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A TENS unit, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a small battery operated machine that makes use of electrical current to decrease body and muscle pain.
Electrodes are attached to the affected area and then an electrical current is passed through the electrodes. The underlying skin and muscle are affected by a tingling sensation that disrupts pain signals in the process from reaching the pain center in the brain.
Also Read: What is Tens Therapy?
Introduction to athlete’s fitness and injury
Every athlete participates in some type of sports activity all the time. Irrespective of one’s athletic prowess, it is natural for athletes to be engrossed in their sporting activity, be it a fast-paced game of tennis, football, or a long bike ride.
With constant practice, these athletes are bound to be affected by some niggles and aches in the long run. Sports enthusiasts are not wary of pain but have to learn to take it in their stride.
However, here’s a fact: The more you play fast-paced sports, you are bound to face the pain of some sort if you do not have the physical ability to keep up. The pain would keep mounting with every strain you put on a particular body part that is weak enough to withstand the rigours of the sport.
The pain might start as an occasional twinge or ache but then it continues to crop up in certain joints and muscles, at any point of time. It is important for such sportspersons to seek pain relief as quickly as possible.
Some resort to painkiller pills that provide some respite, but genuine athletes would mostly avoid them. They would rather prefer an organic approach, without any potential health hazards. A body can cope with as much pain as it can before it gets worse.
Other than medication, athletes can rely on Tens Units and muscle stimulators for better care of their predicament.
How do Tens machines work?
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is one of the most commonly used forms of electrostimulation for pain relief. Numerous clinical reports indicate the use of TENS for ailments such as low back pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain, and the like.
The method of pain reduction was initiated in 1965 and involves closing down of “gates” between the spinal cord and pain centers of the brain, thereby inhibiting pain through the process.
When pain occurs, the information is carried by C fibers up to the T cells, allowing pain transmission right into the cortex that interprets the pain signals. By closing the gate, one can prevent the transmission of nociceptive information to the cortex and thus avoid interpretation of pain signals.
A TENS unit includes electric signal generators, a battery, and electrodes. They are programmable units, and the generators can stimulate the nerves with variable current strengths and pulses.
The preferred waveform helps avoid electrolytic effects of unidirectional current. It also drives transcutaneous electrical stimulation modalities that aid in stemming the flow of pain.
Is Tens Safe to Use?
Some athletes rely on medication, as they use anti-inflammatory drugs to help them cope with pain. Taking consistent medication though is dangerous in the long term. Naproxen, for example, is a drug ingredient that can create circulation and intestinal problems. The habit-forming drugs are also a problem for athletes in the long run.
Tens unit, on the other hand only takes help of electrical stimulation to cause muscles to contract. By placing electrodes at the point of pain, a physical therapist can make use of appropriate muscle fibers to get the pain to fade away.
Rapidly contracting muscles aid in strengthening the affected area. The physical therapist can change settings for affecting forceful or gentle contractions. While boosting muscle strength, the contraction also promotes blood supply to the pain area that needs healing.
What are Doctors’ views on usage of Tens Unit?
The TENS unit is highly recommended by doctors owing to the fact that electrotherapy has been used extensively for relieving patients from the source of pain relief.
In fact, many medical professionals agree that electrical impulses from a TENS unit can release endorphins and enkephalin naturally in the body, that even elevate the mood and decrease pain at the same time.
TENS is hence named as one of the most effective treatments for pain relief for athletes. This endorsement by doctors underscores the effectiveness and medicinal value that TENS units can offer to relieve pain.
Benefits of Tens Units
- As time progresses, many athletes suffer from chronic pain. Tens Units and physical therapy can work as a strong alternative to pain medication.
- Tens Units can provide immediate relief with help from electrical impulses. Essentially the unit subdues the pain signals from reaching the brain, thus relieving patients from the pain
- The Tens unit can be used anywhere on the body by just attaching silver electrodes to pain-afflicted areas.
- One can control pulse rates, pulse widths, and all the frequencies for providing relief to the patient.
- Alternatively, athletes can make use of muscle stimulators to treat chronic pain and speed muscle recovery after an injury. It prevents muscle atrophy too.
Supplementing Physical Therapy with Tens units
In addition to using TENS unit at home, one can use the same in between physical therapy sessions, since it serves as an excellent supplement to the therapy. The TENS unit facilitates movements of the body by easing the pain and works to make your body move freely and easily.
A TENS unit alleviates pain, drives ease of movement and provides a better quality of life, especially for professional athletes. TENS hence is the superior choice for athletes especially those who suffer from injuries consistently.