A tens unit is a pain relief unit that you can use to change the way that your body perceive pain. Called a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit, it has electrodes attached to sticky pads that are placed on the skin.
When turned on, the TENS sends electrical impulses to stimulate your nerves to change the way that they transmit pain. Thus, if you have chronic pain, TENS units can help you in a big way.
This unit is used to relieve period pain, neck pain, post-surgery pain, labor pain, spinal cord injuries, knee pain, muscle pain, multiple sclerosis pains, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other types of pains.
Physical Features Of A TENS Unit
To understand how this unit helps you relief pain, you must understand its physical aspects. First, it is a battery-powered device, it is small in size, enough to fit in your palm. It is also ergonomic in design so you can hold it for a long time without cramping your wrists.
On the TENS unit, you will see a few knobs for various types of control. For example, you can control the amount of pain that you feel by adjusting the level of electrical stimulation that you feel. For example, if you want to relief acute pain, you can use the high frequency settings (usually 80 to 120 cycles in a second). If you want to manage chronic pain, you can use the low frequency settings (usually 1 to 20 cycles in a second).
How A TENS Unit Works
While a TENS unit is a fast pain relief option, that is not the only good thing with it. When you use it, you will also be stimulating your body to produce the feel-good hormones, also called endorphins, so that with time, the body may be able to manage pain on its own.
However, before you get to that, the TENS unit works by stimulating the nervous system to lower the amount of pain sensed by the nerves.
You will notice that the unit has electrodes that are attached to sticky pads. You are supposed to stick these pads in the area that is experiencing pain. You can then turn on the unit, and select the preferred, or the advised frequency.
Every unit comes with a user manual. It is very important that you heed the instructions. The instructions will tell you how you should place the electrodes. You also need to know the different frequency modes that it comes with.
Some units give a tingling sensation, some a buzzing one and yet others have an on and off mode. While many of the TENS unit have the same modes, it is good to understand how individual units work. Do not assume that the new unit works the same as the last one that you had.
In the user manual, you will also see instructions for how long you should use it. Most of them advise you to run it for about 15 minutes if this is your first time. Then, you can gradually build the time to a maximum of 30 minutes but in most cases, you should never exceed that.
How To Position The Pads
First, do not switch on the TENS unit when or before placing the pads. Secondly, you are supposed to position the pads at the side of the area where you are feeling pain. Stick two pads at an interval of 2.5 inches. However, please note that you should not place the pads at the sides or front of your neck, on your eyes, your temples, on injured/broken/chapped skin or on your mouth. You should not place the sticky pads on the upper back and on your chest at the same time.
Once the pads are attached to the areas where you are feeling pain, switch on the TENS unit. Start on low frequency and keep on increasing it gradually, until you feel a strong but comfortable sensation. If you start feeling uncomfortable, just reduce the frequency slightly. Do not switch on the TENS and fall asleep. You need to monitor it actively.