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What they are and why they’re a wonderful option for pain treatment
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re struggling with pain of some sort, be it acute pain — that can range from mild to severe, with a duration of up to six months — or chronic pain, which, in turn, is ongoing and lasts for more than six months. When dealing with any sort of persistent painful sensation, it’s good to start looking for treatment options that best suit your needs. With this in mind, we hope to shed some light on the way and introduce you to less intrusive choices that can greatly benefit your body and, ultimately, your recovery. We then look into the rundowns of concepts before heading to the chiropractor electric pulse machine.
The “P” word
First of all, what is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain uses the “simple” definition of pain as being an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage. But, for the sake of this article, let’s stick with an unpleasant feeling that is conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons. So, based on those two definitions, we can unanimously say that pain is, most of all, unpleasant and uncomfortable.
For most of us feeling it, pain is a disease in and of itself. The general knowledge seems to always tell us that it’s a symptom, merely accompanying another separate condition; but take chronic pain, for example: even after the threshold for healing has already been crossed, the feeling persists — and only the feeling persists. It’s morphed into this invisible, heavy monster, following us wherever we go. So, we stop going. We stop doing the things we used to do, and loved to do, in fear of what the monster might do to us if we don’t stay still.
You may be thinking that this description is fairly similar to the description of emotional pain; somewhat irrelevant and dramatic, even, but the truth is that pain must go through a very complex pathway in order to be perceived by our bodies, and that pathway ends in our brain. Nociceptors, nerve endings present everywhere in our bodies — from skin, to muscles, to joints, to bones, to internal organs — send a message through fiber axons, to our spinal cord.
The message says, “stop what you’re doing, this is a possible threatening and dangerous thing.” The spinal cord recognizes the stimuli and sends it over to our brain for processing. It’s a relatively simple and quick mechanism, but we usually forget to think about how we feel about that pain. Every time we experience pain, there’s an emotion tied to it, and if the physical feeling doesn’t go away, jackpot, the emotional feeling doesn’t go away, either.
It’s that bitter reminder that our body has betrayed us; the impotence, the fear of knowing that our one cherished vessel can no longer exist in harmony with our wants and needs. A devastating feeling. And there’s no point in letting that feeling stick around. Then we forward ourselves to what follows: yes, the chiropractor electric pulse machine.
Getting rid of pain
A general scenario walk-through may be that you go to the doctor’s office, explain your symptoms and their duration, — as well as any health conditions you might have that could be associated with those symptoms — the doctor will quickly examine you, applying pressure on your skin and muscles and asking you to rate the pain from one to ten, and possibly even request that you do some other exams to make sure everything is okay.
While all of this is happening, you just wish the pain would go away as soon as possible. You do the exams, return to the doctor’s office for a follow-up consultation, and the pain is still there. The doctor asks you whether you’re allergic to any medication, and ultimately, they prescribe you some pills, — sometimes too strong, sometimes an over-the-counter solution that you’d already anticipated — and you’re off your merry way with a handshake that feels like you’ve been given up on, and a request to come back should anything else happen.
We’ve all been there, and we know that the pills help, but not always consistently. You see, those drugs are, the majority of time, symptom-modifying drugs that will conceal and mask those uncomfortable sensations for a while, and they will not modify your condition or your illness. We also know that those same pills that treat an injury are the pills that could get you feeling like you can’t stop taking them, or even give you some nasty side effects to work on later. It’s a worst-case scenario, sure, but it’s way too common. There are other, better possibilities out there.
Let’s rewrite the tale — you go to your doctor’s office, once again, and they do all the things mentioned above. But, instead of prescribing you oral medication, or in addition to prescribing you oral medication, the doctor also refers you to physical therapy. Physical therapy is one of the allied health professions that uses a range of evidence-based, well, therapies, from kinesiology, to joint mobilization, to shockwave modality, so on and so forth. The physical therapist will aid you in the treatment of conditions such as chronic and acute pain, soft tissue injuries, arthritis and multiple physical impairments derived from numerous causes.
Why is this important? Well, we’ll be focusing on one of those many therapies: electrotherapy — which, put simply, is the use of electric currents passed through the body to stimulate nerves and muscles. The many benefits of this treatment include not only pain relief — shocker, I know — but it also repairs damaged tissue, stimulates muscles and increases sensations as well as muscle strength. In addition to physical therapy, it becomes something akin for chiropractor electric pulse machine in their line of work.
We then move on to what we know as the major chiropractor electric pulse machines:
The two most used chiropractor electric pulse machine: the TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and the EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) units. They’re called Electronic Pulse Massagers, as well. Let us tell you all you need to know about them.
TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
So, the TENS unit, as mentioned earlier, is a device you can buy or even rent, and there is a great amount of options and brands to choose from. Most options fit right in your pocket, which is nice too! TENS devices can range from about US$25 all the way up to US$250 for the more “hi-tech” ones, that offer wireless systems or even hybrid systems, but more on that later. TENS units will stimulate the nerves and basically interrupt that pain reception we talked about earlier. It does so through the application of two pads, or sometimes four pads (each channel consisting of two pads), and the user can tweak the device’s settings to best suit their needs and their level of pain. It can use a higher (>50Hz) frequency or a lower (<10Hz) frequency. Because of the customizable settings, the TENS unit is usually a preferred option for pain reduction and, possibly, pain relief.
In addition to the momentaneous alleviation of the pain during application, the nerve stimulation will also cause natural endorphins to be released, thus maintaining that sensation of relief for a longer period of time even after finishing the session, as endorphins are neuropeptides which interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain, like narcotics do. However, activating those receptors by the body’s natural endorphins does not lead to an addiction or dependence, making it naturally a healthier option — in fact, TENS could probably help you get off the pills that emulate that.
So, there a few things that you should know about the TENS unit aside from all that. First off, it’s not going to work for everyone. In fact, it’s about a 50/50 chance that it will, according to some medical professionals, so maybe renting it out to try it first can be a good choice; or borrowing it from a friend that has it. Secondly, there are some people that cannot use a TENS unit, so refrain from using it if you are:
- Under 16 years of age;
- Someone who has a pacemaker;
- Someone who has metal implants (do not use over the metal implants. Use in other areas is okay — but do not take medical advice from an internet post, please consult your doctor to be 100% sure!)
Some other good things to consider: don’t use it around water (of course), don’t use it around the head area (the back of the neck is okay), stay alert during the session, and most importantly: your doctor should be able to assist you during first use, so you get a clear understanding of how the device works. It is crucial that the user knows how to operate the unit, as pain is non-transferrable. So, it goes without saying that you should always have the manual readily available, and you should definitely give it a good, careful read before even turning the device on.
Lastly, some commonly asked questions can be:
Will the TENS unit cause injuries if used incorrectly? No, not exactly. But this isn’t to say that using it incorrectly is a good choice, either.
Will my body grow accustomed to TENS over time? Probably, but this’ll go away once you stop using it.
Can I leave it longer than 15 minutes per session? Yes — the recommended time will be given by your health care practitioner. Usually, they will recommend one fifteen-minute session for three weeks and no more. You can always consult them again if you feel the need to.
EMS: Electronic Muscle Stimulation
Okay, now we’re gonna touch on EMS. Remember when I said we’d talk about hybrid TENS units? Yeah, so, sometimes those devices also provide an EMS option. EMS is usually customizable, too, and frequencies are adjustable, so it’s the same ease of use (after reading the manual) you’d be getting with a TENS unit; they’re both intended to be used and regulated by none other than yourself. But, if they’re similar enough that they can be “placed” in the same device, what are the things that set them apart?
Well, what EMS does is primarily stimulate the muscles via contractions to encourage muscle growth, recovery and toning, as well as preventing atrophy and increasing restricted motion from muscle disuse. While TENS may sometimes cause the muscles to contract, this is not necessarily its intended purpose. Taking note of the purposes of it as a chiropractor electric pulse machine, there remain variances.
TENS as a chiropractic electric pulse machine is used for treating pain, as it will use its electrical pulses to communicate with the nervous system and prevent your brain from processing those pain signals. Like the muscle contractions with TENS, pain relief can also happen while you’re using EMS — it is, however, a great side effect.
Now that you know the key differences, you should also know that EMS is good for everyday use — when needed, of course — and a much less restricted experience than TENS, however please note that you do not want your body to grow used to either TENS or EMS as both are but an assistance, and once you feel like you no longer require that assistance, you should absolutely give your body the time to recover its functions and work perfectly by itself.
When to use TENS and EMS
Right, so we’ve already established that those treatment options are amazing and, despite requiring some prudence and responsibility during use, TENS and EMS are pretty forgiving, too. Looking into the two as comparison for a chiropractor elesctric pulse machine. Now, what’s left is talking about whether you’re a candidate for this type of therapy or not.
The many conditions TENS can assist with are:
- Acute pain;
- Chronic pain;
- Carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Labor pain;
- Neck pain, foot pain, back pain;
- Multiple sclerosis;
…and many more. Not to sound like a broken record, but asking your doctor whether they think it’d be a good fit for you is always a good idea.
And, finally, the many situations EMS can assist in are:
- Post-surgical recovery;
- Increasing muscle strength;
- Healing muscles (as it increases blood flow in a particular area);
- Decreasing blood clots;
- Working on muscle tone;
- Post-stroke rehabilitation;
…and, again, many more!
So, if by reading this article you feel inclined to give electrotherapy and the chiropractor electric pulse machine a chance, we can only hope your expectations are met!