async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: 10 Reasons TENS is a Great Option for Managing Pain

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

10 Reasons TENS is a Great Option for Managing Pain

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with compensation, an OMRON TENS Therapy Max power relief unit, and an OMRON Focus TENS Therapy for Knee unit in exchange for my evaluation and honest opinion. 

An avid long distance runner for most of my life, a few years ago, I started struggling with running. I could barely run a mile or two without having to stop to walk. A year earlier, I endured a prolonged bout of plantar fasciitis. There had been ongoing trouble with my left big toe joint, forcing me to alter my stride so I didn't land on it. Then a Baker's cyst popped up behind my left knee. After consulting the sports medicine specialist on and off for a couple of years for all these issues, she put the pieces of the puzzle together. On the morning I was scheduled to have diagnostic blood work drawn, I woke up with a painful, swollen right toe.

Being a medical provider is a blessing and a curse. That morning, I knew what my blood work was going to show--and it did, definitively, with a sky high rheumatoid factor and other abnormal numbers in my results.

I had rheumatoid arthritis.

After receiving the news, I shed many tears but was determined to get on top of my diagnosis. I was fortunate to be able to obtain an appointment with an amazing rheumatologist within a week of my diagnosis. She told me that I had an aggressive form of the disease which required aggressive treatment. I was started on steroids to get my symptoms under control, as well as methotrexate, a medication used to manage the inflammation associated with RA. She also told me I could take NSAIDS for my pain.

Over time, the methotrexate was stopped and I was started on an arthritis prescription for long-term use, which I continue to take to this day. My disease activity is well-controlled, but I do deal with pain and stiffness on a daily basis. I've been able to continue running and other activities as my body dictates. I'm not a fan of taking pain medication. I prefer to try non-pharmacological pain management strategies, such as ice, heat, compression, massage, and stretching before resorting to taking medication.



May is Arthritis Awareness Month and I've been trying the OMRON TENS units for my aches and pains. TENS stands for transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. TENS isn't a new therapy--it's been used by physical therapists for over 40 years to alleviate chronic, acute, and arthritic pain. As a nurse, I've seen TENS used in many patients I've cared for over the years. TENS works by sending stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin and along nerve strands.

Scientific studies suggest that TENS may help block pain signals from reaching the brain, trigger the body to release endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, and improve blood circulation to affected areas. OMRON was the first company to develop FDA-cleared TENS devices for use in the home.

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic and acute pain, as well as arthritis, and studies show that close to 80% of these folks would prefer drug-free pain management options. Many studies have proven the effectiveness of TENS in the management of pain. You know I love me some science, so this makes me happy.

Why consider TENS as part of a pain management regimen? I've got 10 reasons:

1. TENS may help you reduce intake or eliminate pain medication. Besides increasing endorphins, TENS also has been shown to reduce pain through a variety of pathways in the body.

2. There are little or no side effects from the TENS device. While you can feel the impulses generated by the TENS unit, you are able to adjust the intensity to a level that you can tolerate.

3. The TENS device is non-invasive. Both devices I received are applied to the skin with reuseable self-adhesive pads. You apply the pads to your skin and turn it on. Easy peasy.

4. The TENS devices are easy to use. A quick start guide came with both devices and I was up and running in minutes.
  • The OMRON TENS Max Power Relief device uses 2 AA batteries. The pads are applied to the skin adjacent to the area of pain. Electrodes are attached to the pads. There is a controller with a variety of setttings for different areas of the body. The intensity is easy to adjust. 
  • The OMRON Focus TENS therapy for Knee device is wireless and comes with a charger. The device settings are customizable as well. 
5. The TENS devices are portable and discrete. Both devices come with a small carrying case which can easily be tucked into a purse or briefcase. The OMRON Focus TENS therapy for Knee device is small, wireless, and can be worn under clothing.

I used the OMRON TENS Max Power device for some SI joint pain
while Cocoa monitors me in child's pose 
6. TENS devices are affordable. If you purchase directly from OMRON, the devices come with a one year limited warranty.

7. You can purchase TENS devices over the counter without a prescription.

8. TENS may reduce inflammation, which makes it especially useful in arthritic conditions.

9. TENS is also useful for acute muscle and joint pain. After Saturday's 10 miler, I had some right knee pain. I applied the Focus TENS therapy for Knee device and dialed it up. After 15 minutes of TENS, I took it off and was pleasantly surprised that my knee pain was gone! The relief lasted for several hours and when it returned, the pain was much less intense than before.

Using the OMRON TENS Focus Knee device
10. TENS is effective for a variety of chronic conditions. Besides arthritis, TENS has been shown to be effective in other chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and spinal cord injury. As more practitioners look to alternative ways to manage pain, TENS is being studied for other conditions as well.

I'm currently using both my OMRON TENS devices and will have a full review posted in 2 weeks. Thanks to OMRON for the opportunity to try out their devices!

Have you heard of TENS? What is your experience with TENS? Would you try a TENS device to help manage your pain?


TENS is a great alternative to pain medicine! /via @oldrunningmom @OMRONhealthUS #painrelief #healthcareselfcare #arthritis #arthritisawarenessmonth #running #runchat

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahJenRachelSandra, and Lisa.

 


30 comments :

  1. What a great recommendation! Over the last two years, I have been having acute joint pains (shoulders, elbows, wrists). Perhaps every two weeks, I get it in the evening and the next morning it's gone. If it gets worse, I'll go to the doctor. Meanwhile, TENS sounds like a good solution!

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    1. It's really been a great adjunct to some of the other modalities I use! I'll do anything to avoid medication.

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  2. Thanks for the review.

    Hopefully I won't need one...but who knows?

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  3. Pretty sure my physical therapist used some sort of TEMS when she dry needled my right high hamstring tendon. Otherwise, no I haven't used it.

    I did get a massage gun last month, though. Wow that thing is amazing and I love it dearly. It's much easier to get into the tight area with the gun compared to foam rolling.

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    1. I've heard great things about the massage gun. I also will use a lacrosse ball to get into those tight areas. Ouch!

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  4. I have used my TENS machine for help with pain relief for my lower back and knee. I also love that it's so portable because I would often pack it in my suitcase for racecations.

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    1. The knee unit I have is wirelesss, so I can walk around the house with it on!

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  5. I used a TENS unit when I had PT for my hamstring and I loved it. Have been tempted to buy a home unit because I think there would be a lot of good uses for it. Maybeeeeee someday soon? Looking forward to your full review!

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  6. I really need to look more into that. I know you said spinal injury - my husband has degenerative disc disease and I wonder if that would help with some of his pain? To his credit, he's (FINALLY) decided to listen to me and incorporate more stretching and some core strengthening exercises into his life and (IMAGINE THAT) he's noticed an improvement. lol. But, I know the problem will never be solved and even toweling off can put him on the floor. I need to do some research. Thanks for sharing this!!

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    1. My dad has severe spinal stenosis and before he had surgery, he used his TENS with good relief of his pain!

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  7. Years ago, I saw a chiro for awhile and he put something like this on my lower back...wonder if it was a similar treatment? I'm all for avoiding pain meds as well, this looks like a great alternative!

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  8. I would definitely try something like this! I am pretty sure Ive used a TENS unit at my chiropractor awhile ago and it was really helpful. Looking forward to hearing more about your experience with it!

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    1. So far, I've had great relief with both units! They came just in time for all my niggles...

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  9. I am all for non invasive options like this for chronic and acute pain. Why not? Can't hurt. I've been using something similar from Powerdot that sounds like it works the same way. I just need to remember to use it!

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  10. What a great alternative to pain medication. This definitely sounds like the way to go!

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  11. Thanks for the information, Wendy. I have never heard of TENS before but anything that reduces or eliminates the need for medication is worth it in my book.

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    1. It's the first time I've tried it and it really has been helping!

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  12. I have a small TENS unit I used to use regularly, but most of the problems I used it for have cleared up so now it's gathering dust. I do think it's a great, affordable option -- especially now that so many other things you just can't do.

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    1. The TENS units have been a nice addition to my pain relief toolbox!

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  13. I don't use my TENS unit as much as I should. By the time I think about it, then I have to pull it out and charge it and ... well... you know how it goes. It always does make things feel better.

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  14. I'm so interested in this. I've had chiropractors use TENS on me before but I usually scoot away from the guys at health expos that try to sell the home version. It's nice that Omron is a brand I've heard of so I really want to give it a try.

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    1. I had heard of OMRON from working as a nurse and that was very reassuring to me! They've been great to work with for this campaign too.

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  15. I'm all for non-invasive treatments and, like you, I'm not a big fan of taking pain medication. I'm really interested in learning more about this for my hip. Sounds like it's working well for you - looking forward to you update in a couple of weeks.

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  16. I don't know if it is the same thing but I received something similar years ago from my chiropractor. Now that I think about it, I cannot remember why she got it for me. It still works and I've used it here and there but now have been using more my massage gun.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

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