Fibromyalgia has been misunderstood in the past, and for that reason it sometimes goes untreated or undiagnosed. This condition is chronic and affects individuals with pain, which can be felt in the tendons, ligaments and muscles. This can make the body feel quite sore and tired, and even the slightest amount of pressure in certain areas may be excruciating.
In the pas fibromyalgia has been treated through a number of different medicinal and therapeutic methods, most recently through the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS. TENS can be used through small portable devices with electrodes extending from it. These electrodes are stuck onto the skin around the area which is causing pain, and they emit a gentle electrical pulse which works to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
Using Your TENS
Unlike other types of medical treatments, TENS units can be used at home by yourself or with the help of a spouse or parent. The machines vary in price, and can be purchased through a number of retailers, including those online. Some people obtain their machines through their physician or physical therapist, while others may rent one from a local supplier. Rheummd.org writes: “People who seem to successfully use the therapy typically undergo training with the machine by a trained therapist and regular follow-up with such therapists. Machines are of highly variable quality and complexity, which is often reflected in cost. It would be best to contact a physiatrist or rehabilitation specialist to discuss TENS and help with choosing the right TENS machine.”
It is a good idea to try TENS treatment before purchasing a machine for yourself, as different people have different reactions to the electric pulses. It has shown some considerable improvement over pain in those suffering from a number of illnesses, disorders, and injuries, but it is not for everybody, and those who have heart issues, or pacemakers are encouraged to seek alternative treatment.
How TENS Found Its Place In Fibromyalgia
In the past, machines like the TENS unit weren’t a good fit for cases of Fibromyalgia, simply because the pain often moves around so much and comes in different levels for those who suffer. More recently, however, it has shown improvement in this condition for those who are able to pinpoint certain areas where the pain persists. Unfortunately, it may not be able to eradicate all pain in cases of Fibromyalgia, but it can make a difference. The Mayo Clinic reports: “The pain of fibromyalgia isn’t limited to a specific area, so TENS therapy isn’t generally used as a treatment. However, some new research has shown that TENS may be effective for reducing pain in people who have fibromyalgia, especially in combination with other treatments, such as exercise.”
One of the great things about TENS is that it can be used with other treatments so long as the other treatments don’t utilize the same electrical stimulation to relieve pain. Medicine, massage, stretching, exercise, and other therapeutic approaches can all be used in tandem to provide the highest level of pain relief available to sufferers. This is different from pain relief decades ago, when the only reliable treatments were those achieved through traditional medicine.
Although some may still stand as skeptics to the concept of TENS relief working for a Fibromyalgia patient, recent studies have proven that the success rate is greater than originally anticipated. Many sufferers who take advantage of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation are able to find relief through the instrument. The Fibromyalgia Network explains the results of trials on Fibromyalgia patients using TENS units as follows: “A greater than 50% drop in painful symptoms of fibromyalgia for patients not taking any medications or using other treatments is substantial. In addition, none of the patients experienced intolerable side effects, which can be a turnoff when trying a new drug or other approaches.”
This is a huge discovery in the sense that there were no side effects to the use of TENS. It sets high expectations for the medical community when it comes time to upgrade and update the technology, and it offers hope to patients who suffer from Fibromyalgia on a regular basis and have previously worried that new treatments may make it worse before making it better.
Talk To Your Doctor
Just like with the addition of any new treatment for pain or illness, Fibromyalgia patients are encouraged to speak to their doctors or physical therapists prior to a trial run with a TENS unit. TENS machines vary by size and functionality, and should be tested by a professional before you purchase one to use in ongoing treatments.
If you are nervous about the concept of utilizing a treatment like this alone at home, you can inquire with your therapist about the possibility of using a treatment like this weekly to start, supervised in the office. Once you find a rhythm with the tool, you may be more at ease with the operation of it.
Fibromyalgia can feel like a long term punishment to sufferers, frequently undergoing many emotional and mental problems due to the constant pain which they feel. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation gives new hope which may help to irradiate some of the emotional responses which are felt due to chronic pain. Those patients who endure a lot of fatigue due to symptoms may also begin to experience more energy, once the treatments effectively offer pain management.