Suffering With Chronic Back Pain? Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation May Help
Severe back pain is often difficult to manage. You may need high doses of pain killers to get pain relief, but then you are in danger of becoming addicted to the medications. If your pain is severe or chronic, you may have the best results by working with a pain management clinic or a doctor who specializes in pain treatments. There are a few different options you can try with or without having to take prescription drugs. One of them is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS.
How TENS Works
A TENS unit is a small device you attach to your body with electrodes. It transmits an electrical current through your skin. This current interrupts the transmission of pain signals along your nerve pathways. If the pain signals can't be read by your brain, it may lessen your awareness of pain in your back. Another way the treatment works is by increasing the release of your body's natural pain-killing substances through electrical stimulation.
How To Take The Treatment
You can rent or buy a TENS unit to use at home. Your doctor will advise you on how often you should use the machine as well as what the settings should be. The difficult part may be placing the electrodes on your back if you live alone. The electrodes need to be placed on the skin above the area of your pain. Your skin is prepped first by cleaning it with alcohol. Then gel is applied to the skin because it helps increase the conduction of electricity. Next, you apply the electrodes and tape them in place.
The TENS unit itself is small enough to clip onto your belt, so you can wear it throughout the day. The device has wires that connect it to the electrodes. Your doctor may want you to use the device all day, or you may use it periodically for several minutes at a time. You can leave the electrodes on all day, but you should remove them once a day and place new ones in a different position, so your skin doesn't get sore.
How The Treatment Feels
The TENS unit has dials on it that control the amount of electricity you receive. Your doctor prescribes the correct setting for you. The goal is to make the signal strong enough that you feel a tingling sensation. However, if your muscles twitch, it's an indication the setting is too strong, and you need to dial back on the intensity of the current. A TENS treatment is not painful or uncomfortable. If it works for you, you should feel some relief from your back pain after several minutes of treatment. TENS doesn't cure your back pain, it just offers temporary relief as an aid or alternative to prescription drugs.
TENS therapy may not work for you, but since it is safe and without harmful side effects, it might be worth a try. One of the advantages of working with a pain management clinic like Pain Treatment Center is they can offer you different forms of therapy until you find something that helps manage your back pain.