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TENS - What do I need to know?

Kris-NYKKris-NY Posts: 2,207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Pain Management
My neuro has agreed to try a TENS unit. I contacted my PT who will place the order, but I'm wondering what I need to know. Are there different type of units and which is best? Are there different types of pads? And then any tips on actually using it?

Thanks guys I'm really hoping this will help.


  • Kris,

    I have a TEN/EMS combined unit. TENS is for the nerves, and the EMS for the muscle stimulation - which I need for my thighs. I can give you a web site that connects such to give you a PDF file of where you need to locate the electrodes, or let me know, and I will attach and send in regular email.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I have tried two so far. One someone gave me with two pads on it, written in chinese(seriously) and loved it. Then my surgeon ordered the second one and had the settings set for me. There is some dials on it, but he doesn't want me messing with them, so he called in the numbers and settings that would be most appropriate for me. This one does have 4 leads on it. Two pads to each wire. The company came out showed me how to use it. But the pads are placed in a fashion to make a X. It will run constant, but the rep said to run it a 1 1/2 hours on and a half hour off. If you don't take the breaks from it, will get to used to it and stops doing the job. Now most days I run it continously but I move it so it is not targeting the same body parts, for example my neck then down to one of my legs, which they said I can do that. Now I do have issues if I use it on any of the nerve damage, it actually increases that pain.
  • So is this for nerve pain or muscle pain? Mine seems to be primarily nerve pain.

    Just found out that the no-fault won't pay for it. At my next IME, which should be in May, I can ask the doc and he will probably approve it. I was just hoping to stay off medication until I tried this.Now I'm thinking that I may need to start back on something...grrr.
  • i started with an omron and it lasted years then i went on to acticare .this is a high end TENS and TSE unit the TSE is like an external spinal cord stimulator i would not be with out it ..electrodes are normally 50x50 mm square and the ones supplied with the various units are normally not very good quality {omron and acticare send PALS/TYCO} PALS are high end as are TYCO they do two different types normal and hypoallergenic ..i need hypoallergenic ..these are normally blue .and cost the most .you can get other types of electrons and different sizes but the 50x50mm are about the best .shop around for the electrodes be careful not to get crap ones from ebay or amazon stick to genuine suppliers like omron and acticare and the physio suppliers like physio med .if you get a TENS say the acticare for example ..and you want to use it on your lower back i use mode 3 that's a fast throb..like throb.throb.throb ...you get the idea .mode 1 is a constant buzz mode 2 is a tap .tap tap mode mode 4 is a slow throb like throb...throb ...throb ..and so on !! the acticare is an easy unit to use as it is just a case of select a mode and pres start {some TENS are very complex ..you have to start selecting wavelength etc you need a degree in physics!} if i were you i would have a look at various web sits and buy a TENS that is easy to use ..keep away from the very cheap ones as they are crap they time out after 15 minutes .i can strongly recommend the acticare but i am not allowed to give you there web site address but use your common sense and you will find it or i can PM it to you .good luck TENS are an essential piece of kit for back pain PS keep away from the units with two knobs on the top they are the ones where you have to dial in the frequency .q the physics degree!! PM me if you need any more advice
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • When you do get your tens, take it into your PT, they will go through everything with you and get the settings sorted out for you as well, and show you where the best placement of the pads should be. Hope you get it soon, I love mine!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I have this one http://www.medi-stim.com/stims/if/if8100.html . I use it 20 minutes twice a day. It works very well. I got it from a company called Zynex.
  • The TENS "Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation" is for nerve pain. The EMS is for "Electrical Muscle Stimulation". Mine is dual use, but you can buy for around $110 (without a prescription) a TENS that is very good. You would then need your surgeon or PT person to find which settings work best for you. I have all mine marked in the back of my operators manual, and too was told that I could try other programs.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Tony,

    Mine has the buttons on the top, and I set the pulse and mode without any problem. I find it very easy to use personally. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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