Best TENS Unit settings for herniated disc
TENS aka Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is beneficial in stimulating the nerves by sending electrical pulses through your skin. The machine is powered by a 9-volt battery and the pads are very helpful in relieving the pain of your herniated disc.
Why different settings on your TENS Unit are important for relieving herniated disc pain?
The effectiveness of a TENS Unit device depends on the dosage. Pain relief depends on both intensity and frequency of the electrical impulses from the machine. Each condition (moderate or acute pain) needs certain stimulation amounts for effective results. Right combination and right settings will yield positive effects and maximum pain relief.
Setting the optimal mode for a TENS Unit machine
A TENS Unit machine has 3 basic mode settings:
• Normal setting – also termed as Constant Stimulation. This setting is helpful in case of acute herniated disc pain.
• Modulation setting – In this mode, the frequency shows variations between different settings which alleviates nerve adaptation. The mode is useful for chronic herniated disc pain.
• Burst setting– In this setting, the TENS Unit sends powerful bursts. These bursts do not hurt as they are pain relieving and short. This setting is beneficial in case of chronic pain management.
Setting the Pulse Rate (Frequency)
Frequency at which an individual gets relief varies from one person to another.
Different frequencies recommended for different herniated disc pains are;
• 80 – 120 Hz (frequency is measured in Hertz) – This frequency setting is useful for acute herniated disc pain
• 2 – 10 Hz – Useful in case of chronic herniated disc pain as this pulse rate stimulates the release of natural analgesic called endorphin
• 35 – 50 Hz – This frequency is used for stimulation of muscles for relation and strengthening
Setting the Pulse Width
The Pulse Width on the machine usually ranges from 1 – 250uS.
The Pulse Width in a TENS Unit are the ON periods of the electrical current. Pain relief starts occurring from low to mid time periods.
The following Pulse Width setting for herniated disc pain relief is recommended:
• 175 – 200uS
The power of the TENS Unit device can be strengthened by increasing the pulse width.
What Time Duration Should You Use a TENS Machine for relieving herniated disc pain?
The following time periods for different pains are recommended;
• For acute herniated disc pain – 20 to 60 minutes up to 4 times every day
• For chronic herniated disc pain – 20 to 30 minutes up to 5 times every week
How Often Should You Use Your TENS Machine for treatment of herniated disc pain?
Usually for thirty – sixty minutes up to four times every day. TENS can provide relief for up to four hours.
Application of electrodes for relieving herniated disc pain
The electrodes can be directly placed against the pain area.
Please be mindful to discontinue moving electrodes in the affected area if there is any skin irritation as these electrodes of TENS Unit machine are self-adhesive.
How to use the Tens Unit for herniated disc relief?
1. Check where the pain is radiating from and place the electrode pad in a square pattern along your spine;
2. Ensuring the setting is at the minimum level, turn on the Tens Unit. Adjust the frequency and the pulse length. Wait for some time (few seconds) and slowly readjust or increase the setting until you find relief from the slip disc pain and you feel comfortable with the TENS Unit. (I recommend checking the ‘Tens Safety Usage Guide’ for proper operation of the unit);
3. In order to get maximum relief to your back pain using Tens unit, you will need to know the best position to place the electrodes. Apply the electrodes to the affected area. Place a pad on either side of the source of pain for best results;
4. It is highly advised using two electrodes (with single channel) or four electrode pads (with double channels). Avoid using six or more electrode pads;
5. Repeat as necessary, using the TENS machine for about thirty minutes at a time.