Ever heard of the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine? Usually shortened to tens machine, this is a device that gets connected to your body and produces an electrical current that is designed to help relieve and manage pain.
I know, it sounds crazy but it has been widely used for a long time.
Its history in fact dates back to the ancient Romans who used similar but simplified forms of electrical current to help manage pain.
Now how did the Romans do this when electricity wasn’t discovered until hundreds of years later? Well, its been reported that the Romans used to relieve pain by standing on electrical fish at the seashore. Anyway after electricity was properly developed it was soon being used by people like Benjamin Franklin to help alleviate the discomfort caused by all types of pains.
The modern machine is usually credited to being devised by C. Norman Shealy. The modern tens machine was first patented in 1974 when it was used as a way of measuring patients resistance levels of chronic pain but as patients began saying that they received so much relief from pain after using a tens machine, this took over as it’s primary function and in the mid eighties companies began manufacturing machines for commercial and home use.
The tens is often confused with the EMS machine, which is designed to stimulate muscles for weight loss, this is not a function of the tens machine, it’s primary function is to block pain.
Ok, how does it work? Typically the tens machine will be used by connecting electrodes to the skin and a current is then transferred through the electrodes into the body. There are settings that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the frequency and intensity of the charge depending on the required therapeutic outcome desired.
The electrical current stimulates the muscles in the target area which helps deal with the associated muscle tension. There is also some evidence that the process interrupts the neural pathway that interprets pain in the brain, although scientists have not comprehensibly proved this theory by studying the machine. However, it is a theory that is strongly espoused by proponents of the device.
The tens machine has also been marketed as an effective way of dealing with the labour pain experienced in childbirth. Although again this is a claim that has not been proven to work by any independent analysis.
You might be thinking that it doesn’t necessarily seem that safe to be willingly expose your tissues to that kind of electrical current and there would be many people who share your hesitation. There is in fact a long list of areas that you are meant to avoid using the machine on.
These areas include the back of the neck, anywhere near the spinal column, on any kind of wound or damaged skin, around the eyes, transcerebrally, internally (obviously) except for(surprisingly) certain kinds of anal and vaginal stimulation and through the chest or over the heart. So any recommendation has to come with several warnings to consult certified health practitioners before using the tens machine.
Although there are obvious risks associated with the machine, it’s enduring popularity and anecdotal success stories are hard to deny.
This post is sponsored content by Chemist Australia