TENS can offer some level of lower back pain relief depending on the severity of your pain and the particular type of complaint. The device is about the size of a mobile phone. You can hook it over your belt or conceal it under loose clothing. It runs on batteries, and sends electrical impulses across the skin via electrodes. Despite it’s simplicity it can provide remarkable lower back pain relief if used correctly.
The sensation you feel is not the least bit painful. ‘Buzzing’ or ‘tingling’ are the descriptions used most often by people who use them. It seems like many people are divided on the effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (now you know why it’s referred to as TENS!). Many feel it is all psychological. But I was in pain for five months taking pills like one eats potato chips and I could get no relief whatsoever. With TENS, I was able to handle the pain and finally get rid of most medications.
An executive with low back pain had the opposite experience. His discomfort increased: ‘It felt like a vibrator on the place where it hurt.’ (Note: TENS devices hardly ever cause pain; placing the electrodes differently, or reducing the intensity, might have prevented the problem in this case.)
TENS For Lower back Pain Relief Can Work
Meanwhile, Gillian, a UK TENS user, reacted very positively: ‘I find that using my own TENS machine, especially after retiring at night, for half an hour, whilst reading a book, makes for a more restful night. I also use the TENS machine first thing in the morning, if necessary. A lot of people do not seem to be aware of how it helps with lower back pain relief.’
So how does a TENS machine work for low back pain? It is thought to send signals to the brain that block other nerve signals carrying pain messages. It is also believed to stimulate the production of endorphins (natural pain-relieving hormones produced by the body). One hour on, followed by one hour off, is a commonly used regime during the day, leaving the electrodes off at night.
TENS is not addictive and seems to have few side-effects. It’s often recommended in the UK for pregnant women as a way of controlling labor pains, especially in early labor. It has also been recommended for treating pain after surgery but, according to the
UK College of Anesthetists, TENS isn’t effective on its own as pain relief for acute moderate to severe post-operative pain.
There is also some debate as to whether TENS is effective for chronic pain, and some experts feel that more research needs to be done in this area.
If you would like to try using a TENS machine for lower back treatment at home, ask your doctor first whether you can hire a machine locally before you decide to buy one. You could try your local health centre, high street chemist or hospital pain clinic.