TENS is a non-invasive, low-risk nerve stimulation intended to reduce pain, both acute and chronic. Transcutaneous means through the skin. TENS machines deliver small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. TENS machines are thought to affect the way pain signals are sent to the brain. Pain signals reach the brain via nerves and the spinal cord. If pain signals can be blocked by the tiny electrical shocks from the TENS machine, then the brain will receive fewer signals from the source of the pain.
TENS units are small battery-operated devices that are frequently hooked to a belt or adhered to the skin directly. The TENS unit is connected to two electrodes, which carry an electric current from the TENS machine to the skin. Unlike drugs, which affect the entire body, electrotherapy targets the pain exactly where it is at and felt. A modern TENS unit is very simple to use and compact enough to take with you to work, or while at play.
TENS units, when properly used, are generally safe. An adequate intensity of stimulation is necessary to achieve pain relief with TENS. If you think you would like to try TENS for back pain, speak to your doctor first. The technique works differently for different people, and it’s not for everyone. Your doctor may advise against using TENS if you have a pacemaker or you are in the first weeks of a pregnancy.
A TENS Unit can help back and neck pain caused by trauma or strain. Our body responds to pain such as this by tightening our muscles up in an attempt to guard and protect the muscles. Muscle guarding inhibits proper circulation to the affected area. The TENS therapy can help relieve the pain and can also play a major role in the normal healing process. A few studies have shown objective evidence that TENS may modulate or suppress pain signals in the brain.
History of TENS Units
In the nineteenth century machines were invented that used static electricity to treat headaches, migranes and other types of pain. They were very popular until medicinal pain killers were discovered and the crude static electricity machines became obsolute. It was not until the 1970’s when electrical pain killing devices were once again used by the mainstream with the discovery of TENS. Modern TENS units are capable of producing a wide range of electrical signals and are able to be adjusted to suit a wide range of individual types of pain and applications.