General Description of Electrotherapy
Electrotherapy is a physical treatment whereby electrical stimulation is applied to nerves and muscles via electrodes (also called electro pads) that are placed on the skin. Electrotherapy devices work in slightly different ways, depending on what type of problem they are treating. Certain devices excel at treating pain, while others specialize in muscle stimulation. Electrotherapy devices that help with pain associated with surgery, traumatic injury as well as chronic and acute pain are called TENS, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator.
How Does TENS work?
TENS are designed to relieve pain by sending gentle electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves. Those impulses are sent through lead wires to electrodes that are strategically placed at appropriate pain sites. TENS units use a 2-way approach: First, the stimulation targets the sensory nerves, stimulating them to block pain signals and prevent their transmission to the brain. Second, it promotes production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reducing substance.
What is the most effective way to use a TENS unit?
To achieve the best results of electrotherapy, it is important to remember that the therapy merely activates the body’s own pain fighting mechanism. Placing electrodes directly over or around the painful area delivers a pain blocking current to the nerves and blocks the pain. Health professionals recommend to slightly vary the placement of the electrodes each treatment to avoid skin irritation.
Caution: People with cardiac conditions and/or pacemakers, and pregnant women should consult their doctors before using a TENS unit.