One of our patients emailed before Christmas to ask if we could recommend a TENS machine. It’s been absolutely ages since I spoke to someone about TENS and her email was a great reminder to let you all know about it! If you haven’t seen one of these little contraptions before, they’re basically a pack with a few pads that you stick on your skin. The pads deliver small electrical pulses to the areas you’ve stuck them on, which sends a barrage of sensory information to your nerves. This flooding of information for your brain has two purposes
1. It takes up so much of the nerves’ attention that they are less able to transmit pain messages (in essence, they’re distracted from your pain)
2. It stimulates your body to produce those feel-good chemicals, endorphins!
TENS is a great booster for pain relief if you’re really struggling, particularly with a persistent problem or if you want to reduce your reliance on painkillers.
So what can it be used for? According to the NHS, TENS may be able to help with:
- period pain
- pelvic pain associated with endometriosis
- knee pain
- neck pain
- back pain
- sports injuries
- labour pains
To be clear, there are some situations where you shouldn’t use TENS and it’s important to take note if any of these apply to you. If you have epilepsy, if you’re pregnant (and not in labour!), if you have pacemaker or any electrical/ metal implant in your body TENS is not suitable for you unfortunately.
Machines are wide-ranging in price but you can get hold of a decent one on the internet without breaking the bank (the one I recommended recently was £30). As with anything there are no guarantees but if you want to try and reduce your painkiller intake it certainly has potential to be the next best thing other than having an osteopath permanently on hand!