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TENS unit
Old 03-01-2008, 07:51 AM   #1
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TENS unit

I have had TENS (trascutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) treatments for back spasms in the past. Recently, my wife developed heel pain, presumptively diagnosed as plantar fascitis. I have been trying to deal with pain at the base of my thumb dignosed at arthritis (it sure doesn't feel like the arthritis I have in any other joint; this pain can shoot!) Anyway, we found that a TENS unit can be purchased on Amazon really cheap; and it works. By works, I mean that the electrodes produce the same feeling of current running across the area at issue as I had experienced at the therpapist. The thumb, after three days of twice a day stimulation, feels better. I understand that his may be placebo or coincidental. My wife has had a similar experience with the heel although she played competitive tennis yesterday and flared it up a bit. The primary use I see for this TENS device is for the next time I have a subscapular muscle spasm–I get those once in awhile. Has anyone else had experience with these units and an opinion on their use? To me, it's analogous to the old fashioned remedy of soaking anything that aches in epsom salts.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:58 AM   #2
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If it is the type of system that you place on the skin and it pulses the muscles, then I have had those as part of my pt. The therapist told me to try it after my 1st pt session. I gave it a 2nd try too. It was supposed to lessen the pain. It did nothing for me.
What worked for me was about 50 sessions with the pt stretching out muscles and nerves in the legs and back and stengthening the stomach/back muscles.

If it works for you, even if it is a placebo effect, I say go for it.
Whatever works, I always say.
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:51 AM   #3
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If it works for you, even if it is a placebo effect, I say go for it.
Whatever works, I always say.
I agree. Plus it sounds like the device is very inexpensive so not a big financial outlay either.
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Old 03-01-2008, 11:05 AM   #4
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I don't know why they work (stimulate circulation? distract nerves?) but I love mine.
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Old 03-01-2008, 11:56 AM   #5
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The primary use I see for this TENS device is for the next time I have a subscapular muscle spasmĖI get those once in awhile. Has anyone else had experience with these units and an opinion on their use?
Be sure to keep us informed as to how it goes. Subscapular spasm can be really painful; if I get one I wond up spending some money with a massage therapist. Something I could just hook up sounds great. I suppose it might also help the lower back pain I still have from a car crash.

Ha
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:26 PM   #6
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I've had a tens unit for about 4 years now. It helps a lot with nerve pain, and muscle spasms caused by inflamed nerves. I've had back problems, for quite a while and the tens was paid for by my insurance co. I think in the long run it saved them a lot of money on drugs. shredder
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:45 PM   #7
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I don't know why they work (stimulate circulation? distract nerves?) but I love mine.
The nerves work via an electrical-type impulse. The TENS disrupt the transmission of this impulse. Sometimes just a little disruption can cease the spasm.

I've had TENS therapy for an injured ankle, as well as whiplash. LOVED IT!
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Old 03-01-2008, 04:11 PM   #8
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I don't know why they work (stimulate circulation? distract nerves?) but I love mine.
They work based upon what is called the gate theory. Your sensory nerves have different fibers for various functions - such as sensation of pain, light touch, temperature, etc. Well, when you have pain, the sensation is carried up to the respective level in the spinal cord. Certain neurotransmitters (chemicals) are released that send the message of pain up to the brain (via tracts in the spinal cord), and, subsequently, you feel pain.

Now, the TENS unit stimulates certain sensory nerve fibers, too. The sensation is carried up to the same respective level in the spinal cord. Again, neurotransmitters are released. It just so happens that these neurotransmitters can block the "gate" for the pain neurotransmitters. The connecting neuron cannot "fire" as easily, and thus, the message of pain isn't sent to the brain...and you feel better.

It's the same effect of how rubbing your toe after you stub it makes it feel better.

For a geek-out full explanation: Gate control theory of pain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's a temporary effect (and doesn't cure the underlying cause of the pain) but helps provide relief for lots of people.
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Old 03-02-2008, 08:48 PM   #9
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Weíve had our TENS unit for over a decade. We use it all the time for muscle aches, sporting aches and back pain. In fact, in our global resident lifestyle where every item has a value measured against the weight we have to carry, we choose to schlepp our TENS unit around the world with us. This lets you know how valuable we, personally, consider it to be.

Usually (in our experience), but not always, the greatest relief is shown the following day after use.

One caveat I would interject here is from personal experience where I had overstretched a ligament or tendon and used the unit directly on the area, thinking it was simply muscle exertion. The ligament or tendon (not sure which) responded by being Ďaggravatedí by the electrical action, instead of giving me relief. I put the sticky pads further away from the troubling area and that worked better.

Best,
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:15 PM   #10
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As I was intrigued by the positive comments here, I checked eBay for a unit. There appear to be several.

Are all TENS units the same or are there specific features I should be looking for? Do all of them use the (what looks to be) disposable sticky pads?

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Old 03-05-2008, 02:08 AM   #11
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Like I mentioned, our unit is a decade old. However, while living here in Thailand, we needed to replace the sticky pads. The units here in Thailand were built completely differently, with clip on or screwed on sticky pads, rather than wires that went into leads - which is the style we have.

We ordered our pads from an online company, shipping, (I believe) from Singapore and had our replacement pads within a week.

My suggestion is to find out what type of connection the pads have to your unit, and then find out where you can get that style of replacement pads, and how easy that will be for you. Then buy a few sets of replacement pads.

These can be easily cleaned with some alcohol and water in a bowl. Wash the pads by running your thumb over the sticky section and then letting them air dry. You can prolong the life of your pads in this manner with several washings as needed.

Our unit has a 'pulse width' and a 'frequency' control on the back of the unit where the battery is placed. It's pretty simple, really. A Century 2400 model.

For a while there, eBay wasn't selling them online -- something about selling medical goods without a prescription... Glad to hear they are now selling them again. What are they going for?

Be well,
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Old 03-05-2008, 06:44 AM   #12
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I've never heard of these units... A friend of mine collects wacky devices, and bought a functioning one of these:
Tesla > Violet Ray

The interchangeable bulbs glowed blue-purple and zapped ya.
Scroll to the end and look at the list of all the ailments it supposedly cured!

The nerve jiggling aspect is interesting. I see there's also an electronic razor now out, that runs some kind of low current ("soothing micropulses") through the blades for a more comfortable shave.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:39 AM   #13
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i borrowed a friend's TENS unit for 3 weeks. i have tendonitis and stuff from RSI and carpal tunnel. my opinion was it felt good while it was doing it's electrostimulus thing, but no real relief. maybe 3 weeks wasn't enough. ??
what does work for me is a home paraffin bath. especially during rapid barometric pressure changes. the warmth increases circulation and brings instant relief. if you get an doctor's Rx for specific home medical equip, i.e. a home paraffin bath and/or TENS, your insurance may pick up a portion of the cost.
re plantar fascitis, some relief can be had from those gel partial heel/arch support slip- ins available at your local drugstore. my podiatrist told me to wear the same type of shoes with good support for several months. in other words, don't switch from flats to heels to sneakers. and do my nightly stretching the heel exercises. it went away after 5 months of following doc's orders.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:07 AM   #14
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A friend's daughter is a ballerina. She says a number of dancers in her company use Tens units with one the dancers she described as being "addicted" to it. That dancer even had some small burns from its use. I thought that was a tad odd.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:37 AM   #15
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For a while there, eBay wasn't selling them online -- something about selling medical goods without a prescription... Glad to hear they are now selling them again. What are they going for?

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On eBay, I found a lot of Chinese units that are being sold for $79AU through some Australian company.

Many other varieties are being sold from international sources; prices seem to be between $50 -$130.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:45 AM   #16
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A few years ago, my doctor was trying to help me with my pain. Pain killers and muscle relaxers did very little for me. I was given a Tens unit to try. It felt good and I was so hoping that it would help me, but it didn't work. They finally did a mri and found I had a herniated disc.

If it had been a muscle, I firmly believe the unit would have worked well. But for the disc, my disc, it was pretty much useless.

I endured chronic pain for a year and a half. I finally got relief. I say if it makes you feel better, go for it. Pain can wear you down.
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:16 PM   #17
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On eBay, I found a lot of Chinese units that are being sold for $79AU through some Australian company. Many other varieties are being sold from international sources; prices seem to be between $50 -$130.
Thanks, Omni. Great news.

Ladelfina:
Quote:
I've never heard of these units... A friend of mine collects wacky devices, and bought a functioning one of these: Tesla > Violet Ray
Thereís all kinds of folks using electronics for health. Lots of sites on Bioelectronics and frequency healing. This, Iím sure, seems wacky if itís new to you, if you have never heard of them, or have not done any research. Some Ayurvedic Spas here in Thailand have these machines, and people from all over the world come here for treatments to use them.

This is an informative article: http://www.livescience.com/health/080205-virus-shattering.html New Way to Kill Viruses, Shake Them to Death

Bbbami
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They finally did a mri and found I had a herniated disc. If it had been a muscle, I firmly believe the unit would have worked well. But for the disc, my disc, it was pretty much useless.
Glad you got relief! Back pain stinks.

I have met Dr. Jolie here in Thailand, but she works out of the States and has a very useful down to earth website on managing pain, and does what she can to prevent back surgery. Worth a look. From our Medical Options Page: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/links_medical_options.htm

Dr. Jolie Bookspan A sports medicine specialist and successful karate competitor, Dr. Jolie's methods and pain reduction techniques are so successful, they are used by top military, orthopedic centers, and athletic training centers around the world. Her site gives helpful information on pain rehab, how to avoid joint pain, back and neck pain, books, classes, patient success stories and more. Check out her terrific up-to-date blog, The Fitness Fixer .

Hope the info helps.
Be well,
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:19 PM   #18
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Thanks for the links, Akaisha. The chronic pain I suffered took a toll on my body and mind. I was 41 at the time and I could not imagine having to deal with this for the rest of my life.

Thank heavens for the pain specialist. So far so good.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:16 PM   #19
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Thanks for the links, Akaisha. The chronic pain I suffered took a toll on my body and mind. I was 41 at the time and I could not imagine having to deal with this for the rest of my life. Thank heavens for the pain specialist. So far so good.


Hi Bbbami,

You are most welcome. Chronic pain stinks tooÖ I have friends and family members who suffer from various chronic pain complications and itís a real challenge.

There are uniquely profound lessons one can learn from having pain and pain is a relentless teacher. It brings us to places we would not normally choose as Iím sure you well know. I have learned such valuable things (compassion, insight, surrender, mental and emotional flexibility) but I know what you meanÖ I think I would prefer something more gentle or at least fun!

I am sincerely happy that the pain specialist is working for you!

Be well, all ways,
Akaisha
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