A Tens Unit, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine, can help back and neck pain that may be caused by trauma or continual strain. The body responds to such pain or injury with muscle guarding, an attempt to immobilize the painful area by tightening the muscles surrounding the injury. Muscle guarding impairs circulation in the affected area.
The decrease in blood supply leads to a decrease in metabolism with an accumulation of waste products. TENS therapy (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator) can help break this pain cycle and aid in the normal healing process.
How Does a TENS Unit Work?
TENS units are a machine with different adjustable settings to control intensity of stimulation by controlling the voltage, meaning current, and pulse duration of each pulse. Electrodes are placed at specific sites on a user’s body depending on the physical location of their pain. The machine sends electrical current that travels through electrodes and into the skin stimulating specific nerve pathways to produce a tingling or massaging sensation that reduces the perception of pain.
When a Tens Unit is used as directed a T.E.N.S. is a safe, noninvasive, drug-free method of pain management. A TENS unit is used to offer a better quality of life for people with pain.
What does a TENS unit do to relieve, decrease or eliminate pain?
There are two theories. One of these theories is called The Gate Control Theory and is the most advanced explanation. The gate-control theory suggests that there’s a neural mechanism in spinal cord that acts as a kind of gate, shutting down or opening up the flow of signals from the periphery to the brain. Whether the gate is open, closed or partially closed depends on what sort of signal it receives from the brain to change the perception of pain in the user’s body. These frequencies interfere with the transmission of pain messages at the so spinal cord level, and help block their transmission to the brain.
Another theory is called The Endorphin Release, which suggests that electrical impulses stimulate the production of endorphins and enkaphalins in the body. These natural morphine-like substances block pain messages from reaching the brain, in a similar fashion to conventional drug therapy, but without the danger of dependence of other side effects.
TENS units are used for the relief of physical pain. Some common uses for TENS treatment are:
- acute and chronic pain
- post op incisions and post surgical pain
- migraine and tension headaches
- acute pain from sports and other injuries
- chronic pain from tendentious and bursitis
- cancer pain
- wound healing
For more information on TENS Therapy, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Warwick, RI.