First, you might ask, what is TENS? TENS is much easier to say than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation so they shortened it to the acronym TENS. What does that mean to you? It essentially is a device that sends an electrical charge through electrodes that are placed on your skin and then stimulate your nerves and muscles attached to those nerves to ease pain.
We had these devices when I was playing college football to help rehabilitate after injury so when I saw one of these devices for home use, I jumped all over it. You can find a wide variety of these on the market and I have tried several of them. The different TENS devices offer different displays, controls, and standard equipment but don’t let that confuse you. The point of a TENS device is to provide the stimulation that your nerves and muscles need.
Nearly 30 years ago when I was using them in the training room at my university, you had to make sure the electrodes were wet so the electricity would transfer properly through the skin but as with all things associated with technology, the newer devices have a gel type of electrode that automatically adheres to your skin and also conducts the electricity properly to your nerves and muscles.
I don’t use my TENS device all the time but I would say I use it on a regular basis. For me it is more effective for the type of pain I have when the pain gets more severe so the better I have become at managing my pain, the less I have had to use my TENS device.
The new devices are VERY compact and so you can take it with you anywhere although it might get a second look from the TSA agent at the airport. The wires and electrodes are detachable and you can get replacements for most standard devices so you don’t worry about having to buy a complete new device when your electrodes are worn but I’m still on the first two sets I got with the unit when I bought it two years ago. The device is also rechargeable through a USB port so I am able to use the same power sources I use for many of my other devices.
So how effective can a TENS device be? One clue is that I only use it when my pain gets more severe. You get immediate pain relief when you use one of these and although it might not eliminate the pain completely, you can put quite a muzzle on the pain simply by using the device for 30 minutes. I have used them for longer periods of time but I have quite a bit of experience using them so I wouldn’t use them more than the product or your doctor recommends to you.
These are highly effective and if you have never used one, you can find cheap machines to test and then if it works well for you, upgrade to one of the better units with better features and quality in the future when your test unit wears out.
#10 in a series of Personal Pain Management. For prior articles: