TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a treatment that uses electrical signals to relieve pain. It works by sending low-pulse electrical currents to the area of pain, which stimulates the nerve endings.
This can help reduce pain by blocking the feeling of pain and stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. In addition, because the currents are sent through the body via electrodes that are placed on the skin, it also creates a massaging effect that can reduce tension and inflammation.
However, even though TENS therapy can help provide short-term pain relief, it may not be effective enough to relieve pain from more chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder that affects an estimated four million adults in the United States. It causes pain throughout the body, particularly in the muscles and joints. In addition, patients with fibromyalgia may also experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. As such, the condition can be incredibly debilitating.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. However, many believe that it may be related to genetics as well as hormonal imbalances. Other factors contributing to the condition include stress, physical trauma, infections, and certain medications. Unfortunately, due to the lack of understanding surrounding fibromyalgia, it is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Does TENS Work For Fibromyalgia?
Because fibromyalgia is a neuropathic pain disorder, inhibiting the transmission of pain signals should be an effective way to treat the symptoms. That said, the relief offered by TENS therapy may be limited and short-term. Although many patients have reported that TENS treatment has provided some relief, it doesn’t work for everyone.
Not to mention, when it comes to using at-home TENS units, there’s a lot of potential for user error, which can significantly impact the effectiveness of the treatment. For example, placing the electrodes in the wrong area or using the wrong frequency can result in ineffective treatments.
The Research Between Fibromyalgia And TENS Unit
The fibromyalgia activity study with TENS (FAST) is a study that was conducted to determine if TENS treatment had a positive effect on patients suffering from fibromyalgia-related pain and fatigue.
Research collected during the trial indicated that there is evidence that if TENS is used during physical activity, it can help to decrease activity-induced pain, resting pain, and fatigue. However, it’s also been found that at-home TENS units are nowhere near as effective and take longer to administer relief.
Is The Intensity Of TENS Enough?
TENS units have three primary settings: amplitude, pulse width, and pulse rate. The correct settings depend on the condition of the patient and their specific needs. As such, using the wrong settings will limit the effectiveness of the treatment.
Additionally, lower-intensity home TENS units may not be powerful enough to provide adequate relief for people with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia. This is because TENS units can only deliver low-pulse currents, which don’t penetrate deep enough to provide significant long-term relief.
For instance, at-home units only deliver up to 250 pulses per second. There are a few reasons for this. First, a higher pulse rate requires more power, meaning more wattage — this isn’t usually available in residential settings. Secondly, a high-wattage electrical stimulation unit may be unsafe for home use.
At Neuragenex, we use electroanalgesia therapy, which is a high-pulse electrical stimulation treatment with a standard pulse rate of 8,300 pulses per second. By administering a higher pulse rate, the electrical current will reach deeper into the muscle tissue, providing faster and longer-lasting relief. This is especially beneficial for those with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
Are TENS Units Safe?
If correctly used, TENS units are safe. Despite electricity being involved, TENS units don’t use a lot of voltage, which is why at-home units can only deliver up to 250 pulses per second. However, if used improperly, TENS units can still pose a risk.
For example, you’ll want to ensure the electrodes aren’t placed too close together. Additionally, the electrodes shouldn’t be placed near the eyes, mouth, head, genitals, or reproductive organs, as this could cause potential harm.
It’s also important to mention that people with certain conditions shouldn’t use any kind of electrical stimulation at all, such as if they have a pacemaker. It is recommended that people speak to their doctor before using a TENS unit, as they can advise on the best settings and placement of electrodes.
The Neuragenex Protocol For Fibromyalgia
At Neuragenex, we focus on providing long-term pain relief by employing a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach to treating chronic conditions. This means that we take a whole-person approach to pain management with a drug-free, non-chiropractic, non-invasive treatment plan that addresses the root cause of the symptoms.
Because TENS treatment isn’t effective enough for long-term pain relief and may not always provide effective short-term relief for some patients, we use electroanalgesia. Electroanalgesia is an FDA-cleared electrical stimulation therapy that more effectively targets and stimulates the sensory nerves, which means you may have a much better chance of experiencing long-term pain relief.
Additionally, we supplement our electroanalgesia therapy with IV therapy, which helps to stimulate the body’s natural healing powers by delivering essential vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatories directly into the bloodstream.
This is particularly important for people with fibromyalgia, as certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium, are essential for the functioning of nerve cells and muscles.
Finally, as a part of our whole-person Neurogenex protocol, we also provide lifestyle counseling tailored to the individual. This includes advice on nutrition, exercise, and stress management, which may all help you manage your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Take A Comprehensive Approach To Treating Fibromyalgia
Instead of temporarily masking the symptoms of fibromyalgia using TENS therapy or risking potential side effects from invasive treatments or pain medications, we offer a safe and effective non-invasive approach to pain management.
Our Neurofunctional Pain Management protocol is designed to address the underlying causes of pain and provide long-term relief from your fibromyalgia pain.