Can TENS Machines help with Shoulder & Neck Pain

By Med-Fit UK Content Team  .  Last Updated Monday, 7th June 2021

Shoulder & Neck Pain:

We all try to maintain a balance between our work environment and home life. If time permits, you might get a chance to take care of yourself. The chances of this are, however, minimal to nil. We have no time to relax and detox our bodies with our busy schedules, resulting in body pains. One of the most commonly experienced problems in adults is shoulder and neck pain. It causes persistent discomfort which cannot be gotten rid of quickly. Physical pain is always an unwanted companion to us. It slows us down and disrupts our days and nights alike.

Typical Causes of Neck & Shoulder Pain:

There can be several causing factors for shoulder and neck pain. Some of them are:

  • Posture: If you have a desk job or you sleep in the wrong position for too long, your shoulders and neck will be the first to start aching. Many people are not conscious of the way they slouch when they sit.
  • Physical Injury: Getting physically hurt can also be a significant reason
  • Stress: Another major factor is excessive tension or stress, which strains the muscles in that area and causes pain.
  • Arthritis: Conditions like arthritis can also cause both shoulder and neck pain because of the degeneration of the bone in that area.
  • Disc Problems: Herniation of the disk can cause severe pain locally
  • Bursitis: Swelling of the bursae can lead to irritation and pain

Is Your Shoulder Pain Actually a Neck Problem?

The key to finding a solution for your pain is to see where it arises. The pain starts from the neck and radiates to the joint in different conditions. Any damage or pinch to a nerve in the neck will cause pain in the shoulder. Cervical radiculopathy is one such problem that causes discomfort in the shoulder and neck. It is thus essential to diagnose the root of the pain, to give proper treatment which results in speedy recovery.

Symptoms of Shoulder and Neck Pain:

Mentioned below are a few signs and symptoms that will help you gain a better understanding of neck or shoulder pain. Traits help gauge the intensity of the pain and the urgency to treat it.

  • One may experience difficulty in moving your neck in all angles. Our necks are supposed to turn up to 180 degrees which are not possible when there is some problem about the neck or shoulders.
  • Not being able to look in a particular direction for too long as your neck might start hurting
  • Frequent headaches as a result of stress that is experienced by the body because of neck pain
  • Stiffness of the local muscles which is especially evident in cases of shoulder pain
  • Frequent spasms or pulls as muscles are weakened by illness
  • The pain might start radiating towards your hands as well in severe cases 

Diagnosing Shoulder and Neck Pain?

Seeking professional help for pain relief is the safest option there is. There are different methods by which doctors diagnose a patient. It helps them understand and find a reason so that a suitable solution can be given. Some of these are

  • X-rays: In cases where a patient has arthritis or similar conditions, X- rays are taken to understand the situation of the bones
  • Myelogram: A coloured dye is sent through the spine to view its status and check if there is any problem near the discs, spinal canal and more
  • MRI and CT Scan: A CT Scan uses images from different angles to get a better picture of the bones. An MRI uses no radiation, unlike CT. It uses radio waves and gives a clear picture of the soft tissues and bones
  • Bone Scan: This also uses radiation and detects places where there is maximum usage of the bone in the body.
  • Electrodiagnostic Testing: checks the electrical activity in the nerves and it is followed by an electromyogram which tests the movement of the muscle

Once you have visited the doctor, one or more of the above tests might be performed on you to understand the problem better.

How to relieve shoulder or neck pain - 7 TOP Tips:

A plethora of options is available to find a long term or immediate relief. Below is a detailed and elaborate list of all the things you could try to feel better

  • 1.   Physical Therapy:

Such therapy should be done under professional supervision and regularly. Some methods of physical therapy are:

  • TENS/EMS: The Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator (TENS Machine) is a small device that has various electrodes that send electrical impulses to the body. Different levels of intensity can be adjusted. The pulses block the pain signals from reaching the brain and also widen the blood vessels increasing the blood flow in that region. The electronic muscle stimulator works on muscle stimulation in a local area. In cases of muscle cramps or spasms in the neck region, EMS works wonders. 
  • Cervical Traction: A device that exercises your neck, cervical traction helps people with conditions like cervical radiculopathy or arthritis. It is a physical therapy that gently stretches like neck resulting in reducing the pressure in that area. It also creates a gap where the nerves have been pinched. Your neck will surely not feel like stiffness like before as it relaxes the joints and muscles near the neck region. Conditions like herniated disc, strain in the neck, muscle spasms have found relief in such therapy.
  • Shoulder Cuff Cryo Therapy: A cuff provides a cushion to the aching shoulder. It supports the shoulder utterly such that the pressure is reduced. New developments like the shoulder cuff crayon therapy have combined the comfort of the cuff with the benefits of cryotherapy. Cryotherapy makes use of extreme cold temperature to reduce pain. The cuff comes with an inbuilt option of a cooler. It is detachable so that it can be removed whenever the temperature is not comfortable. 
  • Back & Neck Massage: The Popular back, neck and shoulder massager has become a customer favourite when it comes to helping relieving pain and kinks in the upper back. 
  • 2.   Yoga Poses:

Spending half an hour of your day to do some yoga could give you a long-lasting relief from neck and shoulder pain. Here are a few poses you could give a try:

  • Scapula Slide: One of the most effective ways to reduce shoulder pain. The scapula slide needs you to lie on your front and get up such that your hands are right below your shoulder. With a slow movement, broaden your shoulder blades and slide from one side to another. This relaxes the scapula and enables natural movement.
  • Neck Retractions: The perfect yoga poses to fix the bad posture that most people have, neck retractions is easy to perform. It would help if you pulled your neck back softy while making sure that your chin is parallel to the ground. Doing this about ten times a day will give you a better stance while texting or working.
  • Child’s Pose: This pose requires you to sit comfortably on your knees and stretch your hands in front of you as you move forward. Rest your head on your hands and focus on where you feel the stress in your neck or shoulders. This pose is extremely comfortable and relieves tension.
  • Cow and Cat Pose: Staying on all fours, move your stomach towards the floor as you inhale and towards the ceiling as you exhale. As you exhale, push your head upwards. The cow and cat pose should be done slowly while being aware of the position that you are in for a few seconds.
  • Dolphin Pose: Going down on all the four, slowly move your knees away from the floor after your curl your toes in. Your back should be well aligned, and the spine should be straight. As you hold the pose for a few seconds, the spine gets stretched and relaxed, relieving shoulder and neck pain.
  • 3.   Massage:

A gentle, soothing massage will cure you of all your pain. Massages are a great way to alleviate stress. They are done with healing oils and natural extractions that will relax your body. Massages also remove any knots that are present in the shoulders. Regular massages from an experienced masseuse will surely reduce your pain. A Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder massager could help relieve some of the pain in your neck and shoulders.

  • 4.   Stretch Your Neck & Shoulder:
  • Bridge: Lying on your back, move your pelvis upwards such that your knees are bent. Your shoulders need to be on the floor, and your hands should be on the floor. The pose stretches your spine and relaxes your neck. 
  • Seated Heart Opener: This pose requires you to sit on your knees, and place your hands behind you comfortably such that you are doing a backbend. It stretches the spine and makes you flexible.
  • Seated Neck Release: Seat yourself comfortably on the floor and stretch your neck to the right using your left hand and vice-versa. This will make your throats more mobile.
  • Behind the Back Neck Stretch: Reach out and hold both of your hands behind your back. Using your left arm straighten your right arm and repeat the same with the other side. Bend your neck slightly to the right and left, depending on which side you are stretching.
  • Seated Clasping Neck Stretch: Clasp your hands behind your neck and gently raise your elbows. Make sure that while stretching, you do not move your spine. This causes a stretch in the neck if appropriately done throughout the day.
  • 5.   Pain Killer Medication:

You can either visit your doctor or buy over the counter painkillers that will help you get rid of shoulder or neck pain. It is always better to consult a doctor before taking medication as it is safer. Some pain killers also act as muscle relaxants and give you the desired result.

  • 6.   Change the Sleeping Pose:

One of the most significant inconveniences caused by neck pain is an unfortunate sleeping position. Most people are unaware of the cause of their neck pain as they do not consider the posture they sleep in.

  • Use Lots of Pillows: Make sure that your neck is supported correctly all through the night regardless of which angle you sleep in. Cushions that are higher under your neck and lower under your head are typically ideal. Make use of pillows to support your shoulders as well.
  • 7.   Home Remedies:

When everything else fails, make use of a few home remedies that will make you feel better. If you do not have the time to do the other methods, home remedies can be a last resort.

  • Hot and Cold Therapy: Using these therapies separately will make you feel better. Hot packs, ice packs can be used simultaneously as well. Ice reduces swelling and inflammation, while heat gives a soothing feeling. Depending on the type of pain you experience, heat or cold therapy should be used. Whenever you are alternating between the two, it is important to alternate between the two treatments as too much heat or cold can increase the pain.