TENS is an anagram for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator.
These devices send small electrical pulses through several electrode patches that adhere to the skin. When the electrodes are placed around a painful area, an electrical pulse arcs through the target area, causing a slight buzzing or pulsing sensation.
This electrical pulse causes your body to activate its natural self-defense mechanisms, releasing endorphins and pain-blockers to the area so that you no longer feel the inflammation that you used to.
That’s great, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical pain relief! How long can you use a TENS unit? How frequently should you use it?
When used correctly, TENS is a great way to train your brain to ignore pain so that you can power through movements that once caused you far more pain. In addition to this, TENS can also stimulate blood flow to the area, which can speed up the healing process, especially in hard-to-reach joints that are naturally slow-healing.
However, the one thing that makes some people a bit nervous in regards to using a TENS unit is that it’s literally shocking you.
In today’s article, we’ll discuss how long can you use a TENS unit, how frequently you should use it, and we’ll cover some of the other common safety concerns that first-time users often ask.
How Long Can You Use A TENS Unit?
Prior to being released to the public, TENS was only performed in a doctor’s clinical setting. Today, anybody can purchase a TENS unit and use them in the safety and comfort of their own home. While this has contributed to a lot more people having access to this awesome treatment, it also opens the door for many of those people to overuse the device.
As with most things in life, too much of a good thing can often be harmful. This is the same case when using a TENS unit- a device that sends electricity through your body.
Most professionals recommend using your TENS units for 20 to 30-minutes at a time. This is typically enough to stimulate enough endorphins and pain-blockers to give you substantial relief and muscle relaxation.
How Long Will The Pain Relief Last?
According to the most recent studies, relief can last anywhere from 18 minutes to well over 24 hours. The reason for the vast difference in relief times is due to the fact that every person’s body has a different response to both time and pain.
For example, some individuals possess a strong response to pain. These people are far more likely to be able to naturally resist the electrical pulses of the TENS unit. Therefore, they will either need to use the unit at a higher voltage, or they will have to perform longer more strenuous sessions.
In some studies, those with minor joint pain or back pain and a limited history of pain response may experience pain relief for up to a day or t
wo. However, those with more severe pain or who possess a higher degree of response to pain may only receive a few hours of pain relief after using a TENS unit.
What’s The Best Way To Use A TENS Unit?
One of the most common mistakes people make while administering TENS to themselves is that they do it while sitting or lying down. While it can have some limited effect while your body is in a relaxed position, you’ll get a lot more benefit out of it when using it in motion.
For instance, if you have a certain target area in your shoulder that tends to flare up while you’re lifting weights or doing pull-ups, you’ll get the most benefit by using your TENS while you’re performing that exercise.
Use the 2 to 4 electrodes that come with your device to encircle and isolate the area that’s flaring up, turn the power up until you can feel the pulse, and then begin performing slow, calculated, and specific repetitions of the exercise.
As your muscles flex and pinch the nerves, the electrical pulse from the TENS unit will “scramble” the signals that your body is trying to send to your brain. This, in turn, will reduce the pain that you feel, and may even cause prolonged relaxation of the problem area.
How Often Should I Use A TENS Unit?
Since the device operates solely based on electricity, you don’t have to worry about any bruising, tearing, or inflammation occurring during or after use. This makes it an efficient device to use every day while you’re at the gym or doing your own home workouts and stretching.
Can I Use A TENS Unit Every Day?
One of the best things about a TENS unit is that you can use them every single day. Unlike deep tissue massage and other more invasive forms of therapy, TENS does not cause any lasting damage or pain. As soon as you turn the device off and remove the electrodes from your body, you’ll no longer feel the pulsing.
In fact, if you’re experiencing considerable amounts of pain, you should use TENS every day
As we mentioned earlier, though, you may be able to get up to 48 hours of pain relief or reduction with just a single 30-minute session.
If you feel no pain, then using TENS may prevent you from feeling pain in the coming days. While you may not opt for your regular half-hour session, you may benefit from a shorter 5 to 10-minute session for maintenance.
Can I Use A TENS Unit Multiple Times Per Day?
If you’ve just sustained an injury or you’re dealing with a slow recovery time, then you may benefit from using your TENS unit multiple times per day. As we said, you’ll never have to worry about sustaining any lasting damage from your TENS, as long as you’re using it according to instructions.
Therefore, you should be able to use it multiple times per day to help you manage pain levels. There’s also a considerable chance that it will help you heal even faster as well!