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Where To Put Electrodes For Lower Back Pain

Pay Attention To Placement

TENS Unit for Low Back and Sciatic Pain (Electrode Placement)

There are few hard-fast rules regarding the placement of electrodes. But, for your safety, always keep these Eight Fundamentals in mind:

  • Before starting, make sure your body is dry to avoid unintended shock. Never use the unit while in a tub or in water.
  • To ensure pads stick, it is best to remove any lotion or oil from the site you are going to treat.
  • If you experience burning or skin irritation, stop.
  • Focus on addressing just one painful muscle or joint at a time. Explore the various ways you might place electrodes to encompass that area.
  • Always use an even number of electrodes. Units usually come with at least two pads , though many come with four . You always need to use an even number of pads in order to create a field.
  • Avoid placing pads on your eyes, mouth, temples, front of your neck, and on wet body parts.
  • Dont place pads on both the front of your chest and your back at the same time. That positioning mimics a defibrillator and could harm your heart
  • Place pads at least one inch apart. You might think that setting the pads close together will focus the current and be more effective. However, thats not so. The electrodes provide better stimulation if they are placed further apart.
  • Thats about it when it comes to hard-and-fast rules when using a TENS unit. Otherwise, when placing the electrodes on your skin, you should seek to encompass the area giving you grief by determining where you hurt and placing the pads on either side of the pain.

    What Happens During An E

    During an e-stim treatment, electrodes are hooked up to an electric stimulation machine and placed around the affected area of your back or neck.

    According to Michael Crary who wrote the book Dysphagia: Clinical Management in Adults and Children, the electrodes may be placed on the skin, on the muscles, or by implantation.

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • For most neck or back injuries treated in outpatient physical therapy clinics, the electrodes will be placed on your skin.
    • The exact placement of the electrodes depends on the reason for treatment, as well as how deep or superficial your therapist intends for the current to go. The electrodes are often placed near a motor point of a muscle so that the correct contraction occurs.
    • Your therapist will adjust the controls of the electric stimulation machine with the goal of getting a good muscle contraction with minimal discomfort.

    An electric stimulation treatment lasts about 5 or 15 minutes.

    How Do I Place My Tens Machines Electrode Pads For Lower Back Pain

    When you want to place the electrode pads on either your back on your lower back, its preferred to have someone help you find the preferred placement, at least the first couple of times.

    Also, if you end up finding a great placement make them mark it with a marking pen so that you or the next person attaching them would know where it worked for you the last time.

    You can use both two or four pads for treating lower back pain, but I always suggest four, since it will triangulate the area of pain much better.

    You can benefit from using a TENS machine in which you can control the intensity of the different channels, and in that way alternate the pressure by combining the channels as shown in the images.

    Also Check: Mayo Clinic Lower Back Pain Exercises

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    What Makes A Tens Unit Effective

    Tens Electrode Placement: What You Should Know ...

    There are various explanations on how TENS unit work and among the most common is that it obstructs the pain signals from reaching the brain. Another standard explanation is that the electric current stimulates the brain to produce endorphins that distract your attention from the feeling of pain.

    Depending on the amount pain you are experiencing, a TENS unit session can go as long as 30 minutes. Others need several hours for the pain to go away. Regardless of how long the session takes, the TENS unit therapy is side effects free a plus!

    But some people may experience some irritation on the skin as a result of having the electrodes the same spot over and over again this is always a possibility.

    While studies regarding the effectiveness of a TENS unit are somewhat inconsistent, the general view is that the therapy is quite useful. Between 70 and 80% experience relief from pain during the initial stages but this drops to about 30% a few months down the line.

    The initial pain relief provides an opening through which a sufferer may start a gentle exercises regimen. A good combination of the TENS unit therapy and appropriate exercises may drive pain away, permanently.

    The first TENS unit settings are usually set by a professional this may be a doctor or physical therapist. It is critical to learning on the appropriate application and placement of the TENS unit. They can then try different settings to determine which one works best for them.

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    Electric Stimulation For Healing And Pain Control

    By reducing swelling and increasing circulation, electric muscle stimulation therapy may also enhance tissue healing and help control inflammation.

    And it may help reduce pain sensations by blocking nerve transmission at the spinal cord.

    For treating pain, your healthcare professional may suggest a TENS unit, which is a take-home electric stimulation therapy. While many patients report good pain control results using TENS, not all healthcare providers are on board with it.

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    How Do Tens Units Work

    There are two main theories about how TENS therapy works to relieve pain:

  • The first is that the nerves are stimulated by the electrical current, which blocks or cancels out the transmission of pain signals from your brain.
  • The other is that the stimulation releases endorphins, which are your bodys natural pain-relieving chemicals.
  • Placebo effect is also an important variable, where believing in the effectiveness of a treatment has an impact on what it does for that person. Some pain management treatments for fibromyalgia, for example, are as effective or not more effective than the placebo or sham treatment given as a comparison.

    A 2014 scientific review of current TENS research found that more research needs to be done to figure out whether TENS can help improve activity levels, quality of life, and mobility. This overview found that TENS has been shown to reduce overall pain levels in chronic conditions like fibromyalgia.

    Turning It On And Adjusting The Strength

    Tens Electrode Placements For Chronic Low Back Pain

    Turn on the TENS machine when the pads are attached in the correct places. You’ll feel a slight tingling sensation pass through your skin.

    The machine has a dial that allows you to control the strength of the electrical impulses.

    Start on a low setting and gradually increase it until the sensation feels strong but comfortable. If the tingling sensation starts to feel painful or uncomfortable, reduce it slightly.

    Switch the TENS machine off after you’ve finished using it and remove the electrodes from your skin.

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    Is Tens Right For Me

    Only you can decide if a TENS unit is a good investment. This is because, while electrotherapy is generally a safe treatment, some people find little to no benefit from it.

    TENS units can range in price from less than $30 to hundreds of dollars, with money-back guarantees often offered for the more expensive units. Checking with the doctor or physical therapist before buying is a good idea. TENS may not be advised if you have a pacemaker or are pregnant, and should not be used over the heart.

    However, before you purchase a TENS unit I suggest you also consider if you can find similar relief from a cheaper, or potentially free, treatment alternative. For example, stretching might bring you the same measure of relief as electrotherapy, but there is no cost associated with stretching.

    See Stretching for Back Pain Relief

    A final consideration to help you decide if a TENS unit is right for you is at what time of day you typically experience your symptoms. For example, if your back pain tends to flare up while sleeping, a wearable TENS unit might be a great pain-relief option.

    See How Electrotherapy Works to Ease Pain

    What Is Back Pain

    The back is divided into two parts – lower back and the middle back . The lower part supports the weight of the upper part of the body. Thus, it is the most common area affected by pain. Pain felt in the back is termed as back pain.

    There can be several reasons behind chronic back pain. It can affect people after any activity, injury, or some medical conditions. It also affects people of all age groups. Generally, people with a sedentary lifestyle are prone to back pain.

    Back pain can range from acute to chronic depending on the severity of pain. Any discomfort can radiate into the other parts of the body.

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    Best Tens Unit For Lower Back Pain

    This TENS unit is powerful. I did not go past 6 for intensity level and found the Hi-Lo combo to be the sweet spot.

    Everyone is different of course so experiment to find the best setting.

    Once I zeroed in on my preferred setting my lower back pain disappeared completely.

    I have tried dozens of TENS units but this one felt different. The Hi-Lo combo setting delivered a pleasant but strong enough stimulation that it effectively blocked the pain signals from my lower back.

    This is well worth the $80 I paid.

    It is a bit pricey but it works to alleviate lower back pain. So using the TENS setting will provide immediate and quick relief from your lower back pain. Click hereto check it out.

    Want to know where else a TENS unit can be placed? Check out my TENS placement guide for how to use one for-

    Tips For Purchasing A Tens Unit

    Pin on TENS Information

    If you decide electrotherapy is right for you, here are some tips to help you find the right TENS unit:

    • Speak with your doctor. TENS units are available both with and without a prescription, and there are a myriad of competitors on the market. Before you buy, check with your doctor or physical therapist to be sure TENS is right for you.
    • Factor in all the costs. Certain TENS manufacturers appeal to customers with the low price of the initial purchase. However, if you need to constantly replace batteries or electrode pads, the lifetime cost of the unit may turn out to be quite high.
    • Consider battery power. Some TENS units may require AA batteries, while others come with rechargeable batteries . If the unit can be recharged you wont have to worry about running out of replacement batteries.
    • Look for a return policy. Even if you find relief from electrotherapy at the doctor for your lower back pain, you may discover after a few weeks that your own device is not worth the investment. This is why it is a good idea to purchase a TENS unit that comes with at least a 30-day, hassle-free return policy.

    While typically not serious, side effects of electrotherapy can include skin irritation or rash. If you have broken skin or an infection, it is advised you avoid using electrotherapy on those areas of your body.

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    How To Use Tens Unit For Sciatica

    Its very easy to use TENS unit. You just need to place the pad in the part of your body that feel pain. You just need to use this unit for 30 minutes each session. But, its depending on the level of pain. 30 minutes is recommended for a mild pain. But if the pain is going worse, you can use the unit for 1 hour or more.

    This unit is worked by transmit an electrical current. This electrical current will interrupts or blocks the pain signals. But, there is a theory said that the TENS unit helps brain to produce endorphin. Endorphin is hormone that make we feel happy and reduce the pain.

    The conclusion is, the TENS unit could be used for sciatica treatment because it can reduce the pain. It may not totally cure sciatica but it can make us feel comfortable. This unit is much recommended for elderly who suffer with sciatica.

    How High Should You Set A Tens Unit

    Different intensities work for different types of pain. For acute pain, the TENS unit should be set between 80 Hz and 120 Hz. For chronic pain, the settings can be lower around 2 Hz to 10 Hz. This lower setting will stimulate hormones produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain.

    For weak or tense muscles, a setting between 35 Hz and 50 Hz is for stimulating muscles for relaxation or strengthening.

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    Tens Machine For Neck Pain Relief

    Can you use a tens unit on your neck? Absolutely. It is of my opinion that tens units are a great solution for neck pain, especially for those who do not wish to use drugs. Electrodes are placed either on or near the area of pain and they then send out soothing electrical pulses to block pain signals.

    Several different studies have been conducted which have taken a look at the effectiveness of using a tens unit on the neck.

    One randomized clinical trial took place in 2005. The study looked at 218 participants who were suffering from neck pain, and the subjects were divided into different treatment groups.

    Those who had been treated with a tens device and those in the exercise group had notable improvement in areas of pain, isometric neck muscle strength, and disability. These improvements were seen after six weeks and maintained after six months. The study was published in Clinical Rehabilitation.

    Another study took place in 2010 and it analyzed 39 patients who were experiencing lubroscral pain. 16 of these subjects were treated with a TENS device several times a day for 20 minutes. These individuals experienced improvement in the function and mobility of the lumbosacral spine in addition to pain relief.

    As you can see scientific studies back up the use of a tens device to effectively help in treating neck pain.

    What Is A Tens Unit Anyways

    How to use a TENS Unit for Lower Back Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a nonpharmacologic treatment for pain relief. Using a low voltage electrical current, it safely and effectively can reduce pain, allowing you to live a better quality of life.

    The TENS unit activates sites in the spinal cord and brain stem that utilize muscarinic, opioid, and serotonin receptors. This is with regular appointments, adequate dosing, and proper intensity.

    For back pain, place the TENS unit electrodes on an area of skin over where there is some pain. Electrical Impulses travel along the nerve fibers, relieving pain immediately, also creating a tingly sensation. There is pain relief because the unit stimulates the nerves in the spinal cord, closing a gate mechanism which relates to pain sensation.

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    Sportsmed Tens Therapy For Back Injuries

    After a diagnosis of sprain, strain, herniated disc or sciatica, your back injury management plan should include physical therapy treatment as often as possible.

    SportsMed is the TENS, ECS and EMS machine we suggest to aid repair of these back injuries.

    SportsMed electrotherapy can be used everyday – between visits to the clinic – for drug-free, on-demand pain relief. It is also designed and programmed to aid circulation, reduce inflammation, hasten healing and help with back muscle strengthening.

    Electrotherapy For Back Pain

    People suffering from nerve pain in their lower or upper back or both might find relief from electrotherapy. If you have sprained or strained your muscles in your back, electrotherapy penetrates your injured tissue without invasion. In addition, electrotherapy releases tight muscles and reduces muscle spasms.

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    Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation Work

    Despite its popularity, muscle stimulation does not top of the list of effective neck or back treatments.

    The lineup, according to a 2018 article published in the European Spine Journal, goes more like this:

    • For mild to moderate, non-serious neck or back pain, exercise, yoga, short-term cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, massage, manual therapy, and acupuncture are the recommended go-to therapies.
    • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, Tylenol, and/or antidepressants may also help.
    • Spinal manipulation is a type of chiropractic adjustment, and physical therapists are licensed to give this treatment, as well.

    The authors of the study also say that interdisciplinary treatment, which essentially means you’ll have a variety of therapies tailored to your specific back or neck pain, tends to get good results.

    The review found that electrical muscle stimulation is not a particularly effective spine treatment. Muscle relaxers, botox injections, steroid injections, wearing a cervical collar for a neck injury, traction, TENS, and short wave diathermy were also on the no-go list.

    You and your healthcare professional should discuss your symptoms and condition to determine which treatment would be best for you.


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