OMG - i starting using a portable TENS unit today. free 1 month trial and if it helps, insurance will cover it. i made it through the whole day without having to take extra pain meds...hopefully it's not just a fluke and will continue to be helpful. back down, arms to go...
i found a website that gives a good description:
TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. The TENS generates electrical impulses that are sent through electrodes placed over nerve centers. The various pulses employed by TENS can block pain signals normally sent to the brain through nerve fibers, thereby interrupting the brain's awareness of pain. The TENS may activate the release of endorphins. These are chemicals in the control system used by the body to suppress pain naturally. It is no longer necessary for many people to endure chronic or constant pain. The use of TENS usually improves pain management significantly. TENS is safe, non-invasive, drug free, non-addictive and has no side effects. The TENS can reduce the need for pain narcotics and drugs. Federal law restricts these devices to sale by or on the order of a physician. TENS is a FDA regulated non-narcotic pain relief device.
TENS works by two different methods. High frequency TENS, is based on the theory that continuous mild electrical activity blocks the pain signal traveling to the brain. If the pain signal does not get through to the brain, the pain is not "felt". The second way TENS works is by stimulating the body's own natural pain-control mechanism. Low frequency or short bursts of electrical activity causes the body to release its own pain relieving substances, called endorphins.
you wear 4 patches, in pairs of 2 [the stimulation goes between each 2], each of which are attached with mini-wires to the battery pack [about the size of a pack of cigarettes] i can set the impulses to either 'tingle' or 'pulse/tingle' and to any intensity i need. hope this makes sense.
I have had one for about two years. I use it off and on, depending upon my pain level. I have a couple of herniated discs. This device has been wonderful. I only use it when my back is acting up more than usual and the pain is worse. With this device, it takes the pain down to a level that I can handle without medication. Even though the TENS units they make these days varies the current and impulse, you still have to watch how much you use it so that your body does not get used to it. Then it would become ineffective.
so far i've used it most of the day - i'm only at 3.5 intensity level and it goes up to 10. i've avoided 3-4 extra pain pills each day and the weather was even bad for a day. i figure i still have a long way to go to build up - i'd rather my body get used to that instead of getting addicted to pain meds. i'll try and be careful - especially 'overdoing' it. strange how it took so long to 'allow' me to have one of these. only came when the suggestion was made to surgically implant a dorsal/spinal column stimulator...yuck
Handshelper and others with chronic pain, it has been proven in several tests that those who suffer with chronic pain rarely become addicted to pain meds, even narcotic ones. I have been on various ones for most of 40+ years and have never had any problems with addiction. Neither has my husband who has suffered with terrible back pain from repeated fractures of the same vertabra over the past 40+ years. He can't take most pain meds anymore tho because they now seem to either affect his heart rate, interfer with sleep or knock him out cold for too many hours to suit him.
We've both used TENS units for varying periods of time with varying results for each of us. I do think they are a good pain control method.
it's been 10 days - i'm still a very happy camper! i made it to penn state and back, sat through a whole day of freshman orientation - and only had to take pain meds once out of precaution...the only downside i've seen so far, is overdoing it - and paying for it the next day...but i think it's done much better than i ever expected and i'm thankful to have it!
Glad the TENS is working for you, HH; my husband tried one, but it was not effective for his back/hip pain (broken back, fusion surgery, etc). By the way, would you mind editing your post above and citing the website where you got that quote? I'd like to read more there, and it's good to cite sources anyway.
Cool - wow, what a neat resource! Thanks. I saw those Quill Mice on your website. Do you use one? They sure look comfortable. My hands are battling me and my doctor and I are on the quest to find out the reason. I wonder if insurance would reimburse for a mouse like that and an ergonomic keyboard.
GW, contact your local durable medical equipment vendors, or you may find one on the web. They stay pretty up-to-date on what insurance will cover in that area. There are also some resources that provide helpful items for disabilities, and can help you find out what is currently available. [FAAST, is one, but I'll have to look up my info on them, I don't remember what the letters stand for. :) ]
i use the quill mouse all the time - if i ever have to use a regular mouse [even an ergonomic one] my hand hurts within 15 minutes. it comes with a 30 day guarantee so it's almost worth trying [it does, however, take a couple days to get used to it especially if you use the clickless software] i was even able to use it after cubital tunnel surgery! i have instructions how to try and get reimbursement for the mouse - the flextend glove also does wonders and is reimburseable as well.
Thank you both for the information! Whatever the outcome of my hands, I need to find ways to make them more comfortable. I hope whatever treatment I end up needing will take care of the burning palm; that's the most troublesome thing other than the thumb joint.
with a burning palm - make sure [burning palm or no burning palm] you do not lean your wrist against a gel pad, edge of your desk or anything like that - and keep your wrist as neutral as possible - and stretch [ah oh - the evangelist in me is coming out!]
I have used a TENS from 1989! I broke my back in 77 and went the route of pain pills, trial and error till 89.
I use the 4 patchs on the lumbar section.
I have the "stays-on" and replys.
The stays on are generally used for three days and need to come off so the skin can breath.
My early problem was over doing.
I ended up turning it up to max ajusted to burst setting.
Go to sleep like that and you can wake up with a blistered back.
Haha, wouldn't think 9 volts could do that.
I also learned to use a flexible back support to help mantain the wires when driving or just being active.
-->The TENS doesn't seem to work for every one.
It's really interesting what the body can become accustomed to!
Author John Gray (of Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus fame) illutrated the body's ability to adjust to increasing levels of stimulus by talking about just that kind of thing. The doctor increased the electrical charge to the needles and it was painful, so the doctor backed off. Ten minutes later, the doctor came back and adjusted the power up even higher than what had previously been painful, but by then John's body had adjusted to it and it did not bother him at all. This went on for some time, each time John was able to withstand greater amounts of electrical stimulus.
Of course, in the book he used this to illustrate the human body's tolerance and handling of stimulation in many areas - stuff we don't go into in a family forum!
i use the 4 pads in the lumbar area too - although i did try 2 on each elbow for a bit. haha - that's what i need, an 8-way system. my DH says he wants a wireless system so he can zap me when he wants to get my attention :>)
what i've noticed so far...i don't like wearing it on hot/humid days. it feels like the pads 'melt' and get sticky/gooey. i have not noticed any 'endorphin' effect, so basically i'm only getting a 'masking' effect. which means i have to be careful to not overdo. interesting to hear that there are 'stay-ons' b/c i was told not to use it during sleep [or driving for that matter - but that's absolutely my worst time, so i do wear it to drive] i still am very thankful that i have it.
Tell your DH there is an implant TENS that's remotely controled. Afriend of mine has one and likes it ok, [after the frist few weeks of cussing it.]
I never use the replys [temp] while active, you're right!
'melt' and get sticky/gooey
I currently use
2"X2.5 (5 CM X 6 CM)
I get mine through the VA but you can read about them here: http://www.empi.com/patient/electrotherapy.cfm/#tens
One of the worse things ever happen to me was having the battery go down on a long trip.
Now, I always carry a back up. Haha, always turn the unit down before replacing it though.
nope - not telling DH that! but that's how i originally got the one i have. they recommended to me that i get the dorsal/spinal column stimulator implant first - how crazy backward is that? i don't like the fact that it takes another surgery - plus, i like moving the electrodes around depending on what hurts worse at a particular time. all of this to avoid having a rizotomy [which is burning the nerves dead] my pt guy lets me have 4 pads for $10. thanks for sending the link - i'm going to ask him about the different sizes. yes - know what you mean about battery dying - but luckily the spare battery was charged.
leaflady - I agree that you don't get addicted to pain meds, even morphine if you need it. Saw that first hand with my mom. She was on morphine for years -died from RA, had it 12 years and never went into remission the whole time. A horrible disease. My dad accidently took her meds one day and slept for over 24 hrs. The doc switched her to a different pain med and there was no adverse reaction at all - the way he explained it was if the body is using it all up, there is nothing left to cause withdrawal symptoms or addiction. Rather mind boggling, all these different drugs...
I used a Tens machine for almost 5 years with fantastiic results. I wa in a serious auto crash and had to learn to walk again. Nothing broken just all soft tissue damagae. I was very lucky.
The Tens and the heating pad were my 2 best friends.
You'll all just have a coniption when you hear what happened to the the Tens. Our insurance company bought and paid for it and did not want it back when I no longer needed it. I tried to give it to any local charity or free clinic for the homeless such, the Red Cross - you name I tried, they all refused. So when we moved to our new house this perfectly working but aged Tens ended up in the dump. It broke my heart and if I had known so many still need to use one and are not particular that is it ancient I would have mailed it off in a heart beat. This makes me so angry at myself - so this scores 2 for the Dump and my DH after our move and 0 for me. DH tossed my older but perfectly working stationary bike into the dump as well. Guess what was one of the first things the Orthopedic Surgeon told me to get after this last knee replacement fiasco? Yep a stationary bike!
Glad to hear the Tens is working so well for so many of you. It sure was a major part of my recovery after my car accident.
Happy July 4!
How are all of you doing with your Tens machines? I was looking on Ebay and thought about all of you. Please post your experiences and what machine you have and what you would change about the machine if you could change anything.
Thanks for any help. My nurse practitioner has taken over my pain management and she wanted me to find out more about the 10s machines. She is finding out how to get my insurance to cover it if they even will.
My back would be where I would be using it for the most part. I have extreme pain in the L4 and L5 area which causes me to have to bend over to relieve the pain or sit down. I feel that if I can get rid of some of this pain that maybe I can finally get my walking exercise once again.
I would like to know what company of Tens you think you would like the best and why. Also how often you use yours and really how well it works for you. Also is your pain from muscle or from bone pain?
my chronic pain - also in L4/L5 and L5/S1 is now primarily caused by facets arthritis - facets are the joints of the vertebrae. Those 2 areas also have herniated discs [torn, bulging, etc] but are under 'control' from cortisone shots. I am most uncomfortable sitting - hehe- so standing and/or lying on my belly is most comfortable for me.
I did no research whatsover on kinds of units. I got what insurance gave me. I think it's a good unit because it has varying frequencies, pulse vs tingle, 2 sets for electrodes AND rechargeable batteries. it's caleed a Maxima II. my brain's pain gate definitely gets confused when i wear it - i love it...only problem as i think i mentionned before is that the patches 'melt' in the heat of the summer!
as you also know, i'm saving pennies to do intense myofascial release therapy - especially on all my 'stomach' scars, because those greatly affect my lower back.
Thanks, Tobi for the help. It is interesting that your back pain comes from the same area yet we have different ways to relieve the pain. This makes me think that maybe my back pain IS from my hip. I will be seeing a surgeon soon for the back pain to have him help me decided which area needs the help. I might yet become the bionic woman at the rate I am going!