That TENS unit is not helping your problem. You may be familiar with what is commonly referred to as TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy. You may know someone who uses one or have one yourself. One thing that is commonly misunderstood about this type of treatment is that TENs is only effective for temporary pain relief.
Commonly TENS units are prescribed to those with numerous disorders such as, back pain, sciatica, muscles strains, headaches, and whiplash just to name a few. What is poorly understood is that how TENS works. Simply put, a TENS unit sends an electrical signal to a body part or regions that overrides the pain signal that region is sending to the brain. It is similar to take an over the counter pain reliever, in the fact that it is only treating the pain itself, not the cause of the pain.
These benefits are then only effective as long as the treatment time and do nothing to assist in the healing of the condition. This treatment can possibly be dangerous in the fact that the user may injure the affected area more with the idea that “if it feels better, then I can use it”. A person with a bad back using a TENS unit may think that it is okay to lift something heavy because their back is feeling better. It’s like tuning up the radio in your car to ignore the loud clunking noise the engine is making, not a good idea.
Interferential Current therapy (IFC) is often confused with TEN therapy. Both used alternating electrical impulses to treat soft tissue complaints and feel very similar during treatment. IFC on the other hand has a lasting therapeutic benefit. IFC operates at a higher frequency at 4000Hz with TEN operates at 125Hz which allows for deeper penetration then TENs therapy. The higher frequency of the IFC has less resistance penetrating skin which allows for a more comfortable treatment for the individual.
The prolonged treatment effects of IFC comes from its ability to improve circulation to the treatment area. With this effect IFC is able to treat edema, inflammation, and reduce healing time. This can provide treatment to acute and chronic injuries. Some common conditions that benefit from IFC are low back pain, pain from arthritis, sprains/strains, and headaches.
IFC also have similar temporary pain relief benefits that TENs delivers during treatment. Both treatments are safe effective methods for treating pain, but please consult with a physician before using either as a home therapy. Proper assessment by your Chiropractor or M.D. can ensure the safest most effective treatment.