If you are suffering from chronic pain, inflammatory conditions or muscle spasms, you might consider using a TENS unit at home or work. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) involves the use of low-voltage electric currents to treat pain. The electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain. During the stimulation, they may also produce natural body chemicals – endorphins -- which are the body’s natural painkillers. This helps relieve pain and promotes a feeling of well-being. However, before you attach the pads directly to your skin, there are a few things you should know.
Can TENS Units Be Used by Everybody?
We put safety first. Studies have shown that TENS therapy is a safe and effective way to relieve pain. However, it is not recommended for people who are currently using a pacemaker. People with epileptic conditions or a bleeding disorder are also advised against using TENS units. Also, TENS electrode pads cannot be placed on open wounds or sores.
For pregnant women and children, it is very important to consult with a physician before using a TENS unit.
To summarize, if you have preexisting medical conditions -- or are concerned about using a TENS unit -- it is recommended to get professional medical advice from your doctor. They will check your medical history and any preexisting conditions to determine if you are OK to use TENS therapy.
Some Safety Tips
Read the Manual and Start Small
Read the manual before using the TENS unit. Not all TENS machines work the same. You must follow the instructions that come with your particular unit. There are reports of people getting shocked using the unit the first time and on the maximum setting. Always start with the lowest setting and increase gradually.
Do Not Use A TENS Unit When Wet
Never use the tens in the shower, near water, or when your skin is wet. Water and electricity do not mix. It may result in unpleasant electric shocks, or even death.
Avoid Open Wounds and Muscle Pain
As mentioned before, TENS unit pads cannot be placed on -- or too close to -- open wounds or damaged skin. The wound can become further irritated and may also take longer to heal. If you feel muscle pain while using TENS, you may have the intensity set too high. Try a lower setting or take a break from your TENS unit for a while.