Throughout our history we’ve been fascinated by the power and the potential of electricity. Early experiments had mixed results and over the centuries scientists, doctors and engineers have refined their various approaches to harnessing the power of electricity. Today, not only does electrical energy power nearly every aspect of our lives, but it is also used in a range of medical, cosmetic and holistic treatments. Electrolysis for hair removal has been used since the nineteenth century, while electrical treatments have been used for a range of illnesses, including some of the most prevalent psychological conditions. The latter has led to something of a bad press for medical uses of high voltage therapies, but one method of treatment remains widely accepted as having considerable medical benefit and it is the TENS machine treatment.
Unlike its big, ineffective and scary cousin, electric shock treatment, TENS therapy is used to treat pain. Common conditions that it has been found to be effective for include arthritis, neuralgia, sporting injuries, period pain and a range of musculo-skeletal conditions, including common back pain. Small electrical impulses are used to disrupt signals sent to the brain’s pain centres thereby reducing, or completely relieving pain. The sensation produced is normally described as a tingling feeling and is rarely reported to be unpleasant; some medical authorities believe that the sensation itself simply distracts the users from the pain of their condition.
TENS treatment is one of those therapies that provokes some controversy. To date, no clinical trials have proved conclusively that it works; the problem in determining the effectiveness of the treatment seems to stem from a number of issues. The first problem is that TENS does appear to work – but not for everyone. Next up is that it appears to work in two ways; in addition to the disruption of signals to the brain it can also stimulate a release of endorphins; these hormones also suppress the brain’s pain centres and stimulate pleasure centres in the brain. Finally, TENS appears to produce different effects on different conditions and doesn’t work on all conditions for all people. Sometimes it may even work differently in the same people for different conditions. This, of course, is a recipe for a sceptics feast, leaving TENS inhabiting a grey area between “quack cures” and “genuine” science.
A quick click or two on the internet will soon reveal that not only is the effectiveness of TENS therapy in dispute, but that the results really do vary from user to user. However, Medical authorities are not as against TENS machine treatment as you might at first think. The NHS does support TENS as a potential pain relief solution as do many other well respected authorities. Many sources suggest that for chronic pain sufferers who cannot, or don’t want to, use medications or invasive treatments TENS can provide a real alternative. Many also recommend that TENS machines are used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies, including physiotherapy or by increasing activity levels and losing weight (if appropriate).
TENS for You
The simplest way to find out if this type of therapy will work for you is to try it out. Before doing so it’s absolutely imperative to speak to your doctor. Some people should not try TENS; this includes those with conditions similar to epilepsy or those fitted with pacemakers. If, and only if, your GP clears you for TENS, the machines can be bought for as little as £15. This is a small outlay and well worth it should you find the system works for you. Any body who has a chronic, longer term pain condition will know in excruciating detail, just how crippling pain can be. A simple, non-invasive and effective solution TENS is also considered to not produce side effects. For such a low cost investment, if the system works, you will be jumping for joy. Better still, you’ll be able to jump for joy.
TENS machine therapy has been shown, for many individuals, to relieve pain caused by a range of conditions from period pain to arthritis. Although not a guaranteed cure for all people TENS can help a significant number of chronic pain sufferers to live a normal life.