Adventures in Pain Mangement: a TENS unit really helps


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/01/adventures-in-pain-mangement.html


#2

It has really positive Amazon reviews too, which is usually a good sign.

I always had visions of Bruce Lee for these devices:

Next time you see jlw and he’s super ripped, you’ll know why.


#3

Read “Every Breath You Take” by Ann Rule. The man behind the TENS figures in it prominently.


#4

I have had amazing experiences with a TENS unit. Cured my chronic tennis elbow in a day, fixed my patellar tendonitis too.


#5

Ever have that test where they stick long ultra thin needles into your muscles and then shock you so they can see how well your nerves work? It’s horrible - I left the table soaked in sweat.


#6

Ye gods, that’s a harrowing account.

Been there, done that, but never quite that bad.

Finally got the lumbar epidural steroid injection, and I’ve been (nearly) symptom-free for a decade or more [knock on wood emoji]

Thank you for sharing your experience with the TENS unit. I hope your need for it is rare, but that it continues to serve you well in the future.


#7

I’ve had that twice. Once did nothing. Second time I thought I was going to die. Haven’t let them try again.


#8

Yes.

I suffered from Bell’s Palsy a few years back and had to undergo facial EMG. Never would I ever want anyone subjected to that. It sucked.

TENS seems to offer some benefit if applied correctly. Someone close to me suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis and TENS helps on especially bad days.

The real issue IMHO is a lack of sufficient training on pad placement - you’re not going to see benefits if you don’t put the electrodes in the proper locations (because you won’t stimulate the muscles you intend to).

Therapeutic acupuncture (that is, acupuncture that you then run an electrical current through) essentially attempts to accomplish the same thing, just with supervision and higher current.


#9

Here in the “United” Kingdom, TENS units can be prescribed on the national health if you’re pregnant (and maybe for other things). Our doctor gave my wife one to use when she was in labour. Didn’t do much good though. It varies a lot from person to person she was told.

Back pain is super weird and like uniquely painful. Everyone seems to have their own treatment. With me it was touching my toes, squatting, or that yoga sphinx position that the osteopath called some German name. Pain killers didn’t do much at all in the longer term for me.


#10

After another 11.47h work at a desk to small for me, additional 2h commuting and 45 min of breaks in total my back hurts in sympathy to yours.

I had a lumbago attack three years ago. I haven’t fully recovered, but I also am terrible at doing any exercise. I write and code for a living, mostly. And I read and write in my free time.(Seriously, I can totally understand why we, as a species, are ruining this planet.) Maybe I should try out zapping myself. Considering that I know what’s bad and what’s good for me, electric shocks might be a motivation…


#11

I did that. After they were done I convinced the guy to leave them in so I could practice making the theremin like speaker go up and down. He thought I was nuts. I probably am. Painful but fun.


#12

I don’t mean to be rude, but honestly this astounds me. You thought electrical stimulation of muscle tissue was “voodoo”? Scientists have been doing this for over a hundred years, I’m pretty sure, and physicians claim to have been doing it for thousands of years (using electric eels, no lie).

Holy crap. No. Nobody does that. Seriously, you are the first person I have ever heard of doing that. Typically the TENS unit says in the instructions, on the box, and on a removable sticker on the unit itself not to do that.

People on these boards think I’m foolishly bold to test live AC wires with a dry thumb and forefinger. I would never dream of turning on a TENS unit with the dial already turned up. Always use the lowest setting that provides therapeutic effect, don’t overstimulate because it could compromise the effectiveness of future treatments.

But hey, I am glad you found some relief, I use TENS myself to relieve strained muscles in my neck and lower back which I sometimes get from particularly bad migraines. I have this unit and use these pads; it’s not as good as the dorm-refrigerator-sized unit at the local hospital, but it can eventually force a locked muscle to release, and seems to desensitize the sore points pretty quickly.

My sympathies to both of you, that is a truly terrible disease. I have a dear friend who is a 3rd generation sufferer, his father and grandfather both died of it. I’d guess about a fifth of his spine is fused at this point. But for the last couple of years he has been on a injected medication (which requires refrigerated storage, so camping trips are logistically challenging) that seems to have completely stopped further progress of the syndrome. If your friend hasn’t heard of any such thing, let me know and I’ll find out the name of the medicine, although I have no idea if it works for everyone as well as it does for my own friend.


#13

They have - it’s probably from a class of meds called Biologics. They’re on their third one so far. No progression of the disease (yay!) but also no reduction of pain (which is supposed to be the other effect of the medication). They’re incredibly expensive and delicate medications because they literally contain other human cells with various levels of adjustment.

Totally reminds me of either the anti-agapic from B5 or the substance from Jupiter Ascending :slight_smile:


#14

That sounds like the stuff. Yeah, no effect on my friend’s pain levels either, but he’s had increasingly worse musculo-skeletal petrification for 30 years, so stopping that nightmare is far more important than ameliorating the pain.

Or stroon, the Santaclara drug, harvested of the great sick sheep of Old North Australia.


#15

I had a pretty good muscle spasm (in my rear, no less) a year ago that literally crippled me, a tens unit was instrumental in getting it gone. I was almost addicted to that thing.


#16

I am a homebound Iraq veteran.i broke 9 places in my back and blew out 7 disc.i have been through injections, nerve blocks, physical therapy, pain medication and yes a tens unit.the unit did provide some relief but became less affective after a few years.now some 18 years later I can not use one at all due to the fact that I have a pacemaker. I wish I could still use it. In these days of Drs either not giving out any meds or going to prison for giving meds.if your pain can be managed by a unit. I say go for it.


#17

I hurt my back in a car accident and for 10 years I had on again off again sciatica. Sometime my back would “go out” for seemingly no reason and I’d crawl to the chiropractor for relief. I also tried TENS. Then I started seeing an osteopath, basically a GP that also does spinal manipulation month other things. He would put me on my back with two big, wet sponges under me connected to the mother of all TENS units and zap all of my muscles. That wasn’t to relieve the pain but to loosen everything up enough to adjust. Worked better than plain chiro. Then the last chiropractor I saw before I moved away said “well your left leg is a little shorter, that’s why your hips are out of whack”. Duh, they all said that. I’d broken my leg when I was 18 and still growing. Then he said what two other chiropractors and the osteopath never said: “Let’s put a lift in your shoe so your legs are equal length”. 12 years and my back never went “out” again.


#18

I have a TENS unit sitting around because I realized it was not a good way to get a Cranial Electric Stimulation (CES) unit on the cheap. Turns out the TENS puts out something like a thousand times as much power as a CES machine so I had to feather the dial at the low end and hope I didn’t slip my hand and fry my brain by turning it up any higher. Feels so annoying to spend $600 on a CES machine that is actually simpler than my $30 TENS unit, but I suppose cheaper than fixing a fried brain.

Maybe I’ll give it a go on my back!


#19

#20

Frickin’ SOLD, man. SOLD. runs toward ebay