Tens: Can TENS help relieve Neuropathy Pain?
By Med-Fit UK Content Team . Last Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2023
What is Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when peripheral nerves, situated outside the brain and spinal cord, sustain damage, resulting in symptoms such as weakness, numbness, and pain, typically in the hands and feet. Additionally, this condition can impact various body functions, including digestion and urination.
The peripheral nervous system, responsible for transmitting information from the central nervous system (comprising the brain and spinal cord) to the rest of the body through motor nerves, also conveys sensory information back to the central nervous system via sensory nerves.
Traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic issues, hereditary factors, and exposure to toxins are potential causes of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes stands out as one of the most prevalent triggers for neuropathic conditions.
Individuals experiencing peripheral neuropathy often describe the associated pain as stabbing, burning, or tingling. Symptoms may improve, especially when linked to treatable conditions, and medications can be employed to alleviate the pain.
Peripheral neuropathy serves as an overarching term encompassing nerve disorders affecting specific subdivisions of the nervous system. The diverse array of conditions contributing to peripheral neuropathy results in a broad spectrum of potential symptoms. The impact of peripheral neuropathy can extend to various body parts, contingent upon the underlying causes and mechanisms leading to its occurrence.
What are the symptoms?Peripheral neuropathy manifests a range of symptoms impacting individual nerves, connected nerve groups, or multiple nerves across the body. The specific symptoms experienced hinge on the type of nerve signals affected, with the potential involvement of various signal types.
- Motor symptoms originate from the transmission of motor signals by the peripheral nervous system, facilitating movement. These symptoms include muscle weakness and paralysis, muscle atrophy leading to reduced size and strength, and uncontrolled muscle movements such as cramps. EMS machines have been known to help with stimulating the muscles in order to strengthen weakened muscles, reduce swelling or relieve pain.
- Sensory symptoms emerge from disruptions in peripheral nerves transmitting external stimuli to the brain. These encompass tingling, resembling radio static, numbness affecting specific sensations, imbalance and clumsiness affecting coordination, and pain, where nerve damage intensifies pain signals or induces spontaneous neuropathic pain.
- Autonomic symptoms stem from disturbances in autonomic signals governing involuntary bodily functions. These symptoms comprise alterations in blood pressure, excessive or insufficient sweating, bowel and bladder issues, sexual dysfunction, and additional manifestations like changes in skin color, swelling, and vision problems.
Various factors can cause peripheral neuropathy, including unmanaged type 2 diabetes, prolonged alcohol consumption, deficiencies in vitamins (B1, B6, B9, B12, folic acid, and E), autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, specific medications and toxins, tumors (malignant or benign), genetic conditions like amyloidosis and Fabry disease, infections from viruses or bacteria, Hansen disease (leprosy), trauma or surgery, vascular disorders affecting circulation, and idiopathic neuropathy, where the cause remains unknown.
What causes neuropathy?Peripheral neuropathy can impact individuals without regard to age, gender, race, ethnicity, personal circumstances, or medical history. However, certain people are more susceptible to specific types of peripheral neuropathy. The prevalence of peripheral neuropathy is closely linked to age-related diseases, indicating an elevated risk as individuals age.
Peripheral neuropathy is widespread, encompassing various conditions. Globally, around 2.4% of the population experiences some form of peripheral neuropathy. Among those aged 45 and above, this percentage rises to between 5% and 7%.
Peripheral neuropathy arises from nerve damage due to various health conditions, including:
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome:
Over half of those with diabetes develop some form of neuropathy.
Viral or bacterial infections like Lyme disease, shingles, hepatitis B and C, leprosy, diphtheria, and HIV.
Hereditary neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Bone Marrow Disorders:
Conditions like monoclonal gammopathies, rare myeloma, lymphoma, and amyloidosis.
Metabolic issues such as kidney or liver disease.
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
How can TENS help relieve pain?
Despite being a relatively recent treatment for neuropathic pain, evidence-based reviews published in 2020 affirm the efficacy of TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) in alleviating pain for those with neuropathy linked to sciatica, spinal cord injuries, and postherpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles).
TENS machines are widely considered safe, and its administration is accessible to individuals without specific training or experience. This safety is attributed to the mild nature of the electrical pulses delivered by at-home TENS units, which pose no risk of causing pain. Additionally, these devices feature user-friendly settings that can be easily adjusted by individuals without a medical background.
Some Tens & EMS Products that are popular amongst those with Neuropathy are as follows:
- Medi-Boost: This machine has become a very popular product for those looking to improve their blood circulation, reduce swelling around the legs and ankles but also relieve pain in the legs and ankles. Additionally, the machine has an attachment for Tens Electrodes giving you the ability to use tens and ems on other areas of the body whilst you treat your legs.
- Premier Tens Machine & Muscle Stimulation: This machine offers TENS and EMS and very popular machines for those looking to treat arthritis, muscle pain, foot and ankle pain, shoulder pains and much more. The tens device comes with 12 tens and ems programmes.