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TENS experiences?

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    TENS experiences?

    This topic has been mentioned here and there over the years, but I thought I'd bring it up again and give it its own thread. TENS units have been around for years, mostly for "normal" pain, but some people have tried them for problems with neuropathic pain. I can only vouch for it helping some with post-surgical and peripheral nerve pain to some extent. I know some people do not have a positive experience when they've tried it for central pain, but I wanted to ask if some folks can pitch in with their personal experiences.

    Keep in mind that there are various types of TENS therapy, with traditional TENS, EMS, and interferential TENS, among others, so it would be nice if you're able to remember what kind you tried.

    I have seen TENS units decrease central pain, but not take it away totally. I am not sure what type we used- it was awhile ago. I can not remember the types of injuries it was more successful on, but I do seem to remember that it helped people who had incomplete injuries more than those with complete injuries.

    I am sorry that I can't be more helpful. Maybe someone with experience using them will chime in.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


      David, I tried a TENS machine in rehab for my SCI when I first started developing the symptoms of central neuropathic pain. I'm not sure what type it was, but it was hand-held, battery-powered, with only 2 leads and a control for changing the frequency and/or stength. Anyway, it did nothing for my pain and a lot of the problem I had with it was that my pain is primarily 'at injury' level (hips) and therefore, because I have no sensation at this location I couldn't feel what was going on with the TENS and I wasn't able to determine if I had it adjusted correctly.

      "Wheelie Wanna Walk!"


        My experience has been positive with my TENs unit.

        It keeps a lid on a specific, suddenly recurring, piercing pain on the inside of my right thigh.

        My pain mgmt doc and I refer to it as 'the ice pick'. Seems to me what an ice pick jabbed through the leg would feel like. Sometimes it hits so hard my vision narrows, and blurs around the edges, and all I can hear is a ringing in my ears for anywhere from a couple to maybe 20 seconds.

        Then, it fades as quickly as it came.

        Never been able to decrease the intensity of the pain, but have had moderate success on frequency (working theory it's a spasm, deep in there. I'm partially flaccid and partially toned, different muscle to muscle.)

        TENS unit, however, reduces the duration by stopping the pain as soon as I turn it on, provided the pads are in the correct location. One right above my pointy hip bone, and the other up on the luv handle.

        I figured out early on, by whacking on my leg in frustration/desperation when it happened, that tapping a finger on the tip of my hip bone sent an electrical zap down the inside of my leg, to my foot, and when that happened the pain was gone, for that instant.

        So, I took to tapping, furiously, on my hip bone to keep the 'zap' repeating quick enough so that was all I felt, no ice pick.

        Replace tapping with the 'buzz' of the TENs and you kind of get the idea of how it helps.

        Some days it kicks off several times an hour, others only once, or sometimes not at all.

        Until we figure it out, on those 'several times an hour' days I sport the TEns hooked up, ready to go. When the ice pick hits, I let out a deep breath as I flick the switch on the TENS, then go right back to whatever I was doing.

        Pain gone, rather replaced, by a soothing electrical tingle down the inside of my leg.

        ~30sec later I switch it off.

        Strange, maybe even unique, but works for me!
        "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

        "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty


          Thanks for that info, Dale. That's interesting, that you obtain a benefit from such a short duration of having it switched on. I've only used TENS for post-op pain after my shoulder surgery and it was comforting then to help when my shoulder was "unhappy" during the course of the day. I wish I would have had it in the days after my surgery when the pain was the worst, but it didn't come along until a few months later when I bought one on my own while I was in PT. The electronic buzz was pleasant enough I was inclined to leave it on, sometimes for hours at a time.