A tens machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) is a electrotherapy device that is used to control pain through the bodies sensory nerves. It works by basically transmitting low frequency electrical signals through the skin into the body which blocks the pain signals being sent to the brain.
The great thing about tens machines are that they are an alternative to using prescription pain killers and that they work almost instantly after switching on the device.
They are very easy to use and the range of battery operated small portable devices available means that you can use them at home, work or anywhere you choose.
Depending on the model, they usually come with four self adhesive electrode pads which you attach to the body around the area of pain. The pads have a small wire which connects them to the control unit. The control unit is a small device which are normally a little bigger than a pack of playing cards. You normally have a range of settings on the control unit which allows you to control the intensity, pulse rate and pulse width. This allows you to find the setting which provides the most pain relief.
A tens machine can be used to help control pain on a wide range of conditions such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, muscle pain, sports injuries and migraines etc. They are also widely used to help control pain from arthritis, cancer pains and when recovering from surgery.
Safety wise they are very safe to use and you can use them for as long as you want, but should relocate the pads every ten minutes or so to allow the skin to breath. It’s normally recommended that you continue to use every day until the condition has recovered and it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a Health Professional who can advise you the best position to place the electrodes for your condition. There are no known side effects for continued use.
Some patients can feel the pain relief for some time even after the device is no longer being used. Of course this depends upon a number of factors but it’s not unheard of to feel reduction in pain for 3 or 4 times the period for which the device was used. Continued use can also help your body produce Endorphins which is your body’s natural defence against pain.
In terms of cost, you can pick up a basic tens machine for around $20 which is great if perhaps you want to try tens for pain relief or are on a budget. The more expensive units go up to about $120 and have many more treatment modes and features and are better suited if you have used one before or have a longer term condition which perhaps requires usage over a longer period of time.
Some of the more expensive units also have a mode for electronic muscle stimulation or EMS. This basically works but omitting electrical signals into the muscle which in turn flex’s the muscle which have help you to achieve your personal training goals. Some sports persons use a EMS device when they have suffered an injury and unable to work out or train. They use the device on uninjured muscle groups to help maintain fitness whilst they recover.
Check out this video for further information