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April 03, 2020

Tens Unit is Eligible for HSA and FSA

What Is A TENS Unit And Does It Work?

A TENS unit is a small machine that works by sending low voltage electrical impulses to a targeted body part of the patient. These impulses induce the body into producing endorphins which are the hormones generated by our body to relieve pain. The machine also helps the body to release other materials that stop the pain signals from reaching the nervous system of the patient. The impulses are transferred in the body through electrodes. These electrodes have small sticky pads that we attach to the patient’s targeted body part during the treatment and the unit is powered by a small battery. There is a variety of TENS machines available in the market depending on the features and capabilities of the device. Some units are designed to be used in hospitals while some are also designed for personal use.

A lot of research work is done on whether this electronic stimulation technique works for relieving pain or not. The research provides some pieces of evidence that this technique helps to reduce pain but a lot of the study work provided inconclusive results due to weak data. But we can still say that this technique is useful for relieving pain in many cases. Below we will discuss some of the aspects of using a TENS device.

Benefits of TENS unit:

This device is useful in many ways for relieving pain some of which we will be discussing below.

  1. Decrease of pain:

This device has proved to be a useful method for reducing pain. The low voltage electrical signals produced by the machine induces the nervous system of the patient to decrease its ability to transmit pain signals to the brain which results in reduced pain. These signals also stimulate the brain to release painkiller hormones called endorphins. These hormones move towards the targeted body part to relieve pain. If you want the best results, use this device while doing activities that involve the movement of your body muscles and use this device for at least half an hour while being active. The device is found to be less efficient when you are at the state of rest. You can use this device to relieve various types of long-term pains.

  1. Drug-free:

Pharmacologists have discovered various life-threatening adverse effects linked to using various pharmacological pain-relieving medications. These medications may sometimes have a long-lasting adverse effect on your health. Therefore, a lot of patients suffering from chronic pain diseases which results in prolonged discomfort tries to rely on drug-free methods to relieve pain. These patients are always searching for a non-pharmacological alternative to reduce pain. Electrotherapy techniques such as using a TENS device can help these patients to relieve pain without having to use a pharmacological drug. There are even some patients who are suffering from various health conditions and face circumstances in which they cannot use a specific pain killer drug due to their other health conditions. Using a TENS unit will be helpful for these patients under those circumstances. If you are looking for a way to avoid pharmacological drugs, then TENS is the best drug-free method to relieve pain.

  1. Use at home:

If you are a person who doesn’t want to travel to clinics or hospitals for TENS treatment. Don’t worry, you can do this treatment at home by yourself. The device is user-friendly and you can use the device by following simple instructions. Make sure the area you are going to attach the adhesive pads of this device is clean and dry and attach the pads. You can alter the intensity of treatment by using the dial built on the device. The TENS treatment is a very useful pain-relieving method for those patients who cannot travel due to their critical health conditions. Some units are portable and can be used discreetly. You can use this device while at home or your workplace without anyone from knowing that you are going through a pain-relieving treatment. But remember not to use this device while taking a bath, sleeping, driving, or using machinery as these activities may cause the device to work improperly. This method has proven to be a treatment option that you can use in the comfortable environment of your house.

  1. Affordable:

Buying expensive pharmacological pain-relieving medications might be sometimes very expensive. If you are looking for cheaper treatment, you can always go for a TENS device. Investing in this device can save you bucks which you will surely spend on buying medications to relieve pain. This is a one-time expenditure and you will surely not have to spend money on another device if you a good quality durable unit from some reputed distributor. The price of these units varies based on the capabilities, features and performance of the device. A TENS unit may cost you $20 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the specification and quality of the unit. However, if you want a TENS unit for personal use, you can get good quality unit ranging from $100 to $400.

  1. Easy to use:

The device is very easy to use and you can use this machine by yourself to relieve pain. The device can be personally controlled by the patient without having to visit a therapist or any other health official. But it is always recommended to use the unit when your therapist advises you to do so. There may also be certain conditions in which you will have to use the device by yourself such as using a TENS unit at your home or workplace may be a part of your overall treatment plan produced by your therapist. You can use the device by following the instructions provided on the user manual of the unit or your therapist may instruct you to use the device in a specific way according to your health condition. We can surely say that if you are able enough to operate a smartphone, you will face no difficulties in operating a TENS unit.

  1. Good for daily use:

Some patients are suffering from chronic or acute pain and need to take painkillers daily. Taking these medications may sometimes be discomforting for the patient and he/she might want a drug-free alternative. Good news, you can use a TENS unit daily without any side effects. Remember if you use the unit on the same frequency and intensity for a long time, you may develop tolerance against the said treatment and then you will no longer experience the same pain relief which you felt while using the device for the first time. If you use a TENS unit daily, you can switch between HF and LF within a treatment session to avoid developing tolerance against TENS treatment.

  1. Reduce inflammation:

A study provided on pro-inflammatory cytokines showed that using a TENS unit for relieving pain also reduced inflammation. The research work is limited but therapists have found it to be an effective way of reducing inflammation. The researchers are not still sure how a TENS unit manages to reduce inflammation after all this researches. But we can surely say that you can use a TENS unit to help you in this aspect.

Uses of TENS unit:

Using a TENS unit can you relieve pain under various health conditions such as pain in different body parts or other health conditions in which you suffer from chronic or acute pain. We will be discussing several health conditions in which you can use a TENS unit to relieve pain.

  1. Sciatica:

You can reduce the pain by using a TENS unit if you are suffering from sciatica pain. Using a TENS unit for relieving this chronic pain health condition has shown some impressive results. The signals produced by this small device relieves sciatica pain by blocking or interrupting the nerve induced signals that are causing you the said pain. Sciatica nerve is the longest and largest nerve in a human’s body and sciatica pain may be numbness initially but the conditions get worse over time. The pain usually starts from the buttock and spreads downwards until the patient feels the pain even in the toes and then it might start spreading upwards causing chronic pain in the lower back of the patient. TENS unit being able to help relieve this pain can make you imagine how useful this device is.

  1. Menstrual cramps:

Menstrual cramps can also be relieved by using a TENS treatment. Previously women used pain killer pharmacological drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen etcetera to counter the severe pain caused by menstruation. But these drugs often have certain allergic reactions and women nowadays use TENS units to help relieve this pain. This treatment is ideal for painful menstruation as it is a drug-free and non-invasive solution. You can place the sticky pads of this device on the back or near the targeted area. The device uses soothing and relaxing electrical signals which flood through your skin. As a result, your brain is induced into releasing endorphins and encephalins which reduces your pain in the targeted area. The mechanism helps to relieve painful menstrual cramps by reducing the brain’s ability to receive pain signals instead of having a direct impact on the uterine contractions.

  1. Plantar fasciitis:

The low-frequency electronic currents produced by a TENS unit induces the plantar fascia which results in improved blood flow and it also blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain. This method is also cheap as compared to other expensive surgeries which are riskier than using the said technique. The pads are attached to the patient’s feet to help relieve the pain. The unit also induces the feet and legs muscles to contract and release in a uniform manner improving the blood flow. There are also pieces of evidence available that this method helps reduce the inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis. One must keep in mind that using a TENS unit only relieves the pain and is not a permanent cure to plantar fasciitis. Some TENS unit also comes as pair of shoes in which you can slip your feet to have a comfortable pain-reduction treatment.

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome:

A condition which can cause severe pain and tingle in your hand or arm is what we call a carpal tunnel syndrome. It is caused by any condition in which the area inside your wrist is swelled. Using a TENS unit in this condition has been proven to relieve the pain associated with this syndrome. The device reduces the swelling inside the patient’s wrist and helps to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist and hand exercise are also important during this condition to get back the mobility of your hand and fingers.

  1. Tendonitis:

A condition caused by the inflammation or irritation in a tendon is called tendonitis. The pain is severe in this health condition and the patient feels it difficult to move the affected joint. The health condition develops often in shoulder, knee, or arm joints but it can also develop on any other joint of the human body. Taking medications as prescribed by your doctor, wrapping a bandage around the affected area, or stretching the affected joint to improve the mobility are some cures to tendonitis. But you can also use a TENS unit to relieve the severe pain caused by this condition. In a study conducted using MEDLINE, Lilacs and Scielo databases showed that the TENS unit was found affective in tendon repair. Such impacts of this device are may be due to its ability to stimulate the body into releasing substances that improve blood flow in the targeted body area.

  1. Period pain:

For some women, period pain might not be a problem and does not interfere with their daily routine. But for some, the monthly period may be the most painful and problematic time of the month which may even cause disabling in some cases. The severe pain and inconvenience may have a drastic impact on the daily routine of these women. It is often felt as muscle cramps in women’s lower belly which are painful. The pain can be reduced inseveral ways but using a TENS unit is one of the easiest treatments for this pain. This method is a non-evasive and ideal treatment for period pain. The electrode pads are attached near the affected area and the person feels soothing impulses that help to reduce the pain. If your monthly period is the most painful time of your month, you must give it a try but of course after consulting your physician.

  1. Labor pain:

TENS treatment for reducing labor pain has been used by women since the 1970s. The pads are applied often to the lower back of women while using the TENS unit to relieve labor pain but in some cases, the pads are also attached to cranium or acupuncture points. Studies showed that this treatment is effective for reducing labor but researchers are not sure yet whether it is because this device actually relieves labor pain efficiently or it is due to the averted focus of women on the women while using the unit themselves. It also boosts their sense of control duringlabor.

  1. Joint pain:

A TENS unit can also help you relieve discomfort and soreness in your body’s joints. Studies have shown that this treatment is an effective way to relieve the pain in your joints caused by some injury which had an impact on areas surrounding the affected joint of your body. You need to apply the electrode pads on the area near to the affected joint or the affected joint and set the intensity of the device according to your needs. You will feel a sensation of pain relief within a session of 20 to 30 minutes without having to use pain killer medications. This method is surely an easy and drug-free way to reduce joint pain.

  1. Neck and back pain:

A lot of people suffering from neck and back pain issues wonder if it would be a good idea to use TENS treatment. The answer is yes. The said treatment has been found effective in reducing neck and back pain. But always remember to take precautionary measures while using this device for reducing neck pain. Never place the electrodes close to your head or on the sides of your neck area as the device produces electrical signals for treatment purposes. While using the TENS unit to relieve neck pain, apply the adhesive pads to the lower backside of your pain and you will feel the soothing sensations within some time.

  1. Postoperative pain:

After surgery, your surgeons and nurses try their best to reduce your postoperative pain. A combined approach to pain management is a better option under these circumstances. TENS has proved to be an efficient way to reduce pain in this aspect. There are many pieces of evidence available to support the fact that TENS has been effective in reducing the postoperative pain but the evidence that the device was solely efficient for reducing the acute pain is insufficient.

  1. Headaches and migraines:

A clinical study provided in the Journal of Headache and Pain shows that 81% of the people suffering from migraines felt relief in their pain after using a TENS unit. So it is obvious from this research that using a TENS unit is an effective drug-free method to relieve headaches and migraines.People suffering from daily migraines might feel it discomforting to have a dose of painkilling pharmacological drugs daily, using a TENS unit might help these types of sufferers. Remember to attach the pads at the base of your head to help reduce the duration of headaches.

  1. Nerve pain:

Some studies have shown that using a TENS treatment for neuropathic pain was to some extent effective but according to researchers, more research is still needed on this aspect. The patients can give this method a try if they need a drug-free treatment. But you must always go for this treatment after consulting with your doctor.

  1. Fibromyalgia:

A study was done on 28 fibromyalgia patients who used a TENS unit to reduce the pain. The results were fascinating showing reduced pain, anxiety and muscle stiffness improving the ability of fibromyalgia patients to work. It is suggested to use two TENS units at the same time for better results. According to the above study, we can surely say that TENS treatment is effective in fibromyalgia cases but there is a need for strong evidence to prove that this method is consistent for relieving pain in patients with the said health condition.

  1. Arthritis:

Using TENS therapy for controlling arthritis pain can be effective. You can treat your arthritis pain with the help of a TENS unit without having to use additional drugs and medications which can sometimes be discomforting for the patient or might be expensive. TENS therapy will be effective if your pain is confined to a single region as you will only need one device for the therapy sessions.Half of the patients using TENS therapy experienced a 50% reduced arthritis pain, a 2015 Cochrane review says.

  1. Tennis Elbow:

Tennis elbow, one of the most painful and discomforting situations for the elbow includes the inflammation and occurring of pain around the elbow where muscles and tendons connect to the bone. Some therapists apply ice and refer to use TENS treatment to reduce the pain caused by tennis elbow. This therapy decreases pain and helps the tendons to heal quickly. The therapy is non-addictive and comes with no side effects making it a better solution for tennis elbow.

  1. Spinal cord injury:

A study was performed on SCI patients in which there were two groups-those who used TENS therapy and those who did not use this technique. The study showed that pain was affectively relieved in the case of those patients using a TENS unit as compared to the other group. So, we say that using a TENS unit while treating SCI patients can be beneficial.

 TENS Unit Safety

 Safety comes first while introducing a person to TENS therapy. There are no or little known side effects of a TENS unit but it may cause mild problems due to improper use of the technology.However, there are certain circumstances in which a person should not use a TENS or consult a doctor before using this treatment. We will be discussing some of these situations below.

When to avoid TENS / Consult a doctor:

The following are some health conditions in which using a TENS unit might be dangerous and you need to consult your physician before having a TENS treatment under those circumstances.

  1. Pregnant women:

A pregnant woman might be going through a painful condition and plans to use a TENS unit for pain relief. While studies show that using a TENS unit during pregnancy is safe but if you apply the pads to the pelvic or abdominal region of your body, it will have drastic impacts. If you apply TENS over acupuncture points during pregnancy, it will increase uterine contractions and may lead to premature labor. It is strongly recommended never to use this device on the said areas of your body during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before going for a TENS therapy during pregnancy to avoid any of the possible adverse effects of this therapy during pregnancy. The stimulation may cause unwanted uterine contractions if the pads are applied to the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

  1. Cancer:

Patients suffering from cancer need to go through severe painful treatments often leading to chronic pain conditions. The patients are always in search of a way to reduce the pain and using a TENS unit may seem to be an option but it is highly recommended not to be used by cancer patients.  Applying the adhesive pads of this device near to the site of cancer have adverse impacts on the health condition of cancer patients. Researchers suggest that a person with undiagnosed cancer or a person with a history of cancer in the last five years must avoid using a TENS unit to avoid the possible side effects.

  1. Diabetes:

People suffering from diabetes must avoid using a TENS unit for relieving pain as the electrical signal may damage the sensitive skin of these patients. It is recommended that you consult your physician before using TENS if you are a diabetic patient. Try to use other methods for relieving pain. You can use medically prescribed painkilling pharmacological drugs to relieve pain or having a massage is also an option. There are also reported cases of diabetic patients suffering from skin irritation or rashes after using a TENS unit.

  1. Cognitive impairment:

A condition in which a person feels difficulty in remembering something, or while learning new things, or cannot make proper decisions affecting his/her daily life is cognitive impairment. According to researchers, a person with cognitive impairment should avoid going for TENS therapy as it may make cognitive impairment worse than before.But if you still want to use a TENS treatment instead of going for other medications, you must be able to perceive a safe intensity and frequency for yourself. It is recommended to use the TENS unit for patients with cognitive impairment after consulting a therapist. These patients can always go for physical therapy instead of a TENS therapy to avoid its possible adverse impacts on their health condition.

  1. Epilepsy:

One must be careful while giving TENS to a patient suffering from epilepsy. The practitioner must be cautious and does not place the electrode pads on the neck or head of the patient with epilepsy as it will negatively affect the patient. There are reported cases in which giving TENS to epilepsy patients stimulated seizures. So, it is obvious that TENS should not be used on patients with epilepsy or if the therapy is necessary for these patients, it must be used with care in these epilepsy patients.

Do not use tens unit if you have:

Now we will discuss some of the situations in which it is recommended not to use TENS therapy at all. Using TENS therapy in these health conditions may lead to long-lasting adverse health situations. Do not use TENS therapy for relieving pain if you have.

  1. A cardiac pacemaker:

A person with a cardiac pacemaker is not suggested to use TENS as it has been recorded that a TENS unit interferes with the functioning of a cardiac pacemaker. TENS manufacturers refer it to be a contraindication for patients with pacemakers. Some therapists may apply the TENS unit away from the chest area to those patients with pacemakers but it is highly recommended to do the process after consulting the patient’s cardiologist. The electrical signals interfere with the functioning of the patient’s pacemaker leading to a situation in which the pacemaker’s sensitivity needs to be reprogrammed.

  1. Spinal cord stimulator:

A spinal cord stimulator works by sending electrical impulses and the TENS unit also uses the same technique. A person having a spinal cord stimulator should not opt for a TENS therapy as the electrical impulses generated by both the devices may interfere with each other causing the spinal cord stimulator to dysfunction. Most of the physicians suggest never to use a TENS device near to the area where a spinal cord stimulator is implanted.

  1. In-dwelling pumps or monitor:

If you have any in-dwelling pumps or monitor, you should avoid using TENS and consult your doctor for alternative ways to relieve pain. It is obvious that TENS is a drug-free and one of the ideal techniques for relieving pain but it can harm patients with in-dwelling pumps or monitor due to its electrical signals producing nature. You can consult your physician for more directions in this aspect.

  1. Any implanted metallic or electronic device:

Some patients need to get metallic or electronic devices implanted in their bodies as a part of their treatment. These patients might want to use TENS therapy for relieving their chronic or acute pain. But the bad news is that this device can have side effects on their implanted metallic or electronic devices. The electrical impulses generated by this machine can reach your metallic implants creating a sensation of shocks and might even cause severe pain instead of relieving the pain. These electrical waves also impact the electronic device and may cause that device to function improperly causing various problems for you. It is recommended that you consult a therapist for an alternate solution.

  1. People with heart disease:

If you are a person suffering from any sort of heart disease, using a TENs unit might be a bad idea for you. The electrical impulses are although mild but can have an impact on the health of patients with heart disease. It is because these patients have a weak heart and a mild shock can often lead to a severe health condition, sometimes even congestive heart failure. So, you should not opt for a TENS unit if you have heart disease and consulting a cardiologist is always an option.

Precautions/Do Not Use TENS On:

A TENS unit may sometimes have adverse effects on your health if you do not use it properly. Many patients using the device without taking the precautionary measures advised by health officials experienced adverse effects of this therapy. So, one must keep in mind that before using this device, consulting your physician is highly recommended. Electrode burn or skin irritation can be caused by inappropriate use of this device. Moreover, some patients are allergic to the sticky pads or gel. Here we will discuss some of the precautionary measures and the parts of the body where you should not apply the electrode pads of this device.

  1. Wounds/Rashes:

Do not attach the sticky pads of a TENS unit on any open wound. If you apply the electrode pads of a TENS unit on any open wound or too close to an open wound, this may further irritate your wound. The electrical signals generated by this device will affect the wound and may take too long to heal. To avoid this, do not use a TENS unit too close to the area of a wound until it is healed completely. The same is the case with rashes. Using a TENS unit on rashes can make the condition more itchy and painful rather than giving comfort. The electrical impulses may also lead to blisters. Most of the health physicians strongly recommend not to use a TENS unit on any open wound or rashes on your skin as it may worsen the condition of your skin.

  1. Swollen, Red,Infected:

Swelling in your skin can worsen if you use a TENS unit to relieve its pain. Whatever may be the cause of swelling, the electrical waves produced by this machine causes the skin to swell more instead of healing the situation. We can say that if you use a TENS unit to relieve the pain caused by swelling on the skin, you are worsening the condition and you will have to suffer more. If a part of your skin has become red due to sunburn or any sort of allergic reaction, avoid applying the TENS device to that area. There is more blood rushing to that area of skin which has become red and the electronic impulses may decrease the capacity of blood to fight irritants which leads to slow healing. You may be suffering from intense pain if you infection on your skin and you might want to use a TENS unit to decrease the intensity of this pain. But remember not to do this as applying a TENS unit to the infected area of your skin will cause the infection to spread even more and rather than decreasing your pain, it will help the pain to become even more intense for you. We highly recommend you not to apply a TENS unit on or near to the part of your skin which is swollen, or that part of your skin is red, or you are suffering from some sort of skin infection.

  1. Inflamed Skin:

Your skin can also be involved in immune responses and sometimes skin inflammation can occur when your skin tries to counter foreign invaders. If you have inflamed skin and you are suffering from pain. Go for pharmacological painkilling medications instead of using a TENS device. The medication will make the healing process faster without side effects if you are taking a dose of drugs prescribed by your doctor. But if you are thinking to apply the TENS electrode pads to your inflamed skin, it may be a bad idea because the low-voltage electrical shocks will damage your skin and might also leave some severe long-lasting impacts.

  1. Head or Face:

Most of the therapists recommend never to use the TENS device near or on your head area. The main reason they provide is the nature of this therapy is treating the patients with the help of electronic impulses. These impulses can severely damage your brain cells. The impacts of brain stimulation are not known and therefore the pads if applied to the head area may cause serious damage. The manufacturers and therapists do not also recommend to apply the pads to the facial area. The therapy can cause facial nerve damage leading to a severe health condition instead of relieving pain. Some patients who suffer from facial pain are also treated by this therapy but after taking the necessary precautionary measures. The intensity and frequency level of the treatment is carefully monitored while doing so. The placement of electrode pads is also a necessary factor and is carefully monitored. But the clear advice on this aspect is never to use the TENS device above the neck area to stay safe.

  1. On throat:

The throat is one of the sensitive areas of your body and throat-related problems are common nowadays. You may have a sore throat, or some viral infection, or any allergies. Croup, cancer and tonsillitis can also cause problems in your throat. Patients suffering from throat pain must consider not to use TENS therapy, instead use medications prescribed by your physician. Applying a TENS unit’s adhesive pads on your throat may lead you to cough problems. The electrical signals may also damage your throat due to its sensitive nature. The contractions within the throat muscles caused by the electrical stimulation of this device may sometimes be firm enough to even block the airway of your throat leading to breathing problems. Be sure to never use this device on any part of your throat to avoid the dangers of the side effects of a TENS unit which it can have on your throat area.

  1. Both sides of the chest:

It is not recommended by experts to apply the electrode pads of your TENS device to both sides of your chest. The results can be very dangerous if you do so. According to researchers, if you apply the TENS electrode pads to both sides of your chest at the same time or near to the heart of the patient, the electrical signals produced by this device will interfere with the heartbeat causing rhythmic disruptions to the heart of the patient.

 

Functions And Features Of A TENS Unit.

These devices are mostly small in size and are powered by a battery. To avoid the side effects of this therapy, you must know how to operate this device in a proper way to get the desired frequency and intensity of the treatment. It is important to know well about the functions and features of a TENS device to operate it properly. Here we will be discussing different features and functions of this small battery-powered machine.

  1. Program and modes:

You can control the intensity and frequency of your treatment therapy by a small dial constructed on a TENS unit. The device comes with the option to change, the strength of electrical impulses being generated by the device, the frequency of the pulses, and the duration of electrical signals being injected in your skin. Most devices provide you to change the current intensity ranging from 0-80 mA but there are some devices that can offer you current intensity up to 100mA. The frequency of the machine is measured in PPS-pulses per second. TENS units can offer you a pulse rate starting from 1pps up to 200 or 250 pulses per second or Hertz. A TENS unit is often suggested to be a clinically proven device if it offers a frequency ranging from 2 pulses per second to 150 pulses per second.

The duration of the electrical pulse offered by this device varies from 40-250 ms (microseconds) and the most effective suggested duration of these electrical impulses is 200ms. The TENS therapy is targeted to sensory nerves which is the reason that we use such small parameters of these programs of the device.

The conventional mode of a TENS unit is often used for 20 minutes to get the desired pain relief. However, if you have been using the conventional mode for a long time, you may develop tolerance against the therapy provided by this machine. You can always switch to Modulation mode to reduce this tolerance effect. If using the device in both of these modes doesn’t provide you with the desired pain relief, you can always choose other modes available. The user can switch between the modes of treatment by using the ‘Mode selector switch’ provided on the device as most of these devices come with preset modes. Before switching to another mode, try adjusting the placement of electrodes of this device. This may also help you to receive the desired amount of pain relief.

  1. Battery:

As a TENS unit is powered through a battery, one must know what type of batteries are used in this device before buying a TENS unit. Most of the TENS units are designed to run on a battery to provide users with convenience and portability. Different types of batteries are used to operate different types of TENS devices. 9v, AA and lithium-ion batteries are the most often used batteries in TENS devices.

If you are using a TENS unit that is powered by 9V batteries, you can upgrade yourself to rechargeable 9V batteries to get more convenience. In this way, you will not have to buy batteries again and again for your TENS device. A convenient thing about AA battery-powered TENS devices is that you can easily access these batteries as there are a lot of common household devices which are powered by AA batteries. If you plan to buy a TENS unit that is lithium-ion battery-powered, you will not have to buy extra batteries as the units come with one battery included and these batteries are rechargeable. But you can always another for a backup plan. You can choose a TENS unit powered on any of these discussed batteries depending on your needs. Be sure to replace or recharge the batteries of your TENS device when the light indicating low power flashes on the screen of your device.

  1. Intensity levels:

The intensity level of a TENS unit refers to the intensity of low-voltage electrical shocks pumped into the skin of the patient by this device. We measure the intensity level of this device in the unit ‘mA’. TENS units available in the market come with intensity levels ranging from 0-80mA. If you want to experience an efficient therapy, be sure to take a start from the lowest intensity level possible and increase the level gradually. This will provide you with the best pain relief possible by this device. You can change the intensity by using the device’s small intensity controlling dial.

  1. Electrode Placement:

Electrodes are the sticky pads that are attached to the patient’s targeted body area while giving the TENS therapy. They can be reused but you should replace the pad if the stick has worn off as it would not properly after that. There are electrode gels available in the market which helps the pads to stay sticky. To experience the best pain relief, it is recommended to place the electrode pads near the targeted area where the patient is feeling painful sensations. A placement guide is often available in the TENS unit packaging that illustrates where to place the pad for a respective injury or pain. But it is recommended that you consult your therapist in this aspect to achieve the best treatment. Apply a thin coating of the gel beneath the pads and make sure the targeted skin area is dry and clean and then press the pads firmly on the skin area. By doing this, your TENS unit will be able to transmit the electrical impulses efficiently in your skin. After the treatment, remember to wash the treated skin area thoroughly with some good quality soap and then dry off the skin well to avoid any allergic reaction or stickiness of the gel. If the skin area you are going to apply the electrode pads contain excess hair, clip them off with scissors but remember not to shave it. Avoid stretching the pads and apply the pads starting from the center to outward in all directions. Start pulling the pads in hair growth direction while removing them to avoid any irritation.

  1. EMS unit:

You might be wondering how a TENS unit differs from an EMS unit. Both therapies work on the same principle of transmitting low-voltage electronic signals to induce nerves but they are used in different ways. The TENS unit induces the sensory nerve endings to block the pain signals from reaching the nervous system while the other therapy being discussed contracts the muscles. While the TENS therapy is used to relieve various types of painful conditions, we use the EMS therapy to tone, strengthen and relax the muscles. EMS also increases the blood circulation of the body. TENS and EMS devices are two different machines and if you want assistance in building your muscles, you might go for an EMS device. While buying a TENS unit will help you to relieve chronic pains.

But what if you want a combination of both these devices. Good news, a number of devices are available in the market which acts as a combination of both- TENS and EMS unit. These devices are a little expensive but offer you versatility.

  1. Warranties:

A TENS unit can work perfectly for years if you handle the device with and properly store it after using it. Different manufacturers provide different warranty offers for their products. Some companies may offer you a lifetime warranty for their TENS device while there are companies that offer 1 year or a 6-month replacement warranty for their TENS units. You can choose a good quality TENS unit which comes with a better warranty offer from the market according to your needs.

  1. Accessories:

Some TENS units available in the market come by themselves only. But you can find those units too which come with other accessories. You might get a carrying case that will enable you to carry your device with you in a convenient way. Some manufacturers give additional electrode pads with their units so the customers can use these additional pads when the stick of the old pad is worn off. You may also receive specialized equipment with your TENS unit. Belt clips are also given with some of these units. The price of the product may vary depending on the accessories provided with the unit, choose the unit which suits you the most.

  1. Easy to use:

The device is so easy to use that almost anyone can operate the device after going through the user manual. But it is always recommended to operate the device on the intensity and frequency suggested by your doctor. The unit comes with two control knobs. You can change the intensity of pulses with one knob and alter the frequency with the other knob. Always remember to reset the control knob to the off position before you start the therapy. After applying the electrode on the targeted skin area, hook the pin connectors to these electrode pads and plug the wires into the device. Now you can start your TENS therapy by adjusting the frequency and intensity by the control knobs of this device. Anyone can operate this device in this generation of smartphone devices as everybody is familiar with technology in this era.

  1. Wireless:

Some manufacturers offer TENS units that come with wireless electrode pads. Having no wires, you don’t need to connect the pads to the device. You only have to place the pads properly on your skin and start the therapy session. This will also keep from worrying about the tugged wires on or in the way. The wireless devices are convenient to use and highly portable that can easily be carried in your pockets. If you want added convenience, buy a wireless TENS unit. Another benefit of these wireless TENS units is that they are discreet and can be worn under clothes.

  1. Screen:

A TENS unit often comes with a built-in LCD screen. You can view the plan that you selected for your therapy on this screen as well as the intensity and frequency set for your therapy. The screen also displays the procedure which you have chosen for the therapy session. A section of the display also shows the time left for the therapy session.


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