Electrotherapy is a great method for managing pain and is used in physical therapy or at home for many different kinds of pain. For some, buying their own TENS or EMS unit is a crucial and important step towards freedom from chronic pain. To get the most out of your TENS units, there are a few things all new owners should know:
What are TENS and EMS Units?
Firstly, let’s talk about what a TENS or an EMS unit is. In short, these machines use electrostimulation to activate your body’s natural pain response. By sending light shocks to certain parts of the body, a TENS unit will activate pain receptors just enough to send endorphins straight to the affected area. Today, TENS and EMS units are used to help relieve all sorts of pain, including back pain, pain from arthritis, period cramps, and post-operation aches and pains.
When Not to Use Electrotherapy
Typically, your doctor will not recommend electrotherapy if you use a pacemaker or defibrillator, a spinal cord stimulator, insulin pumps or monitors, or any implanted or electronic device, since the electric shocks can tamper with those devices and how they work. While it is always important to speak with your doctor before making any major medical decisions, this is doubly true for people with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, some form of cognitive impairment, or pregnancy.
Preparing for Use
Before you begin to use your TENS unit, there are a few things to keep in mind, the first being to avoid the highest setting on the unit right away. First-time users will often experience painful shocks if they begin with the TENS unit at the highest setting. Typically, you’ll have to experiment with settings to find the one that works best for you, so always approach your doctor before using your unit at home for the first time. Under expert supervision, it’s much safer to find what settings your unit needs to be at. Plus, if your doctor is recommending this equipment to you, they will most likely schedule an appointment with an electrotherapist to help get you started.
Using Your TENS Unit
When using your TENS or EMS unit, it is necessary to avoid water. This includes drying your skin, making sure the machine isn’t wet, and making sure the cables or pads attached to the machine aren’t wet. Next, always avoid placing the pads over open wounds or damaged muscles. If you are using the unit to relieve post-op pain, consider placing the pads around but not over the wounded area. Chances are, your doctor will also let you know where exactly the pads should be placed. Using the unit directly on a wound or damaged tissue may exasperate the damage and delay the healing process.
Storage and Care
Like most electronic devices, store your TENS/EMS unit away from extreme heat and lots of moisture. Every so often, check the unit’s wires and pads to see if they need to be replaced. Replacement wires and electrostimulation pads can be purchased on their own without a prescription.
As always, speak with your doctor before making any major medical choices. To browse other pain management therapies, visit Medical Supply Depot.