Chronic pain is a commonly reported symptom. Chronic pain can be found throughout the neck and back, as well as the various extremities such as the feet, knees, and shoulders. Even though many people find relief through musculoskeletal therapies such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, and physical therapy, some individuals do not respond to these therapies, or they may not have the time/finances in order to pursue treatment. One potential at solution to address chronic pain through a home therapy device can be found through a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Unit. 

A TENS unit is a device that emits a low voltage electric current to relieve pain. These devices are generally small enough to fit into a pocket and has wires that connect to 2 or 4 pads (electrodes) that are used to transmit the electrical stimulation. These pads are placed on the skin around the muscle(s) that are causing the pain, and have been shown to be effective in reducing nerve related pain patterns in both acute (recent) and chronic (long term) pain patterns. The basic premise for how these units work is that the electrical stimulation across the surface of the skin, and along nerve endings. This stimulation helps your brain to reduce the pain sensation by creating endorphins, or your body’s natural pain killers.

TENS Unit for Pain Relief
TENS Unit By Yeza – Own work, GFDL,

How to use TENS units

Generally speaking, TENS units are safe to use when used as directed. In our office, we dedicate time to demonstrate the proper use and placement for the TENS unit. Additionally, the device is preset for optimal use in order to reduce the potential for user error.

  • TENS units should only be used for the purposes instructed by the doctor. Should the condition of the pain change for the better or worse, the doctor should be informed.
  • The electrodes should not be left on for long periods of time. The pads and skin should be cleaned on a regular basis. Do NOT clean the pads with alcohol, this will destroy the adhesive.
  • Should a rash appear underneath the electrodes that lasts for more than 6 hours, stop and clean the pads and skin. Inform the doctor of the changes.
  • Do NOT place the electrodes on irritated or broken skin.
  • Do NOT use a TENS unit while driving.
  • Do NOT use one while taking a shower or bath.
  • Do NOT use a TENS unit if sleeping longer than 1 hour.
  • ONLY use a TENS unit combined with a heating pad or ice pack if instructed by a medical provider.

At Synergy Chiropractic of Houston, we supply our patients with TENS units as needed to help them get as much relieve as possible as swiftly as possible. In most situations, insurance companies cover the rental or purchase price with no out of pocket expense for the patient. Replacement electrode pads can be supplied when needed as well.

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