If wireless transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the future, then the future may be closer than you think. Recently, the very first wireless unit was cleared by the FDA, allowing users to operate their pain treatment through a phone application. These units deliver the same pain relief as other models, with even more opportunity to live life normally by incorporating the treatment into work and travel, as well as home use. PR News Wire reports on the latest approved device, the iTENS, saying: “Until now, most wearable medical technologies that work in tandem with a smart phone have been used to gather data or deliver biofeedback, whereas the iTENS actually delivers a therapeutic treatment stimuli to provide instant and long-lasting pain relief. In addition, the iTENS measures your pain scale, tracks your results, and charts your progress.”
TENS units are not a new technology, in fact, they have been used for several decades now, although the machines have continued to evolve as new information presents itself. The device works by sending harmless electrical impulses into the body, near areas of pain. The impulses help to halt pain signals being transmitted to the brain, as well as aiding in the production of natural pain killing chemicals which are released into the blood stream to create comfort and pain relief.
Choosing Your TENS
While this new release for wireless use helps to improve the pain relief strategies of those who utilize them, each individual will choose their unit based on their own needs. Somebody with osteoarthritis, for example, may require this type of constantly available pain relief, while somebody with a sports injury could make due with a home unit and regularly scheduled treatment times.
Some TENS users never even buy their own model, choosing instead to visit a physiotherapy clinic or other medical specialist for treatments once a week, or more often. Others may rent devices or combined their TENS delivery with medication and alternative treatment options.
TENS can be used for a number of ailments and illnesses, including Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and sports injuries, among others. Web MD writes: “You can set the TENS machine for different wavelength frequencies, such as a steady flow of electrical current or a burst of electrical current, and for intensity of electrical current. Your physical therapist, acupuncturist, or doctor usually determines these settings.”
The treatments have shown little to no negative side effects, although they do not work for every individual, or for every condition. TENS is very safe, but due to the way it targets specific areas for pain relief, it may not work in situations where large portions of the body require attention at the same time, or where pain is constantly moving.
Wireless Vs. Wired
While the wireless TENS is very new, there is still some documentation available in regards to some of the differences between the two. Most units tend to be battery operated now, which is good as it ensures the electrical impulses are not at such an intensity that they could harm the user. Wireless travel versions are likely to offer lower settings than wired ones do, but this could change as machines continue to evolve.
Both machines types have shown promise in use on human pain, with both high and low frequencies offering a sense of relief. Some users prefer to have their machine at a higher level than others, while some enjoy the soft gentle relief offered at lower settings. The United States National Library of Medicine has documented: “Sensory intensity is when the patient feels a strong but comfortable sensation without motor contraction. High intensity usually involves a motor contraction but is not painful. In general, higher-frequency stimulation is delivered at sensory intensity, and low-frequency stimulation is delivered at motor intensity.”
The more intense version of electrical stimulation is not always available with smaller, wireless models, but this does not curb their ability to manage pain, and provide similar feelings of comfort.
If you are interested in trying transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for yourself, you can do so by speaking to your doctor about TENS as a possible treatment for your pain. By opting for TENS, patients are sometimes able to forego medicinal remedies in the form of drugs. Pain killers can be very useful, but are also known as highly addictive substance, with many within the United States suffering from addiction to them. This makes TENS a more attractive option if it is compatible with the patient and his or her symptoms.
Once you have been prescribed with a TENS your doctor will help you obtain one. You may need to purchase your own through a medical supply store, or even online. Some TENS require a prescription from a medical professional, while smaller and less intense models may not require any documentation at all.