TENS unit is a method of pain relief which involves mild electrical current: Do you know what is a tens unit? TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a form of back pain treatment. It involves the use of low voltage current for providing pain relief.
The procedure is carried out by using a TENS unit, which is a small battery operated device. The device can be attached to a belt and is connected to two electrodes. These electrodes carry electric current to the affected skin area from the TENS machine.
TENS unit is considered to be safe when used properly. You should consult a doctor before deciding on using a TENS unit. The results of TENS depend from person to person and it should be avoided during pregnancy and by people who have a pacemaker. You need to take the following precautions while using a TENS unit:
- Use TENS only for the purpose your doctor prescribes it for and inform your doctor if your condition changes.
- Do not leave the electrode in place for a long time span without cleaning or checking your skin beneath them.
- In case of a rash or burn beneath the electrodes, you should stop the TENS treatment.
- Avoid placing the electrodes on irritated, and broken skin.
- While driving or handling some kind of machinery, do not use TENS.
- Do not use the TENS unit while taking a shower.
- DO not use TENS along with heating pads and ice pads.
- Avoid using TENS while you are asleep.
How does TENS work?
After knowing what is a tens unit, you should know about its working:
- Transcutaneous– this signifies “through the skin”.
- Electrical– TENS unit delivers small electrical pulses to the body through the electrodes placed on your skin. The TENS unit affects the way pain signals are sent to your spinal cord and brain.
- Nerve– Pain signals reach your brain through nerves and the spinal cord.
- Stimulation– If pain signals are blocked by the electric shocks provided by TENS unit, the brain receives lesser signals from the source of pain.
The TENS machine usually works in two primary ways:
On the high pulse rate, between 90 to 130 Hz, the electrical impulse which the TENS device generates, interferes and blocks pain messages which are sent to the brain. This is based on the gate control theory of pain. According to this theory, there is a gate mechanism in the spinal cord nerves and brain. When the gate stays open, pain messages can go through to the brain, which make us feel the pain. When the gate is closed, the pain messages get blocked and fail to reach the brain. Hence, no pain is experienced or felt. The TENS unit stimulates several nerves which are non pain carrying and the gate is closed.
When the TENS unit is set at a low pulse rate, between 2 to 5 Hz, the body is stimulated to make endorphins which are pain easing chemicals. These block pain signals by acting like morphine.
You can control a TENS machine personally. The settings can be adjusted without having to visit a health professional. You should use the machine for 15 to 20 minutes per session, many times a day.
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