What is a TENS Unit and How Can It Help You

Do you have problems taking NSAIDS for pain due to side effects such as dizziness, ulcers, diarrhea or kidney problems? Have you ever heard of  people using a TENS unit for pain control? Here at Oahu Spine and Rehab, TENS units are prescribed by our medical department as a safe alternative for pain control.

First off, what is a TENS unit and what does it do? TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A TENS unit is a compact and mobile device which can send low voltage electrical current to the surface of the skin to control pain. The pulses are transmitted to the underlying nerves. The intensity, pulse rate, pulse width and wavelength of the current can be adjusted to meet specific needs of the patient. Most units are battery operated and are equipped to use 2 or 4 electrodes stemming from 2 separate channels.

The benefits of using TENS units are they can be used for chronic and acute pain within muscles, joints and nerves. It is portable and easy to use which make it accessible for almost all times when pain occurs. There are some contraindications when TENS units are not recommended for use.  Some of most common contraindications are not using on patients with implanted pacemakers/surgical hardware, carotid artery region, eyes, patients with heart disease and areas over the face/head in which electrical current travels through the head. Pregnancy has not been established as a true contraindication, but at Oahu Spine and Rehab, our medical team will get clearance from the patient’s treating OB/GYN regarding the use of TENS.

There are a couple theories as to how TENS therapy works on pain relief. The first theory suggests that the electrical current blocks the pain that is transmitted through nerve endings, which is called the Gate Control Theory. The second theory suggests the Endorphin Release Theory where the electrical current stimulates the nerve to release endorphins at the spinal cord where they meet the sensory nerves which carry the pain messages from our body.

At Oahu Spine and Rehab, our initial phase of care is to provide relief to our patients. TENS therapy is not a replacement for treatment, but just another tool in our toolbox that we can help provide. Schedule today for a complimentary consultation with our medical department and see if a TENS unit would be beneficial for your symptoms. If prescribed by our medical department, it will be submitted to your insurance company and once we receive authorization/approval, our Durable Medical Equipment (DME) coordinator will meet with you to dispense the TENS unit and teach you how to properly  use the equipment. Call us today! (808) 488-5555

Scott Mochinaga

Certified Athletic Trainer

Chiropractor Kailua

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