#90: What Does a TENS Unit Do?

#90: What Does a TENS Unit Do?

If you’re looking for a way to effectively manage your pain, applying TENS will work wonders for you. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a revolutionary way of relieving pain. Using electrical pulses, a TENS unit stimulates the sensory nerves to provide relief in the affected areas. These pulses also block the pain signals that travel through the brain and spinal cord, helping soothe any discomfort and relaxing your muscles. These can be done using a TENS muscle stimulator.

But let’s back up for a moment and talk more about the device itself.


What is a TENS Unit?


A TENS unit is a wireless and portable device that comes with a pod and pads (also called electrodes) that you apply directly to your pain points. Once applied, you’ll feel pulses and tingling sensations on the affected body parts.  


TENS technology has been around for a while now. It’s known to help relieve pain and muscle spasms from arthritis, period cramps, soft tissue injuries, and sports injuries. It’s commonly used as a home pain remedy and in physical therapy offices and training rooms.


What Does a TENS Unit Do?


Two theories explain how TENS accomplishes pain relief.


According to the Gate Theory, “gates” in our spinal cord acquire pain signals from all parts of the body. When you use a TENS muscle stimulator, the electrical pulses then block the transmission of these signals. Essentially, the stimulus from TENS closes the gates, prevents the brain from receiving pain messages, and stops you from feeling any discomfort.


On the other hand, Endorphin Release Theory explains that the pulses from a TENS unit triggers the creation and release of endorphins. Since endorphins act as natural painkillers and opiate receptors, they block pain messages from reaching the body. Thus, the stimuli help reduce pain, promote muscle contraction, and allow you to feel better and more relaxed.


How Does a TENS Unit Work?


To maximize the numerous TENS unit benefits, it’s essential to learn about the correct TENS electrode placement.


Begin by zeroing in on your pain area. Once identified, your TENS pad placement should be at least a few inches apart and not touching each other. For optimal results, it’s best to use two to four pads per session. Depending on the model, PowerDot offers you one or two pods and the lead cables.


For example, if you’re treating quad pain, position the pads above the kneecap and the pod on your upper thigh. Do note, though, that your TENS unit shouldn’t be applied directly on bones or joints. This will make it difficult for the pads to stay in place if you move.


Remember not to use your TENS unit while driving, working, or doing activities involving involuntary muscle contractions, as this can lead to accidents or injuries. Likewise, never place the pads on your temples, mouth, eyes, irritated or infected skin, varicose veins, or numb areas.


We recommend that you sit or lie down during the entire session for the best possible results. With PowerDot, your device will tell you what the best position is depending on the program you’ve selected. You also get a guide on the proper TENS unit electrode placement to help before and after the treatment.


Keep in mind, also, that the best TENS unit should not give you a painful experience. Your muscles may be twitching, but it must not give you prolonged, unbearable pain. It should never hurt. 


Throughout the treatment, you control the pulsing intensity. As you increase your level, you’ll feel slight vibrations and jumping sensations. Continue to increase your level until you feel the right pulse for your tolerance and comfort level.


What’s the Difference Between TENS and EMS?


There is a lot of talk surrounding TENS vs EMS and which one works better. Since we already know about TENS, let’s dive into EMS a bit more.


An electrical muscle stimulation (EMS, also called NMES) machine uses electrical signals at different Hertz levels to stimulate the muscle fibers, forcing them to contract. These contractions increase the blood circulation and nutrient distribution, helping you recover faster, perform better, and prevent injuries.


Electric muscle stimulation is best paired with your current training routine and workout program to enhance your performance. Also, it’s typically used post-session, speeding up your recovery by flushing out your lactic acid and increasing oxygenated blood flow.

While electric muscle stimulation is an excellent training partner and can indeed help combat soreness, its main goal is not to decrease pain, as is the case for TENS.


How PowerDot Can Help You


Here’s the good news: PowerDot packs both TENS and EMS in one sleek, portable device that can be accessed through an app on your smart device. Plus, you can conveniently create your customized pain relief program so that it fits your needs and goals.


Simply select your pain point, confirm the type of pain you’re experiencing (acute, chronic, or injury-related), and set your pain tolerance score. From there, our proprietary algorithm will create a program specially designed to meet your pain relief needs. Through the app, you’ll be able to track your progress and monitor your pain score per body part over time. This isn’t only about helping you right now — it’s about making things better in the future.


A TENS unit is a game-changing, not to mention non-invasive, method of relieving your pain. It’s portable so you can carry it with you anywhere or use anytime pain relief is needed — even mid-flight (yes, it’s TSA-friendly!). With PowerDot’s Smart TENS, you can effectively recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and pain, and prevent injuries – allowing you to feel your best all the time. Plus, unlike many other devices on the market, we’re FDA-tested and -cleared, so you’re sure to be getting the best TENS unit available.

Still curious about how it all works? Learn more about how PowerDot can help with injury-related pain.


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