Services – TENS Machine Pain Relief & Rehabilitation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a common treatment modality used by practitioners including Chiropractors and Physiotherapist’s to assist with reducing an individuals current pain level or facilitating muscle rehabilitation via re-education. A TENS machine is an electronic device that uses specifically placed surface electrode pads on the users skin. These pads are connected to the TENS machine via cords. The user or treating therapist can manipulate various settings to elicit a desired treatment effect and deliver a pulsed electrical stimulus which penetrates the skin to stimulate the sensory (sensation) and/or motor (muscle) nerves. By stimulating these nerves a TENS machine can help reduce or eliminate pain by interrupting the signals which are sent to the brain and interpreted as pain.
How Does Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Work?
Once the electrode surface pads have been appropriately positioned and the desired settings have been selected the user will note a strange sensation which is often described as “buzzing” “tingling” or “pins and needles” in the specific area. The user or practitioner can amplify this sensation depending upon the frequency and intensity used. By increasing the stimulus, the client will note an involuntary type of muscle contraction which can assist with muscle re-education and therefore rehabilitation from specific muscular and soft tissue conditions. While this is the case, TENS machines are without doubt most commonly used in cases of chronic pain relief. It is recognized that TENS machines work in two manners:
- Sensory level stimulation: As discussed, the gate control theory of pain development means that the electrical stimulus provided by the TENS machine interferes with the “neural gate” which pain messages travel to and from the brain though
- Motor level stimulation: Practitioners will most commonly utilize motor level stimulation settings to assist with muscle re-education or improving muscle activation patterns
Who Should Consider Using A TENS Machine?
Given the many applications of TENS machines it’s no wonder that the treatment modality is used for managing a wide variety of clinical conditions. TENS machines are commonly used in the treatment of conditions such as (but not limited to):
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder dysfunction such as Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
- Headaches & Migraines
- Generalized and chronic nerve pain
- Extremity problems involving the hip, knee, ankle, elbow, wrist and hands
- Pregnancy related pain – particularly during labor
- Rehabilitation that requires muscle re-education
Are TENS Machines Appropriate For Everyone?
There are a variety of contraindications to using a TENS machine which are included below:
- Individuals who have a pacemaker
- Individuals who have known allergic reactions to particular tapes, gels or electrodes
- Individuals who have open cuts or wounds
- Individuals who suffer from known skin allergies such as eczema and psoriasis
- Individuals should not place the TENS machine electrodes over epiphyseal growth regions in children