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Everything You Need To Know About TENS, A Therapy For Pain Relief

Everything You Need To Know About TENS, A Therapy For Pain Relief

Electricity is nothing short of a magic (and it is not at all fake for a magic). It has changed the world and our lives for good. Electricity has been used, since its birth, in the field of human treatment. TENS therapy is one of those treatment methods which makes a brilliant use of electric current. It is by far the most popular electrotherapy in the field of physical therapy.

Shock treatments are extensively used for a number of brain and nerve related ailments. Zapping the brain for electrical stimulation is well known to the general public.

TENS Therapy works pretty much on the same principle of electrical stimulation of the brain or spinal cord and it is rapidly gaining recognition as an effective treatment for acute and chronic physical pain and discomfort.

Here’s all that you need to know about the TENS.

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1. What is TENS? How does it work?

TENS is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which is a treatment for physical pain. The theory is to send an electric current through the nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain, which in turn interferes with the pain signals scrambling them and ultimately reducing pain. TENS may also help the body to produce more endorphin – a natural painkiller and change the way the brain responds to pain signals.

It uses a small, low-voltage battery powered machine to supply electrical current that travels along the nerve fibers in the affected area of the body, disrupting the pain signals traveling along the same nerves and hence, relieving pain.

The machines are called TENS units (generally of a size of a pocket radio) and usually have two electrode pads to attach to the skin. Consumer TENS units allow to configure the machine to different settings to adjust the intensity and flow of current, as required by the patient.

2. What is it used for?

TENS is used to treat pain and discomfort caused by several different types of illnesses and a wide range of conditions including arthritis, back pain, neck pain, muscle spasms, knee pain, period pain, etc. People also use it as a method to reduce acute pain caused by sport injuries and even to relieve pain during labor.

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It is also commonly used by cancer patients as a means to reduce chronic pain.

3. How is it used?

TENS units are small and lightweight, designed for portability and use on the move. They can be clipped to the belt, put in a pocket or held in a hand and can be used while working.

To use it, the electrodes are attached to the skin in the area experiencing pain and the electric current is turned on with the right setting. It is important where the electrodes are put for the maximum benefit from TENS. The best way to position the electrodes is to attach them to the outer edges of the affected area. Make sure the machine is switched off before you place the electrodes on the skin.

The need of intensity and frequency may vary among individuals so make sure to turn up the pulse generator high enough to feel the tingling sensation but below the level where you feel pain. Adjusting the settings correctly for individual conditions is crucial to take the maximum benefit from TENS.

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There are hundreds of different types and brands of TENS machines available in the market these days. Make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use the unit properly.

4. How safe is it? Does it have side effects?

Electrical Nerve Stimulation- that might sound worrying to some people, but rest assured; it is nothing like getting electrocuted involuntarily. Consumer TENS units just don’t have enough juice in them to be dangerous enough. The worst that could happen with TENS is mild shock from faulty devices or mishandling the TENS unit. TENS can be used as long as one wants and unlike prescription drugs, it does not have the danger of overdose.

Doctors generally consider it to be safer to relieve pain than the drugs which may have side effects. TENS comes with far lesser side effects than the drugs for pain relief. Skin burns and irritations are reported rarely in some people. For most people, TENS has no serious side effects or no side effects at all.

5. How effective is it?

The effectiveness of TENS isn’t backed by any scientific evidence, rather is based on individual experiences. It is not a guaranteed solution for pain relief and it may not help some individuals sometimes. Some researchers have concluded that it works no better than a placebo.

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This seems rather odd for such a popular therapy, but many individuals have found TENS helpful for them despite the messy evidences.

6. Who cannot use it?

It is better not to opt for TENS if the cause of pain is unknown. Always seek medical advice first. TENS is not suggested to pregnant women, to those who have metal or electrical implants like pacemaker or defibrillator, to those who have skin conditions and to those with epilepsy and heart problems.

7.Are all TENS units alike?

There are various types and brands of TENS machine available in the market so choosing a TENS unit can get tricky. Not all of them are alike. The most common type of TENS unit comes with two electrode pads. There is another acupuncture-like TENS unit with tiny needles through which the electric current flows. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to choose the right kind of TENS unit for your specific conditions.

8. What cautions must one take when using a TENS unit?

It’s an ‘electrical machine’ which, by nature, shouts “caution”.

The electrode pads should not be placed on broken or damaged skin, for the electrical current may cause further damage to it. Do not place the electrode pads anywhere close to eyes. Also, the electrodes should not be placed over the front or side of the neck or in the mouth. The machine should be kept as far away as possible from water. Do not use it in the bath or shower or while driving or operating any kind of machinery. Always, safety first!

Featured photo credit: Wikipedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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