TENS units, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units, are devices which work to deliver mild electrical stimulation to specific areas where pain might be occurring. Over the years, these machines have become smaller, lighter, and better at targeting pain. They may also be used for other purposes, or for specific disorders and illnesses, such as fibromyalgia. Recently, the TENS unit has shown great relief for patients suffering from Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage is eventually ground down over time between the joints. This is common in men and women who suffer from inflammation of the joints, and it is a degenerative disease with no known cure. While there is no way to halt the condition altogether, using tools, such as a TENS unit, patients of the disease are able to reduce pain, halt symptoms, and lead comfortable, more normal lives.
With more than twenty-seven million citizens in the United States being affected by the disease, there is constant research in motion to develop more effective treatments. The disease can affect joints in any part of the body, such as the back, neck, fingers, and hips, as well as toes and knees. Medical News Today reports: “Osteoarthritis is more common among females than males, especially after the age of 50 years. Most commonly, it develops in people aged over 40. Younger people may also be affected; usually after an injury or as a result of another joint condition. Some people say that osteoarthritis is an inevitable part of ageing. This is untrue. There are people well into their nineties who have no clinical or functional signs of the disease.”
The pain caused by the disease can be debilitating, even causing men and women to leave work and be confined to wheel chairs or beds when the pain becomes too intense. More than $120,000,000,000 is spent each year in the United States on medical care and other medical related costs due to arthritis. This makes the TENS machine an even more appealing option for those who have sought other treatments and found no relief.
When To Try TENS
Ultimately, your doctor is the one who will need to refer you to buy or rent the machine. This will occur after symptoms present themselves and you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Your physician may have a TENS unit available for you to try before you begin long term treatments, or you may be provided with information on physiotherapists and alternative medical personnel who can assist in the use of these machines. ArthritisResearchUK.org reports: “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can be used for pain relief, although research evidence suggests that it doesn’t work for everyone. A TENS machine is a small electronic device that sends pulses to the nerve endings via pads placed on the skin. The device produces a tingling sensation which is thought to modify the pain messages sent to the brain. TENS machines are available from pharmacies and other major stores, but a physiotherapist may be able to loan you one to try before you decide to buy one.”
Depending on your needs, the TENS unit you use can be large for home use or compact for travel. They can assist in the pain and stiffness associated with the disorder, but cannot fully halt inflammation which causes the pain. This means that additional medication may be required, and used in tandem with the machine.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can be used as needed, or in timed delivery, depending on the orders of your physician and your specific needs. There are some factors to consider before using TENS for your pain, and these are things that you doctor will go over with you before treatment. The electrical impulses may be mild, but should not be delivered near the stomach of a pregnant women, or over a wound that is not healed.
As the stimulation is delivered, the pain signals are halted, causing pain to subside in that area for some time. ClinicalTrials.gov says the following regarding research in pain responses and TENS: “Hyperalgesia, an increased response to a noxious stimuli, is one component of pain and occurs both at the site of injury, primary hyperalgesia, and outside the site of injury, secondary hyperalgesia. Recent studies in animals with arthritis of the knee show that low and high frequency TENS differentially modulate primary and secondary hyperalgesia. Therefore the investigators hypothesize that TENS will reduce hyperalgesia and pain with movement resulting in increased function.”
These findings, and other research targeted at the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and osteoarthritis offers hope to those who have tried traditional treatments without relief from ongoing pain. One of the worst symptoms associated with the progressive disease is the constant pain during or after motion, causing many to be less active. TENS could be the answer needed to enjoy an active lifestyle once again.