Drug Free Pain Therapy: How to Avoid the Pharmaceutical Fix.

For any long-term sufferer of painful neck, joint, muscle or back pain, the options for pain relief are limited.  Physiotherapy can help with some conditions – particularly back pain – while many people rely on a heady cocktail of prescribed or over the counter drugs.  For those with rheumatic pains or arthritis this reliance on pain management drugs is not something that they particularly enjoy.

The relief from pain is great, but reliance on drugs can lead to complications.  In recent years one drug free alternative to hit the market has been the TENS machine.  So what exactly is this type of machine, how does it work and does it work?

Happy Drugs: the Natural Way

TENS stands for the slightly more complicated transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.  In very simple terms these devices deliver electrical pulses which are believed to relax muscles, reduce inflammation and are believed to stimulate the production of endorphins.  Endorphins are the body’s natural ‘happy’ drug and they also block pain signals – effectively they are the body’s own pain-killer and stimulating them is the main reason, according to the NHS, that TENS machines appear to work.  In addition to a number of long-term health problems relating to musculoskeletal issues, TENS have also been used as part of a wider physiotherapy treatment for those recovering from a range of sports injuries and even for those recovering from strokes.  In addition they have become popular with women during childbirth as a drug-free alternative to pain killers.

Drug Free Pain Therapy: How to Avoid the Pharmaceutical Fix.druThe Kit

The devices are normally small and lightweight, which means that they can be used without interrupting your normal daily life and activities.  The machine consists of a small battery-powered unit, normally featuring a display and adjustable settings.  Basic settings include a low powered ‘massage’ setting which can help to gently alleviate pain, with more robust settings to target intense periods of discomfort.  The machine incorporates one, two or several pads, which stick directly to the skin and these contain the electrodes that deliver the electrical pulses.

Hard Facts

So now to the facts; do TENS machines actually work?  There’s considerable variation in reports on this and in medical opinion.  In terms of users, many people find that a TENS machine is the answer to their prayers and that they have a high level of effectiveness.  In other cases however, users report little or no benefit.  According to the NHS, studies have not proven conclusively that a TENS machine will work in every case.  The devices have been used (and still are) in medical settings and your GP should be happy to discuss the potential benefits of using a TENS machine.  In general the medical establishment seems to agree that the machines work well for many people and are highly effective but that results are not guaranteed for all users.  In terms of safety there have been few reports of any side-effects at all and the UK’s medical regulatory body has advised that TENS machines ‘appear to be safe’, while adding that effectiveness varies from individual to individual.

Call the Midwife and Get Some More Batteries while you’re at it

The rising popularity in the use of TENS during labour, particularly in the early stages at home, suggests that many women do find that the devices can effectively help to manage pain without the need for drugs.  It’s important to speak to your doctor and/or midwife to discuss if it is safe to use a TENS machine and when or if you should use one.  TENS are not considered safe during pregnancy but are normally not considered to pose a risk during labour itself.  Again, check with your doctor or midwife as to the suitability of specific models.

Pain Relief for Hire

For those who are considering using TENS machines during labour, or as an alternative to pain killers while recovering from a sporting injury, or for those who are simply not sure the devices can work for them there is a simple alternative to purchasing a TENS machine outright: simply rent one.  The hire market is increasing as uses during labour, or for one off injuries, are the key areas of interest for many consumers.  For those with long-term conditions which require pain relief, TENS machine hire in the UK is become widely available as a method to trial this potentially liberating device.

Emily Starr is a writer who suggests that if you are suffering from a constant pain but are always cautious about spending on new treatment ideas, it is worth approaching Tens machine hire UK to see how they can help you to ease your pain and save you money.

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