Chronic pain disrupts the lives of an astounding number of people. It stems from a variety of causes, but the result is the same — you struggle to live a normal life. Physical activity may be difficult, your relationships may suffer, and you likely feel as if your world is becoming smaller and smaller as you attempt to manage your pain.
At Apex Medical Center, our talented team of providers works to help people like you learn how to manage their chronic pain and live fulfilling and active lives. We often suggest treatment approaches for pain management that our patients have never heard of or attempted. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy is one such approach.
Interrupting the signal
A TENS machine consists of a small base connected to a series of electrodes. The electrodes are placed on your skin, usually in the area you’re having pain — for example, if you’re lower back hurts, the electrodes are placed there.
The electrodes deliver a small electrical pulse to your muscles and nerves. This small pulse can disrupt the pain signals going to your brain, and may cause your body to release pain-reducing chemicals.
As with many alternative or complementary alternative treatments for pain, TENS therapy hasn’t been extensively researched. Very generally, it seems to work well as one piece of an overall pain management strategy, and it’s usually more effective when you first begin using it than after you’ve used it for several weeks or months.
Safety of TENS therapy
The good news is that TENS therapy has few side effects, as long as you’re cleared to use it. People who have a pacemaker or other implanted heart rhythm device and pregnant women should not use a TENS unit. Otherwise, as long as your provider has trained you how to use the device, it’s safe.
If you’re dealing with debilitating chronic pain, and you can use TENS therapy safely for relief, it’s a good idea to try. It can help while you complete other elements of your treatment plan, such as physical therapy.
A layered approach
Our providers often suggest multi-pronged treatment plans for patients who have chronic pain. If you have a condition such as osteoarthritis, it can be difficult to exercise because of pain, but exercise can help ease the pain, which presents a conundrum.
Using a treatment like TENS therapy can ease the pain, so that you can exercise and strengthen all of the tissues that support your joints. So, while it may not provide long-term pain relief, TENS therapy often helps patients reach long-term pain relief.
Get a personalized plan
Your pain is unique to your body and your circumstances. Even if other people have the same condition you have, no one else has the same job, family responsibilities, hobbies, or DNA that you have. Since you’re one-of-a-kind, you need a treatment approach that’s designed to fit into your life.
At Apex Medical Center, our providers understand that not every type of treatment will work well for every patient. We’re careful to tailor your pain management plan for you. If you’d like to learn more about our approach, schedule an appointment at any of our three convenient locations today.