Choosing The Right Tens
What Is A TENS Machine?
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine is a small, battery-operated device that is used as a method of pain relief, and often as an alternative to painkillers. These machines have sticky pads (electrodes) connected to the machine, which are then attached directly to your skin. Once the machine is switched on, a small electrical current is delivered to the affected areas of your body - you'll likely feel a tingling sensation during this process, but using a TENS machine is pain-free.
This electrical nerve stimulation reduces the pain signals that travel from the spinal cord to the brain, which helps to alleviate many types of pain and relax the muscles. As well as this, transcutaneous nerve stimulation encourages the production of endorphins, which are known as the body's natural painkiller.
At Med-Fit, you can access a wide range of TENS products that have different programmes and purposes depending on your needs. Whilst this guide is designed to help you get informed about what's on offer and what might be best for you, we understand that it can be hard to know which product would offer the most effective pain relief for your issue.
That’s why our team are always happy to discuss your requirements and recommend products based on your needs. Better still, once you’ve purchased the product, we’ll always be on-hand to offer advice whenever you need it, including instructions on how to set your device up. Please call 0161 429 7330 or email us at [email protected] for more information and support.
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What Are These Devices Used For?
- Pain in the back, shoulders, knees, neck, joints, and muscles
- Nerve pain
- Muscle inflammation
- Tennis elbow
- Arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia
- Period pain
- Postoperative pain
- Sometimes, TENS are also used to ease labour pain.
Although Tens machines are used mostly as a method of pain relief, they can also be used as a pain inhibitor during medical procedures. Using the TENS machine over time can lead to better health and wellness in general too.
A TENS machine can help the user to administer an appropriate level of pain relief by altering the electrical current. TENS devices usually have a frequency or a helpful guide to help you understand what setting would be appropriate for your pain.
How Does A TENS Machine Work?
The Endorphin Release Theory suggests that the battery-powered device works by delivering electrical stimulation to the sensory nerve endings that control pain. With the help of these currents passing to the brain, endorphins are released, thus reducing the discomfort felt by the patient. They act exactly like prescription drugs but without the side effects.
According to the Gate Control Theory, a neural mechanism located in our spines acts as a gate that closes and opens when it receives signals from the brain. The electric signals produced by the TENS interfere with the pain signals in the body. As a result, the 'gate' reacts to the signals produced by the TENS machine as opposed to the signals produced by the body. This means that even if you would usually feel pain, your brain would struggle to interpret the related signals.
The Advantages Of Using This Method Of Pain Relief:
- Reduces the need for painkillers or analgesics.
- It is an affordable option to relieve pain, without using any kind of medication.
- Unlike pain medication, TENS can be used without fear of any severe side effects, and most users will bounce back to normality pretty quickly. TENS has no adverse effects on the body. It works in a way that makes the body respond naturally and efficiently.
- It is portable and easy to use.
- Since it stimulates the nerve and muscles, it also works to reduce fatigue and exhaustion caused by our sedentary and fast-paced lifestyles. TENS can improve your general wellbeing as opposed to just aches and pains - it has even been found to improve sleep cycles and patterns.
- With the right kind of electric stimulation, TENS can reduce inflammation located deep inside the muscle fibres, and also relieve pain from pinched nerves and sciatica.
- The device also acts as a natural massager, which in turn facilitates motion within the body and improves motor function. It aids in blood circulation and reduces muscle spasms.
How To Use A Tens machine?
Since TENS machines are medical devices, you should always check with your doctor that it is safe to use. As well as this, you should read the manual and follow the instructions to reduce the risk of injury whilst using the device. While every device will have its own specific set of rules and instructions, the most basic ones are listed below:
- Gently place the sticky pads or the electrodes on the affected area.
- Start the TENS unit at its lowest setting and then gradually increase the setting until you are comfortable.
- Never place the pads on your face, directly on the heart, on swollen or inflamed areas, or on broken skin. If you do have sensitive skin, there are pads available to prevent skin irritation.
- Ensure that the unit is adequately charged before use. If it is battery operated then make sure to change the batteries often.
- To increase the lifespan of the device's pads, avoid touching the gel on them. Pour a few drops of water on the pad before attaching it to clean skin. Always put the protective films on the pads before putting them back in the box.
- Store the unit in a cool and dry place.
- Remove the lead wires after using the TENS unit and place them in the box when they’re not in use.
Do Tens Machines Work?
There's evidence from a range of healthcare, physiotherapists and sports professionals to suggest that TENS machines help those suffering from different types of pain. However, it's important to note that the performance and the effectiveness of the TENS machine will depend on the individual, how it’s used, and the condition being treated.
Are There Any Side-Effects?
For the majority of people, TENS is a very safe treatment and a preferred, drug-free alternative for pain management, with minimal side effects providing that the machine is used correctly. However, if the current is too high, you might experience skin irritation. This is why following the instructions for the device is essential.
TENS is not safe for everyone to use, please seek medical advice before use if:
- You have epilepsy or a heart problem.
- You have a pacemaker or any other implanted electrical device.
Are TENS Machines Good For Labour?
TENS is known to be an effective method of pain management during the early stages of labour, when most women begin experiencing lower back pains. You should check with a medical professional before using a TENS machine during pregnancy but if it is safe to use during labour, you should begin using the machine when you start to feel regular and general contractions or backaches.
As for using during pregnancy more generally, many users usually feel that TENS machines are most effective during the early or first stages of pregnancy.
However, some may want to continue using into the second stages of pregnancy – this could be to reduce pain in certain areas, especially for women that are experiencing chronic low-back pain.
How Long Does Pain Relief Last?
The duration of pain relief after using a TENS unit can vary depending on your injury or condition - some people report that their pain returns as soon as they switch off the device, whereas others state that their pain doesn't return for at least 24 hours.
There are a number of studies to suggest that the duration of pain relief does increase after repeated use of TENS machines. However, please use the device wisely and consult with a medical professional before use, as repeated use can potentially increase the likelihood of a user building up a tolerance to the TENS treatment.
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We very proud of our commitment and after-sales service our TENS and muscle stimulators have been purchased by virtually every NHS hospital and pain clinic in the NHS and supplied to countless professionals institutions and research programmes.
Choosing the right stimulator for yourself is our goal. It’s pointless purchasing a stimulator that has many features that you will never use. Also a device may be more expensive than an alternative model which will benefit you just as well.
Need more advice?
Remember just call today on 0161 429 7330 for any advice on any of our TENS Machines and Muscle Stimulation Machines