8th February, 2018
You might have been recommended a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) mechine as part of your treatment for back pain. This helpful medical device won’t ‘cure’ your symptoms but it can provide short-term pain relief and it’s a useful alternative or addition to pain medication.
A TENS machine is a small battery-powered unit which adheres to your skin via sticky pads called electrodes. The electrodes trasmit small electrical impulses, creating a tingling or pins and needles sensation in your skin which distracts the nerves in the area to reduce pain signals and help relax muscle spasm. The effects can last for up to 4 hours afterwards.
Each individual TENS unit comes with an instruction manual which will explain the different settings and most include pictures to show you where to stick the the electrodes. Every brand of machine is slightly different so please do read your instruction manual.
You can choose to use either 2 or 4 electrode pads depending on how large the area of pain is that you are treating.
If your lower back pain is on one side, try using two electrodes. Place one pad at the top point of the pain and one pad below (about 1 inch apart). Try to place the pads on the muscle as opposed to directly onto your back bones:
If you have pain in the middle of your back or either side of your spine, try using 4 electrodes. Place placing one electrode either side of your spine at the top point of your pain about 1 inch out from the spine. Place the other two either side of your spine at the base of your pain, again 1 inch out from the spine:
The unit itself can be hooked onto a belt loop or the to of your trousers, so you can carry on with your normal activities whilst using it.
Do not use TENS without first seeking medical advice if you have any of the following:
Most people do not experience any adverse side-effects to using TENS. However very occasionally your area of pain may become more sensitive – if this occurs then stop using immediately. Some people may also experience a reaction to the electrode pads, such as itching/rash. Again, stop using immediately if this occurs.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions,
The Physiofit Team!
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