Are TENS Electrodes Effective At Pain Relief?
Millions of people across the world suffer from chronic pain, with the results being a severely reduced quality of life. In some cases, this can mean the use of lifelong treatment using powerful painkillers and even ongoing bouts of surgery. However, there is a treatment that has brought pain relief to many of these sufferers without the need for invasive surgery or potentially damaging pharmaceuticals.
The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) system uses electrical stimulation to cause muscle contraction and promote the secretion of the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, as well as the secretion of serotonin which has been reported to contribute to healing and dealing with pain.
The TENS system is suitable for the treatment of a variety of chronic pain conditions as well as acute bouts of pain. Chronic sufferers of lower back pain, sciatica, and general nerve pain have found relief through the use of this system. It has also proven effective in the treatment of postoperative pain and the treatment of sports injuries involving soft muscle tissue.
At the heart of TENS units are the TENS electrodes, which are attached to the skin area where the pain is located. Once the TENS system is activated, a series of electrical pulses are delivered subcutaneously (below the skin). This causes muscles to contract and expand in a rhythmic manner bringing pain relief. TENS also acts to block the passage of nerve transmission that is associated with the brain’s perception of pain.
The TENS electrodes can deliver a variety of electrical impulses at different levels. Those using the system usually start at the lower settings and gradually work their way up towards the setting that seems most effective at reducing their level of pain.
Studies have shown that the regular use of TENS can significantly reduce the use of analgesics, especially in postoperative recovery.
Perhaps the easiest way to correctly use the TENS electrodes is by seeking the advice of a qualified physiotherapist. They will also be able to assist those suffering from pain in finding the correct settings that will bring the most relief. However, the use of a specialist is not mandatory as TENS is available as an over-the-counter pain relief system.
If the system is purchased over the counter, the correct attachment of the electrodes should be in a vertical pattern if the area of pain is large. The first electrode should be placed on the area where the pain starts and the other where it ends. For chronic lower back pain sufferers, the electrodes should be placed on either side of the affected area of the lower back, taking care not to place the electrodes too close to the spine.
Many people have reported that pain levels have been reduced after only 20 to 30 minutes of TENS use and that relief can continue for periods as long as two hours. Due to the fact that TENS is non-invasive, the treatment can be repeated numerous times during the course of a day. For severe chronic pain, the TENS treatment can even be applied for hours at a time.