TENS machines for back pain treatment
TENS for back pain relief
TENS for back pain? - tens machines - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators - are used to deliver electrical impulses across the skin. They are small - usually no larger than a personal stereo - and designed for personal use rather than by a health care professional. The units are usually battery powered.
The therapy is thought to work by exciting certain nerve fibres, causing them to block off pain signals to the brain and also by stimulating endorphins which are naturally produced pain-relieving hormones
The device is connected by wires to adhesive electrodes, which are placed on the skin in the pain area. These allow the TENS machine to pass a small, low-intensity electric charge across the skin's surface.
Interestingly, there is nothing new about using electricity to relieve pain. Wicipedia reports its use in ancient Greece, 63 A.D. when Scribonius Largus wrote that pain was relieved by standing on an electrical fish at the seashore! There was also some use of electrostatic devices from the 16th. century onwards and the first modern TENS machine was patented in 1974. There is also a form of electrical acupuncture which is claimed to be effective.
The TENS technique for pain relief is widespread across the world, particularly for back pain in pregnancy and labour. It is also widely used for period pain and for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Treatment takes 15 - 20 minutes several times a day. The actual equipment is inexpensive - from £15.00 upwards and in general, the technique is claimed to be safe. That said, the tens electrodes should not be used
Anyone with epilepsy or a history of heart disease, pregnant women or anyone fitted with a pacemaker should seek advice from their GP before using a TENS machine.
I should say that I have no personal knowledge of using TENS for back pain relief. While researching this article I was struck by the somewhat empirical nature of the claims made for it and the lack of serious long term research with little actual evidence of a proven analgesic effect. Like so many things to do with back pain and pain relief, it may work for some people but not for others.
That said, the TENS equipment is inexpensive, it is generally considered safe and produces no known side effects. It is also easy to combine it with other treatments and that may be the most effective way to use TENS for back pain - in conjunction with other pain relief therapy rather than as a stand-alone treatment.
Microcurrentsystems.com Microcurrent Systems, manufacture and supply micro current equipment and software. Using nano technology to help those in pain and as a painless alternative to surgical cometics
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