Many injuries leave a chronic and lasting residual pain, long after healing has completed. This can be due to several reasons including the way that bone or tissue healed together, or remaining swelling following the healing process. Depending on the type of injury your physician may require you to receive physical therapy in order to strengthen muscles and regain normalcy in movement and physical functions. Unfortunately, this type of therapy doesn’t always help with pain, and in fact, It can worsen it over time. Physio Works writes: “The use of a TENS machine should be as one part of a pain management program under the guidance of your doctor or healthcare practitioner. Your health practitioner should always be consulted before using a TENS machine.”
TENS units or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units are becoming a more commonly used tools through a number of different types of medicine and treatments. Most recently, these machines are being put to work to deliver pain relief without the need for constant medicating. This can be highly beneficial to those dealing with chronic pain and working through physical therapy, as the amount of pain killers required to numb the ongoing pain could be dangerous in terms of forming an addiction, and in some cases, damaging your liver and other organs.
How TENS Works
TENS units work by delivering gentle and harmless waves of electrical impulses into or around a significantly sore area. The dose of safe and pain-free electrical current works to block pain receptors from sending signals back and forth which signify your bodies need to feel pain. Some medical professionals also believe that Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation works to create natural feel good chemicals in the body, which in turn, calm the pain felt from past injuries. EnrichedHealthCare.com.au explains: “TENS is a non-invasive tool to assist with pain relief. Regular application of the TENs machine can result in reduced pain for up to 4 hours following use. TENs is considered a pain relief tool and not considered curative. The degree of pain relief declines with prolonged use; variation of electrode placement may combat this.”
The electrical current treatment is delivered through the use of electrodes which are placed onto your body with sticky pads. These pads are to be placed around the painful area, so that each dose of electrical current can criss-cross into each other and more thoroughly deliver this type of pain relief to your body. TENS can be used on your shoulder, back, knees, and a variety of other body parts which frequently suffer from sports and other activity related injuries.
Obtaining And Using TENS For Physical Therapy
When you are injured and require physical therapy and pain management due to an accident or other altercation, your physician will refer you to a specialist. At this time your physician may also suggest that you try TENS, or you may request to try it. Many doctors possess trial machines which may be sent home with patients to test, or used in the office to determine whether or not this could be a viable alternative to pain medication for you. If you are approved by your physician you can get a prescription which allows you to go out and purchase one of these units for yourself. Sports Injury Clinic advises: “TENS machines can now be purchased quite readily from certain retail specialists and are easy to apply. However a certain amount of care should be taken as a small proportion of patients suffer from an allergic reaction to the conductive gel, the electrodes themselves or the tape used to secure them in place. Most newer machines come with self-adhesive electrodes that can be changed after each application to decrease the risk of cross infection if more than one person is using the machine.”
These machines are generally portable, making them easy to transport to and from physical therapy appointments or wear at home, or while traveling. When you use TENS units you must be very direct in following instructions to the detail. Wearing the device for too long, or when you shouldn’t be wearing it can be damaging, both to your external skin and internally.
Although the impulses being used in Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation are harmless for the most part. The effect that they have on an unborn fetus, for example, have yet to be properly tested. This means that pregnant women are encouraged not to use TENS while carrying a baby, unless it is during the delivery process under direct orders and observation of a physician. Sometimes a very specific type of TENS unit will be utilized at this time, so it is important to take the advice of your doctor.
Injuries and pain associated with those injuries can be treated using TENS machines at home, as well as during physical therapy. You might find that it helps ease the pain after a treatment or during, by using the machine before you go receive therapy. Not every type of injury or pain can benefit from this type of electrical stimulation, which is one advantage to testing the unit with your doctor before buying one for yourself. Some physical therapists may also offer this treatment in their offices, which could make it easier to decide if your own portable unit is necessary.
Some TENS don’t require a prescription, but it is still important to determine whether it is suitable for you with a medical professional before beginning therapy.