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Is TENS a Natural Remedy

Health & Wellness

Is TENS a Natural Remedy?

Many people suffer from neck and back pain without even knowing the cause of their discomfort. Many others suffer from pains that stem from diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and other conditions. In a day and age where prescriptions are written for nearly any ailment, many people are looking for other ways of treating their pain. Prescription medications often come with the risk of dependency and can cause a range of side effects. By turning to more natural remedies, people are learning how to leave those prescription medications behind.

Turning to Natural Remedies

When you go to a traditional doctor and complain about a debilitating pain, more often than not you will get prescribed a medication to numb that pain. That medication may cause side effects, which another medication is prescribed to treat. The cycle continues.

Although many people who are on pain medications may not want to be, they often haven’t found any other way of easing their pain. Many times the pain is so debilitating that without a particular medication, they couldn’t go through with their daily tasks.

For people with minor pain, natural remedies such as a change in diet, regular exercise, and the use of essential oils may help alleviate discomfort. For others, this simply isn’t enough. A combination of easy, natural remedies and alternative treatments may be required. In some cases, pain medication may still be necessary - albeit in smaller doses. TENS - transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation - can be a welcome relief for many people who are looking for alternative pain treatments.

man using TENS Using TENS as a Natural Remedy

TENS units are small, lightweight, portable devices that can work almost anywhere for instant pain relief. They can go on a belt, in the hand, or in a pocket. The only times you shouldn’t use the device is while driving, operating machinery, or taking a shower.

The unit works by placing electrodes onto the skin via adhesive pads. Most machines come with four pads, although others come with two or even eight. You then turn on the unit and set the frequency and intensity. You will feel a slight tingling sensation and your pain should be reduced. If you feel more pain or significant discomfort, you should reduce the intensity of the unit.

You should never place the pads on the front or sides of the neck, the eyes, or the head. Other common painful areas, such as the shoulders or lower back, can be easily treated with this machine. The TENS unit is also discreet; you can wear it all day, so you can go to work and run errands without having to worry about anything.

These units work via electric currents, which work through the skin to stimulate the release of endorphins and scramble pain signals in the body. They work in a similar way to many common pain medications, yet without all of the side effects. This makes them a reliable, affordable choice for those who are looking for alternative treatments.

Who Should Administer TENS?

One of the best aspects of TENS is that it can be self-administered. There is no risk of “overdosing”, and the only potential problem is an allergic reaction to the adhesive pads. If this happens, hypoallergenic pads are available. The only people who shouldn’t use TENS are those who pregnant, have epilepsy, suffer from heart problems or have a pacemaker.

In order for TENS to be effective, you should consider your particular condition. To do this properly, you should make sure that you make an appointment with a physical therapist or other doctor before trying the device on your own. Some doctors have TENS units that they can loan out for you to try before purchasing your own. High frequencies treat acute pain, while lower frequencies treat chronic pain. Some doctors may also show you how to place TENS on acupuncture points to further alleviate your pain.

When you’ve found the perfect settings for your pain, you can easily and safely administer the treatment from your own home. Although pain relief is almost immediate, it is temporary. It may be necessary to use the unit frequently throughout the day.

Different TENS Techniques

Most doctors will suggest conventional TENS, which works whenever pain arrives and produces a strong, yet comfortable tingling sensation. You can administer it throughout the day anytime you feel pain.

If patients don’t respond to conventional TENS, the adhesive pads go over acupuncture points to produce muscle contractions. Doctors use this less frequently, from 15-30 minutes at a time.

Intense TENS, which refers to high frequencies and high intensities, is rare. Instead of acting simply as an analgesic, intense TENS increases the pain threshold of patients in times of suture removal or wound treatment. 1

Combining TENS with Other Natural Remedies

TENS can be extremely effective for both chronic and acute pain, but it is not a cure-all. The units alleviate pain while they are in use, but they don’t solve the underlying problem that is causing the pain. To get the most out of this type of treatment, it should be combined with a handful of other natural remedies.

Proper diet and regular exercise can do wonders for the body. Training and strengthening the muscles surrounding the painful area can further alleviate discomfort. Simple acts of self-care, such as massaging analgesic essential oils into the painful area can also help.

The body can build up a tolerance to TENS over time, so it is important to alternate this form of treatment with other natural remedies. By combining natural treatments with a healthy lifestyle, you can ease pain and reduce the need for prescription medications.

Photo credits: neotemlpars/, neotemlpars/

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