source of the pain.
TENS machines are thought to work in two ways:
- On a high pulse rate of 90-130 Hz , the electrical impulses generated by the TENS machine interfere with and block pain messages sent to the brain. This is due to the gate control theory of pain. This proposes that there is a gate mechanism in the brain and spinal cord nerves . When the gate is open, pain messages get through to the brain and we feel pain. When the gate is closed, these pain messages are blocked and we do not feel pain. TENS machines are thought to stimulate certain non-pain-carrying nerves and close the gate. In effect, the brain is busy dealing with the messages it receives quickly from the TENS machine, rather than the slower pain signals that the body is receiving from elsewhere. It explains why, if you injure yourself, rubbing that area can temporarily reduce the pain.
- When the machine is set on a low pulse rate it stimulates the body to make its own pain-easing chemicals called endorphins. These act a bit like morphine to block pain signals.
Tens Interventions: Emerging Evidence From Recent Clinical Trials
Recent evidence suggests that TENS can be effective for people with fibromyalgia. Although there have been several randomized controlled-trials , no systematic reviews have been published and the quality of these studies and the intervention have varied significantly. Two trials compared TENS to a placebo and used an adequate dose. Dailey et al. showed a one-time session of TENS significantly decreased movement pain and hyperalgesia. No changes were observed in resting pain Lauretti et al. showed TENS using a strong intensity at two sites and at one site produced a significant decrease in pain at rest compared with placebo when applied over a seven day period. Two additional studies show reductions in pain with strong but comfortable intensity HF TENS compared with warmth therapy and to a no TENS group Thus, when used at a strong but comfortable sensation, TENS may be effective for both resting and movement pain in people with fibromyalgia.
Other pain conditions
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What Are The Risks And Side Effects Of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy
TENS therapy has few reported side effects. In rare cases, patients have reported burns at the sites where the electrodes are placed. Some patients may be allergic to the adhesive used to affix the pad to the skin or the materials in the pad itself . Some people may be sensitive to or feel uncomfortable with the prickling/tingling sensation generated by the TENS unit.
What Does A Tens Unit Do Why Would Anyone Want To Use One
Inside, outside There are two broad categories of therapeutic electrical stimulation: central stimulation of the central nervous system , and superficial or peripheral stimulation using electrodes on the skin .
If you stick a couple of electrodes on your skin and pump an electric current through your tissues, you will tickle your nerves and stimulate interesting sensations and/or some mild muscle contractions, which may temporarily drown out pain or distract us from it. More about the biology below.
You can fiddle with various dials for different flavours of TENS. For instance, you can boost the intensity and frequency to get more muscle contraction.5 With a powerful enough TENS machine , it is possible to taze yourself.
And so its possible that just the right setting makes all the difference, just like with phasers. This makes the topic endlessly debatable, even though its obvious that typical TENS doesnt work many miracles. In fact, it probably mostly doesnt work much better for most pain than an aspirin, and its not much good for anything else except maybe some relaxation or gently exercising muscles in rehab.
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Reduction In Central Excitability
In animals without tissue injury, both LF and HF TENS reduce dorsal horn neuron activity . In animals with peripheral inflammation or neuropathic pain, enhanced activity of dorsal horn neurons to both noxious and innocuous stimuli is reduced by both HF and LF TENS . In parallel, there is a reduction in both primary and secondary hyperalgesia by both LF and HF TENS . Furthermore, in people with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, there is a reduction in pressure pain thresholds not only at the site of stimulation, but also at sites outside the area of application , implicating a reduction in central excitability.
HF TENS also reduces central neuron sensitization , and release of the excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate and substance P in the spinal cord dorsal horn in animals with inflammation . The reduction in glutamate is prevented by blockade of -opioid receptors. Thus, one consequence of activation of inhibitory pathways by TENS is to reduce excitation and consequent neuron sensitization in the spinal cord.
How Does Tens Unit Work
A TENS Unit works to ease pain in two ways. It refers to the first theory of TENS that inhibits pain signals as the gate control theory. The non-painful signals from TENS close the gate and stop the pain signals from reaching the brain.
The other evidence for the potency of electrotherapy as a pain reliever, that the TENS treatment released endorphins, the bodys natural opiate-like painkiller. TENS helps acute and chronic pain. It is shown that TENS alleviate osteoarthritis pain and reduces the requirement for pain medications.
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How Effective Are Tens Machines
Research trials looking at the effectiveness of TENS machines have so far been inconclusive. Further large studies are needed to clarify the precise role and effect of using TENS. However, TENS machines have proved to be a popular form of pain relief with some people. As with many forms of treatment, the effect can vary from individual to individual, even with the same condition.
If Tens Works How Does It Work Digging Deeper Into The Biology
What does a tens unit actually do to treat pain? The mechanism cited most often is the counterstimulation effect: pre-empting pain with other sensations. This effect is real but minor, and particularly unlikely to be helpful with severe or chronic pain.
The obligatory, canonical example is that animals instinctively rub on or near acute minor injuries. We self-treat with counterstimulation all the time, and sometimes we even counterirritate ourselves .
This is often informally explained as distracting us from pain were basically flooding sensory pathways with competing sensations, and the nervous system gives priority to tactile sensation over noxious stimuli. This is the phenomenon of counterstimulation, which is based on some simple neurology, sensory bottlenecks in the spinal cord . Its not a high-level, top-down phenomenon. It exploits a limitation and quirk of our wiring. The effect is real, but generally minor and transient. Citing it as a mechanism for TENS is pretty weak sauce .
But what if it wasnt always so minor and transient? But what if there was a fancier, better version of the same thing?
Fancy counterstimulation: novel sensory input descending modulation
This is basically about amusing and calming the brain with interesting, non-threatening sensations, resulting in some descending modulation: the brain turning the alarm volume down.
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