A TENS machine is an alternative therapy that a lot of people use to deal with minor pain. And it might help with your fibromyalgia pain as well.
What Is A TENS Unit?
TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.” And essentially, a TENS unit is a machine that sends electrical currents across the skin in order to stimulate the nerves. The idea behind TENS is that the electricity traveling through the nerves blocks out pain signals and so TENS units are used to help treat minor pain.
Often, TENS machines are used by people suffering from painful conditions that affect the joints and muscles like arthritis. And athletes and professional sports therapists make frequent use of TENS machines to deal with injuries and strained muscles.
But many TENS units are small and portable, so you can use them at home.You use a TENS machine by placing small pads directly on the affected area. A light current of electricity flows through the pad and across the skin. Typically, it’s used on the muscles, but many people also attach the pads to their temples and use the TENS unit to treat headaches.
Does It Work For Fibromyalgia?
The idea that electrical stimulation can help block out pain is an interesting one, and a lot of people swear by it as an effective therapy. But as far as actual research goes, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence that supports TENS therapy. The best answer to whether or not it’s effective for pain relief is that it might work for some people.
Research has shown that it is effective for some people, but that a lot of people don’t seem to benefit from it. Its effectiveness seems to vary widely based on the amount of electric current being used, the condition being treated, and the patient. So TENS works for some people, but the advantages are largely temporary.
And some have speculated that the effectiveness may not actually be because of the therapy, but rather the placebo effect. Someone strapping a TENS machine to their skin and feeling the electric current believes that the therapy will be effective and so they feel better.
With that being said, there’s really no risk to using TENS, and a lot of people believe it helps their pain. So, it might be worth a shot.
Where Can You Get One?
It’s best to consult a doctor before trying any sort of physical therapy. They may be able to give you advice on whether or not TENS therapy would be effective for you. In addition, many physical therapists and pain clinics will have one on location and you’ll be able to try it yourself and make your own decision.
If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, there are plenty of places online where you can buy a TENS machine. Many cost less than $100. It’s best to make sure you’re getting a good one, but simply because one is more expensive doesn’t mean that it is better. Carefully read reviews on any unit before buying.
They come in a variety of sizes, but almost all are battery powered and portable. The advantage of a smaller unit is that many can be clipped directly onto a belt. That means you can attach the pads to your skin under your clothes and use the machine throughout the day. Because the relief provided by TENS therapy is temporary, being able to turn the machine on regularly is a big advantage when it comes to treating your pain.
TENS therapy is usually very safe. Most units come with an adjustable knob that lets you adjust the voltage gradually. Start at a lower voltage and stop if it becomes painful. But you should also be careful about using the machine if you have any implantable medical devices like a pacemaker. Consult a doctor for advice if you do to make sure it’s safe.
But what about you? Have you used a TENS unit before? Did it work? Feel free to share your experience in the comments.