TENS machines

TENs machine modes of operation for lower back pain and sciatica

TENS machines

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Tens machines are widely used by lower pack pain and sciatica sufferers as a means of obtaining pain relief. Many medical practitioners and physio therapists often prescribe the use of Tens machines as a means of controlling back pain. It is impossible to cover every model of TENS machine so hopefully by describing how I use my own TENs machine you will be able to choose comparable programs suitable for your particular tens machines.

How to use your TENS machine and what programs to select

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A tens machine works by transmitting electrical impulses via special electrode pads though the skin.

The placement of the TENs electrode pads is carefully selected to target the problematic areas which are causing pain. The theory is that the electrical impulses from the machine modifies the pain signals which are transmitted to the brain via the nerves. You should experience a slight tingling sensation when the machine is in use. Many users find that they may have to wait a few weeks before obtaining effective results.

The user manuals which come with your TENs machine will give recommendations on how long you should use the machine. Personally, I use my TENS machine for several hours in the evening - but some people may use their TENs machine several times throughout the day to obtain maximum relief.

TENs machine Modes of Operation

Most machines have several modes including ones you can program yourself. The modes fall into three main groups:

Conventional mode

This is usually between 50Hz - 200Hz with a pulse width of about 200uS, this mode is used to give rapid pain relief.

Burst mode

This provides a similar effect to acupuncture, with the machine delivering short bursts of pulses. This mode usually gives longer lasting pain relief.

Modulation mode

This mode is similar to burst mode except that the pulse width is continuously cycled to give a massage like sensation.

Placing the electrode pads

Placement of the electrodes or pads is very important and may require some experimentation to achieve maximum relief. Most TENs machines come with a guide to help place the electrode pads. Generally speaking the pads should be placed relatively close to the source of the pain or the accu  points you want to stimulate. Your physiotherapist or health care practitioner should advise you as to the most effective position to place the pads.

How I use my TENs machine

I use my TENs machine for about 3-4 hours each evening on the following settings:

Conventional mode 120Hz at 50uS for 1 hour.

Program mode 3Hz at 250uS for 2-3 hours.

Modulation mode for 1 hour.

If at first you don't succeed, experiment with the electrode placement and the programs you use to see what works best for you. Ensure you do your experimentation in a controlled manner.

More information about TENs machines

To find out more you might wish to read my short blogg on TENs machines