Blog


Sitting for long periods of time can lead to chronic back pain, as can jobs involving continuous heavy lifting. Meanwhile, poor posture can also place undue stress on your spine, which can result in sciatic nerve pain. Frequent back pain affects 26 million people aged 20-64 years in the US, and is the foremost cause of disability in adults younger than 45 years old (per the American Academy of Pain Medicine).

Utilizing a TENS unit at home for pain relief may be covered by your health insurance (including a Medicare plan). The following are four potential health benefits of using a TENS unit.

Decreased Need for Pain-Relieving Medications
An increased risk of intestinal bleeding has been linked to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) on a long-term basis—and these are the most commonly-utilized pain relievers. Physical therapists utilize transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units to treat both back pain and muscle strains, but you can purchase a TENS unit for use at home or at work.
A TENS unit is a specialized device that transmits low-voltage electrical impulses through electrodes on the skin surface. According to a research article in Pain Management, the use of TENS units has been associated with a decreased need for pain-relieving medications.

Increased Capacity for Performing an Exercise Regimen
Even if you are not athletically-inclined, healthcare providers recommend exercise to promote cardiac (heart) health. Yet, musculoskeletal pain can preclude engaging in even mild forms of exercise. Using a TENS unit prior to performing exercises prescribed by a physical therapist (or as part of your normal fitness routine) can provide the back pain relief needed to perform them.
If you have injured your back or have chronic back pain, the following are three gentle types of exercise that are often recommended:
  • Water aerobics
  • Tai Chi
  • Qigong

Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Centers for Disease Control statistics show that over 30 million people in the US have osteoarthritis, and it is typically caused by injury or overuse. The development of osteoarthritis in the back is common in older adults, and its cause is the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the vertebrae of the spine. Daily treatment with a TENS unit can provide back pain relief due to this form of arthritis. 

Treatment for Tendonitis
Repetitive use injuries affect tendons (as well as muscles). The following are described by the Mayo Clinic as the most common sites for tendonitis: 
  1. Shoulders
  2. Wrists
  3. Knees
  4. Heels
Studies have shown TENS unit use to be helpful in relieving tendonitis pain (according to a report by the University of Maryland Medical Center).

TENS Units Recommended as an Adjunct to Traction
Disc compression (often referred to as a “slipped disc”) in the lower spine is common in people who have scoliosis or are significantly overweight. This can require surgical correction for back pain relief, and traction may be necessary following back surgery. After the use of traction, physical therapy with a TENS unit may provide further back pain relief. For people diagnosed with scoliosis, employing a multi-pronged approach to pain relief (as opposed to using one method) may even prevent the need for back surgery.