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Author Topic: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?  (Read 11952 times)

mouser

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I know there are a few people who frequent DonationCoder who have back and other pain problems.. Saw this today that i thought might be interesting.  Anyone have any experience with similar devices?

Quote
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation, and that’s basically what the device does. It uses a set of electrodes attached to the skin that deliver up to 60 milliamps of current into the nerves where the pain occurs. This jolt serves to disrupt the pain signals coming from those nerves, and instead of hurting, the area ends up feeling tingly or even numb.

The output current can be adjusted, so you really only want to dial in enough juice for the pain to disappear, and it seems to include individual settings for the knees, shoulders, lower back & hips, upper back, and your hands & wrists. Normally I’d raise an eyebrow or 2 at an electronic device that promises relief from pain, but according to Joel Durham Jr. who writes for ExtremeTech, the TENS was quite effective at relieving his own back pain. And while this doesn’t seem like the kind of device you should use without the approval of your doctor, they do appear to be available for sale online to the general public, but expect to pay upwards of $800 if you’re interested.



from http://www.ohgizmo.com/

dluby

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 06:24:10 AM »
Yeah, lower back pain seems to be a normal part of life for me (particularly when trying to sleep).

I'd be interested to hear people's experience of these devices.

CWuestefeld

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 10:16:57 AM »
I used to suffer back pain, and went to a chiropractor regularly for it. He used an electrical stimulation device, possibly similar to what's being discussed. I definitely experienced improvement from the visits.

However, my wife and I committed to a real exercise regimen, and this has improved the situation so that I no longer see the chiropractor (and feel better than when I had). I suspect that the crunches and other abdominal exercises are what's relevant here.

40hz

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 12:35:55 PM »
However, my wife and I committed to a real exercise regimen, and this has improved the situation so that I no longer see the chiropractor (and feel better than when I had). I suspect that the crunches and other abdominal exercises are what's relevant here.

Exercise? I was afraid that was going to be the answer.  :(

KenR

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2008, 09:21:32 AM »
I used to suffer back pain, and went to a chiropractor regularly for it. He used an electrical stimulation device, possibly similar to what's being discussed. I definitely experienced improvement from the visits.

However, my wife and I committed to a real exercise regimen, and this has improved the situation so that I no longer see the chiropractor (and feel better than when I had). I suspect that the crunches and other abdominal exercises are what's relevant here.

Two separate ways of decreasing pain have been raised in this thread: TENS unit usage to decrease pain by Mouser and subsequently exercise by CWuestefeld. Since pain control mechanisms vary greatly with these two approaches it's probably best to keep them conceptually separate.

Exercise is sometimes an extremely helpful aspect of pain management. In the case of the back, exercise strengthens the abdominal or stomach muscles. As these muscles increase in strength, they can serve a greater role in postural support. Pain then decreases because there is less stress on the spine.

In contrast, a TENS unit serves a strictly palliative role rather than attempting to modify the underlying pathophysiology. As described in Mouser's post, these units decrease pain by disrupting the "pain signal" being transmitted through the nerves. An additional or alternative approach used by some (particularly newer) devices, is to stimulate the release of the body's natural pain reduction substances (endorphins) into the muscles.

As CWuestefeld indicated, it's preferable to eliminate or decrease a medical problem rather than just treating the resulting symptoms. Sometimes this is not possible though or even potentially dangerous. When this is the case, treating the symptoms with a TENS (or any other approach) is all that's left.

Regarding the two approaches, signal disruption is the older one and it appears that an increasing number of devices are being designed to release endorphins or to do both. Consistent with this shift, an informal review of the information available on the internet appears to suggest that TENS units that stimulate endorphin release decrease pain more.

Ken
Kenneth P. Reeder, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Jacksonville, North Carolina  28546

CWuestefeld

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2008, 11:10:31 AM »
As CWuestefeld indicated, it's preferable to eliminate or decrease a medical problem rather than just treating the resulting symptoms. Sometimes this is not possible though or even potentially dangerous.

For these extreme cases, I agree completely.

an informal review of the information available on the internet appears to suggest that TENS units that stimulate endorphin release decrease pain more.

A good exercise program will improve the underlying problem, as you note, and it will also release endorphins to make you feel better:
  • "Most researchers have found that moderate-intensity exercise lasting at least 20 to 30 minutes produces the greatest increase of blood endorphins." http://www.healthcen...orfat/408/41285.html
  • "Another widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult." http://en.wikipedia....phin#Runner.27s_high
For those without pathological conditions preventing exercise, this must be the optimal answer.

techidave

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 01:12:59 PM »
I use the Electro Reflex Energizer, http://www.chimachin...com/reflexology.html.  I haven't used the Tens unit yet, but I really like this one.  My son has a Tens unit which I hope to use it in a couple of days when I go to visit him.

CWuestefeld

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2008, 01:27:46 PM »
I use the Electro Reflex Energizer, http://www.chimachin...com/reflexology.html.  I haven't used the Tens unit yet, but I really like this one.  My son has a Tens unit which I hope to use it in a couple of days when I go to visit him.
Errrm. From their web site:
Quote
After the first 6 months of using the Electro Reflex Energizer in her wellness center, Linda reported the following:
* Parasites and tapeworms destroyed quickly (excreted)
* Viruses, bacteria, mold, fungus and yeast eliminated completely.
* Healed nerves. Previously numb feet regain feelings (confirmed by many distributors).
* The electro pads generate outstanding results for sore shoulders, neck, back and pulled muscles.
* Radiation appears removed and prevented from further entering the body.
* Blood purification.
* One female reported fifteen fibroid tumors had dissolved (verified by doctor).

"Radiation appears removed and prevented from further entering the body" -- please, give me credit for some intelligence. Do they think I'll believe that some electrical stimulation this morning is going to prevent damage from exposure to xrays or something this afternoon?

To be clear: I do believe that this can help certain symptoms. But it looks like some marketers are trying to take something that has narrow applications and making it out to be a silver bullet.

SKesselman

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2008, 10:20:06 PM »
Yeah, lower back pain seems to be a normal part of life for me (particularly when trying to sleep).

I'd be interested to hear people's experience of these devices.


I'm currently in physical therapy, and  :-* also get electrostimulation...looked like some hocus-pocus device at first, but it's really helpful. He puts 4 electrode things on my back & has me lay down on a large ice pack. I don't know if it's the TENS or what, I'll ask tomorrow.

And (blehhhh... :P) the exercises there actually help, too.


-Sarah

wyrwolf

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2008, 04:03:05 PM »
Here's another up-n-coming method

Pain Gone - drug free pain relief
http://www.bodyclock...KN35ICFRFBFQod_CHB_w

I've got severe fibromyalgia, so I'm always looking for alternative forms of relief but the cost to even try a lot of these cutting-edgy type things is kinda shocking - PainGone $89.95 Yikes!
It is what it is.

CleverCat

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2008, 01:04:35 AM »
I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis - unable to walk! Sometimes I manage to pull my shoulder while turning in bed and for the next day the pain is..  :stars:

A session with my TENS machine works wonders!

Tip: Try placing the pads on the soles of your feet - on low setting - it's a 'pleasure trip'!  ;D

stansrailpix

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2008, 01:15:29 AM »
Hello all;
              TENS never helped my back pain, but I have had multiple back surgery's so my case is not a typical one. I have a Spinal cord stimulator that is implanted in my back. It does help quite a bit, but it is not for everyone. I Used ANS Medical,
http://www.powerover...ut/proven/index.html
              The most important thing, In my opinion, is to find a good Pain Specialist that you can work with. Every case is different and it took me
years to find a good Pain Specialist. 
                                                           Stay well my friends,
                                                                                              Stan ;D
                                                                                                                    
Stans Railpix : A Free RailPhoto Gallery  !   http://www.trainweb.org/railpix

J-Mac

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2008, 01:37:11 AM »
I have a similar unit, also from Empi. It actually does help to an extent, but I have two problems with using the device:
.

  • First, where I have to place the electrodes is next to impossible for me to do by myself, unfortunately. There is a product called "conductive garments" that have electrodes built-in so that you just put it on, plug the TENS unit in, and turn it on. But they are commonly made only for areas that affect the most people. None are available for my problem, so my unit sits in a drawer.

.


  • Empi requires that you purchase supplies (mainly the electrode patches and leads) from them regularly, like a subscription.  However they apparently go through sales people often:  I had a new person every month for almost a year! Problem arises in that once that person leaves, they do not reassign nor monitor the person's voice mailbox, so you leave message after message until it fills and then you get nothing but an auto-hangup. Calling the operator always gets you the same result - she transfers yopu to the voice mail of the last person assigned to your account.  Aarrghh!
.


I gave up.

.

Jim

mikiem

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Re: Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Gadgets for Pain Relief?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 04:34:35 PM »
FWIW, some might want to try Qi Gong - a sort of toned down Tai Chi is the much simplified way I'd introduce it.

There's a Japanese therapy I just read about that translates into something like Gentle Heat if I remember correctly. Infrared sauna followed by warm blankets, again if I'm remembering correctly.

Promising research is focusing on very, very small (trace) electrical current applied to electrodes attached to the scalp.

Tens units to my knowledge were originally available, targeting muscle development & training. While originally claims were to increase muscle size through electrically stimulated contractions, the real benefit was as an aid in pumping out lactic acid after a workout, and then wasn't all that effective, or as effective as massage. They weren't that expensive at the time - something comparable to the unit pictured was less than $50 - though I haven't any idea if they're still available thru stores selling athletic supplies, supplements and such. I would assume the pricing increased partly from the medical emphasis, & partly if they get away with it.

I'd have to question if the benefits ascribed to Tens were from stimulating the muscles rather than nerves, allegedly interrupting pathways etc, & would strongly suggest getting an un-biased, qualified medical opinion from more than one source if possible.

For neurological pain, with the exception of disorders like FMS or sciatica, there's usually something effecting nerves, and removing that root cause is the preferred way to go AFAIK. Sometimes that takes surgery, other times exercise, massage, stretching etc. Sometimes you can even get away with nutritional supplements &/or diet - there's a lot of new writing out re: vit. D, how most of us are deficient, & how it can cause pain. The hard part is finding a doc or docs who will ferret out the cause, and insurance will not always pay for all the exploring. Holistic medicine can provide some innovative & often worthwhile treatments, but, as their focus is on making your whole body well, you might spend a lot of time and effort without effecting your main issue - pain.