Back Pain Got You Down? TENS Machines to the Rescue

From the high-impact training sessions in the gym to the casual games with your family and friends- such activities can become impossible when back pain strikes. And as much as many muscular pains can be cured with magnesium supplements or natural remedies you can make at home, back pain can be a serious condition that can be caused by many factors and it shouldn’t be brushed off as “just an ordinary pain”.

If you’re struggling with an annoying pain in your back, many doctors will recommend getting a TENS machine for overcoming this condition. If you’re wondering what these machines are, let’s learn a couple of basic things about them.

How Do TENS Devices Work?

TENS Machines to the Rescue

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a type of therapy that uses low voltage electrical current to help you relieve your back pain. These devices consist of battery-powered units and electrodes that should be placed on the surface of your skin at or near the pain spots so they can provide electrical impulses. 

In fact, there are two different theories about how TENS therapy works. The first one states that the electric current stimulates your nerve cells that block the transmission of pain signals to your brain, which modifies your perception of back pain. The other one states that the electric current that stimulates your nerves are raising your endorphins levels which act as natural pain-killing chemicals in your body. 

However, TENS has been shown as very effective in treating many conditions such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, tendinitis, chronic pelvic pain, and back pain is no exception at all.

Benefits of Using a TENS Device

tens machine

If you’re still sceptical about getting a TENS machine for back pain, we put together a couple of the benefits of these units that are worth to be mentioned:

  • A TENS device will significantly decrease your consumption of painkillers and analgesics. And unlike many of the medications used for treating back pain, a TENS device is a one-time investment that will save you a lot of money.
  • Medications for treating back pain can have many side effects, which is not the case with TENS therapy. In fact, TENS therapy is made to cause a natural and very effective response from your body, without any adverse effects that can worsen your condition. 
  • TENS units have been also shown to relieve muscle inflammations and reduce the fatigue you’re your sedentary or dynamic lifestyle.
  • TENS devices can work as natural massagers which stimulates your blood circulation, improves your motor function and even reduces muscle spasms. In some cases, TENS have been shown to improve night’s sleep. 
  • TENS units are completely compact and portable, meaning you can use them everywhere- at home, at work, while you’re travelling etc…

Choosing the Right TENS Device

tens machine

Tempted to hit the market and get a TENS machine for back pain ? Here’s a couple of things you should consider before investing in something that won’t fit your needs and preferences.

Battery Life

As we mentioned before, TENS units work using batteries such as the 9 volts and the 3 AAA ones. And as much as these batteries may seem like the most convenient and practical option, we recommend skipping them. Such batteries will only increase your cost for your TENS therapy, especially if you’re about to practice it on daily basis.

On the other hand, lithium batteries are a better and more recommended option, since you won’t need to replace them every couple of days. These batteries can last for weeks, even months, and they only require recharging instead of throwing them away. This way, you won’t have to deal with the stress of constantly buying and changing dead batteries.

Modes and Power Levels

tens machine

TENS devices aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, different people can suffer from different types of back pain, and different types of pain respond to different electronic pulses and modes. 

Considering this, make sure you buy a TENS machine that can be set to different modes, so you can enjoy different stimulations in all the parts of your back. For this purpose, know that most of the low-end models may limit their performance to one or two modes, but this won’t be a problem as long as you get a high-tech model that offers multiple modes and settings.

The same applies to the power levels of your TENS machine. As much as different people can tolerate different levels of pain, know that your TENS machine should feel intense but it shouldn’t hurt. Low-quality TENS machines also tend to feature only one or two levels of power that are usually not enough to provide you with proper therapy. For this purpose, it’s recommended to choose a machine that can be set to a wide range of power settings, so you can adjust the preferred intensity and get proper treatment.

High-quality and advanced models tend to be more pricey, but don’t forget that they’re a one-time investment that will target your pain spots, stimulate them with the right motions and intensity and by that, make your TENS experience much more enjoyable and effective.

Convenience of Use

Patient applying electrical stimulation therapy on knee joint. Therapist placing electrodes on Knee. Electrical tens.

Using a TENS unit for the first time can be a very frustrating experience, especially if you don’t know how to operate it. This is why you should always opt for one that offers a user-friendly interface and buttons with clear labels.

Also, many of the TENS devices on the market are compatible with smartphones and can be easily connected to apps that allow you to control your TENS sessions from your phone. Such apps can include different pre-sets for different stimulations, adjusting the power levels and the intensity as well as setting a timer that will allow the device to shut off automatically once the session is over.

Except for this, it’s of great help to choose a compact and portable device you can also use away from the comfort of your home. The manufacturers nowadays offer a bunch of different models that don’t take much space, so you can conveniently carry them wherever you go.

Now that you know what to consider, don’t hesitate to hit the market and choose the perfect TENS pain relief unit for yourself. Your back will be thankful.