New studies have found that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator and fibromyalgia therapy can deliver lasting pain management.
While it has been known that there is a reduction in pain at the point of the therapy, a new study has revealed a way to increase the pain tolerance beyond the therapy action for longer relief that is making many people look at the use of TENS machines again.
What is a TENS machine?
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator is more often referred to as a TENS machine.
These are small and portable devices that consist of an impulse generator and two electrodes.
The electrodes are attached to the body and the generator sends an electrical impulse through them to stimulate the muscle and nerves.
They are generally battery operated, and are now made as affordable home units.
How do you use it?
TENS machines are very easy to use. The electrodes are placed in pads that are then put over the area experiencing the pain.
A small electrical current is then sent through the electrodes and it crosses the muscle and nerves from one electrode to the other.
This stimulates the muscle and nerve endings. In studies where the nerves are specifically targeted, this type of stimulation has increased their ability to handle pain and decreased the amount of pain experienced by the person.
The length of time and the rate of the current are set before you begin according to the recommended stimulation rates for that area of your body.
Are there any risks involved?
There are few risks involved with using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator and fibromyalgia therapy.
You want to make sure you follow the directions closely, as too high a charge or improper placement of the electrodes can result in a minor skin burn.
You do not want to use a TENS machine if you have a pacemaker, or use it across the heart/chest region.
If you have a history of seizures you should talk to your doctor before using one as well.
There are special units designed for use on the head, but they are not recommended for home use and have not been studied for relief from fibromyalgia symptoms.
The only other cautions associated with the units are that the pads will need to be changed out after 6 to 8 uses.
Is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator and fibromyalgia a good combination?
To the surprise of many doctors and scientists, there is demonstrable relief from fibromyalgia pain when transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator therapy is used.
The surprise comes from the failure of the TENS devices to provide relief for other muscle conditions, but for those with chronic pain – their ability to disrupt the pain impulse transmission is most effective.
The TENS units have been shown to provide relief from pain during their use, and there is indication that methods of use can be done that extend that pain relief beyond the therapy session too.
To understand how this works, you have to understand the theory of pain management with fibromyalgia.
The theory of pain management with fibromyalgia
When you approach pain management with fibromyalgia the common misconception is that the goal is to eradicate the pain.
Fibromyalgia is very difficult to treat as the pain is chronic and pervasive. There is no means to eliminate the pain, but there are very many different ways that you can reduce the pain levels to manageable amounts so you can do more with your life.
Pain management allows you to then approach lifestyle changes that will also further decrease the pain you experience, and build up resiliency for flare-ups too.
Many people give up on the lifestyle changes because they are still experiencing pain and turn to increasingly higher doses of pain medication for relief.
The risk of the higher doses of pain medication eradicates the short term benefit of their use.
What science found makes it most effective
While studies have found that transcutaneous nerve electrical stimulator and fibromyalgia pain can work together for relief in the very short term, another study looked at how to take that relief and make it last longer.
It has been found that when exercise is combined with the use of the TENS unit, women with fibromyalgia experience longer lasting relief from their trigger pain points then with either done without the other.
Learning how to do fibromyalgia stretching and trigger point exercises can help you to begin building an effective routine.
Use the TENS machine before you do the exercise to loosen the muscle and reduce the pain so you can do more movement. This will allow you to decrease your pain and increase mobility quickly.
Results generally equaled the pain relief provided by low doses of pharmaceuticals once a routine of exercise and TENS use was established.
Other aspects of fibromyalgia management that are needed
In addition to combining exercise and stretching with the use of a TENS machine, studies have also shown that engaging in the alternative and complementary therapies for fibromyalgia can do much to improve the quality of your life.
There are things to avoid and seek out in your daily diet that will help reduce flare-ups, exercise and movement programs designed for those with stiffness and joint pains, stress reduction techniques and natural supplements too.
All of these should be a part of your toolkit for treating and managing your fibromyalgia.
There is no known cure for the disorder, but much more is known about what can be done to make your quality of life better while living with fibromyalgia.
Talking to your doctor about TENS
Talk to your doctor about transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator and fibromyalgia therapies.
There are many different kinds of units available and you can do the therapy at home. There is little risk involved so it can be worth a try.
You want to discuss the result with your doctor as they may have different suggestions for placement and time ranges of the therapy to increase the benefits you receive.