As electrotherapy technology advances and is applied to healthcare and fitness, more and more people are accessing the benefits of this remarkable treatment. There are a number of conditions which subject the subject to intense and/or chronic pain, but the introduction of electrotherapy and TENS therapy in particular has offered unparalleled relief. Previously, subjects might never have considered the possibility of living a pain free life, but new advancements are now offering a realization to that dream.
What Is TENS Therapy And Who Can It Help?
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is the most widely used type of electrotherapy, but, even so, there is still some mystery surrounding the treatment for those uneducated in its usage. Practically speaking, electrodes connect a battery operated device to the body via sticky patches attached to the skin. Once the device is activated, an electric current is delivered to the area of the body experiencing pain, stimulating sensory nerves.
The patient will feel a tingling sensation, as the treatment is administered and the pain will subside, or go away completely. The therapy is placed entirely in the subject’s hands, literally. A handheld remote control device gives the subject complete control over the TENS unit and how the therapy is delivered. The individual may control the intensity of the current from a low frequency to a higher output. Additionally, the remote control also features options for changing the pattern of the current, which adjusts the way the sensory nerves are stimulated.
TENS therapy has been used to help in the relief of a variety of treatments.
Neck and Lower Back Pain – In treating neck stiffness and discomfort, this type of electrotherapy has proven effective in reducing pain for short periods of time. Low back pain has also been treated with TENS, though the effect has been different for different subjects.
Diabetic Nerve Pain – TENS has arguably proven the most effective on these patients, significantly reducing pain for subjects in three different studies. The effects lasted up to six weeks for participants, but had dissipated by the time the test subjects attended a 12-week follow up exam.
Fibromyalgia Pain – While studies are limited, TENS therapy has proven to increase tolerance for patients during physical activity. Considering the potential for fibromyalgia patients, more studies are likely to be forthcoming.
Do I Need A Doctor To Receive TENS Therapy?
Technically, the answer to that question is no, but most subjects are first introduced to the treatment through sessions with a physical therapist or a chiropractor. This is the most recommended first introduction to electrotherapy, because it enables the subject to see just how effective TENS treatments are in the relief of pain and discomfort.
Where the level of relief is significant, the subject can then purchase a unit for home use. As with any new technology, the first TENS models were larger and inconvenient for home use, but that has changed with newer advances and a wider interest in TENS therapy.
Today, there are even smaller, wearable TENS devices that administer the current directly through the battery powered device worn beneath the clothing. The devices can be attached via a strap or band to the knee, arm, or back and can be worn in a way that will make them undetectable to others. These portable devices make it possible to receive treatments without missing work, canceling social engagements, or putting off daily errands.
Depending on the patient’s needs, TENS therapy can be done in 30 minute sessions or may run any length of time, even on a continuous cycle throughout the day. Some subjects reported using the unit while sleeping, eliminating the need to wear the TENS device during the day, when it might pose more of a distraction.
The effectiveness of TENS is still largely debated. While some chronic pain sufferers swear by it and make it a prime component of their treatment regiment, others have reported experiencing minimal relief. As the demand for this form of electrotherapy heightens, more studies will reveal the exact circumstances in which TENS therapy works best. In the meantime, accessing treatment through an experienced practitioner will help subjects determine if the therapy is right for them, before investing in a home unit for their own personal use.