EXPLANATION OF PAIN
Pain is a warning system and the body’s method of telling us that something is wrong. Pain is important; without it abnormal conditions may go undetected , causing damage or injury to vital parts of our bodies. Even though pain is a necessary warning signal of trauma or malfunction in the body, nature may have gone too far in its design. Aside from its value in diagnosis, long-lasting persistent pain serves no useful purpose. Pain does not begin until a coded message travels to the brain where it is decoded, analysed, and then reacted to. The pain message travels from the injured area along the small nerves leading to the spinal cord. Here the message is switched to different nerves that travel up the spinal cord to the brain. The pain message is then interpreted, referred back and the pain is felt.
WHAT IS TENS?
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a battery powered electrical unit which uses electrodes placed onto the skin to deliver electrical impulses to the nerve fibres which lie underneath the skin surface. It is used to provide pain relief by blocking pain signals to the brain via the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system, and also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s own pain relieving mechanism. Usually the electrodes are placed around the pain area or on acupressure points. Unlike medication, TENS does not produce side effects such as nausea or drowsiness. It can be administered while the client is going about normal activity and is not addictive.
HOW DOES TENS WORK?
The TENs Machine can work in two ways but firstly it is important to understand how the body feels pain. Messages are sent from the brain to all areas of the body and back again by the nerves, which run from the brain down the spinal cord spreading out to the trunk, arms and legs. If you touch something hot a message will flash along the nerves, up the spinal cord and into the brain. A second message would immediately be sent back to the same area telling you to move your hand away. This process takes only a fraction of a second. TENs works by a method called pain gating where the stimulation of the TENs machine blocks the messages to the brain telling it the body is experiencing pain. It also encourages the brain to produce the bodies own natural painkilling hormones known as endorphins.
ARE THERE ANY DANGERS OR SIDE-EFFECTS WITH T.E.N.S.?
Remember, the current travels through the skin between pairs of electrodes and only penetrates to a depth of 1-2 inches (to the level of the underlying nerve fibres). Such a small electrical current does not pose any danger.
WHAT CAN TENS BE USED FOR?
TENS can be used to treat most types of pain where the cause has been determined including: Arthritis • Back Pain • Bruising Calf Strain • Dead Leg • Fibrositis Finger Pain • Headaches Migraines Knee Pain • Lumbago Muscle Stress • Neck Pain • Neuralgia Osteo-arthritis • Period Pains Post Herpatic Neuralgia Pregnancy/Labour Pains Rheumatism • Sciatica Shoulder Pain • Sleeplessness Spondylosis • Sports Injuries Tennis Elbow • Tenosynovitis Wrist Pain
HOW IS IT USED?
The Standard TENS treatment (convention or high frequency settings) is performed when the Pulse Rate is set to 60 pulses per second or more. The sensation produced will be a steady buzzing or tingling feeling between the electrodes. Because the TENS signal is perceived as stronger than the pain signal being produced by the body, it effectively blocks the pain signal from travelling along nerves to the brain. Most clients find that high-frequency treatments produce the quickest relief from pain, as well as providing several hours of relief after the treatment. Treatment duration - 30 - 60 minutes, or continuous if required. Most modern units are portable and can be clipped to the belt while going about normal activities. Low-frequency or burst type of treatment is produced when the Pulse Rate setting on the TENS unit is set manually below 10 pulses per second (or as with some units, at automatic burst mode. Lowfrequency treatments produce visible muscle twitching often described as a tapping or pulsating sensation. In reaction to this type of stimulation the body releases endorphins (pain-killing chemicals produced naturally in the body). These endorphins act as a chemical nerve block to reduce pain by interrupting the pain signals along the nerves to the brain. Often this type of treatment can take longer to be effective but the results last longer. nerves to the brain. Often this type of treatment can take longer to be effective but the results last longer.
POSITION OF THE ELECTRODES
Best results are achieved by placing the electrodes directly over the pain site. With dual machines, additional electrodes can be positioned to surround the site. Electrodes can also be used to stimulate traditional acupressure points if required
EMS is very similar to a human TENS machine, where a small electrical current is passed into the body. The difference between the two machines is that TENS stimulates nerves to give pain relief and EMS stimulates muscles to create a contraction.
Special pads are stuck to the skin at either end of a muscle, the current is then passed and the muscle contracts. This is the technology used in Slendertone machines. This is a useful way of stopping muscle wasting and can be used even before the animal is able to stand. It is also useful for building muscle when the animal cannot use the muscles themselves particularly after a neurological damage and they cannot get around very well.