Frozen shoulder, also termed as adhesive capsulitis, is a medical condition characterised by stiffness and acute pain in the shoulder joint. It is a result of inflammation of the shoulder capsule and abnormal adhering of surfaces of the shoulder muscle fibres that limit its range of motion and functionality.
Using a tens machine is a great way to manage the pain of a frozen shoulder. If you do plan to use a tens machine you will need to know a few things such as the best tens unit placement for frozen shoulder pain which I will cover below.
Where do you put tens pads for frozen shoulder
For a frozen shoulder the best place to put the tens unit pads are one on the front of the shoulder and one at the back of the shoulder. You should also put a pad directly on the muscle where the pain is.
The electrodes need to be placed right on or around the region of pain. The electrical stimulation will be able to interfere with the pain messages only if the electrodes are placed properly on the affected area.
The optimal placement of the TENS Unit device depends on the type of injury. If the shoulder pain is because of frozen shoulder, bursitis or from rotator cuff injuries, one pad can be placed on the back and one on the front of the shoulder.
Such a placement of the TENS pads will result in the stimulation of the entire shoulder joint and help in reducing pain.
For the pain that is centralized to one shoulder, place both the pads on the side that is in pain. For general soreness, the TENS pads can be placed on the trapezius muscle (a large muscle bundle that extends from the back of the head and neck to the shoulder), the area where a lot of pressure and stress is often held.
With correct pad placement, a TENS Unit device can make a significant reduction in your shoulder pain. And since the TENS Unit device is compact, safe, easy to use, and mostly runs on a lithium ion battery that can be recharged, it is portable, ensuring ease and comfort to carry it with you anywhere. To sum up, you can have a relaxing and pain alleviating physical therapy session available at your fingertips at any time and at any place.
How to use a TENS Unit for frozen shoulder pain
Follow these steps if you are going to use a TENS unit for shoulder pain
- Place the electrodes on the affected areas
- Turn the TENS Unit machine on
- Set the unit and slowly adjust settings to find the right spot from where the pain is originating and for maximum pain relief
- Keep moving the TENS pads until you find the right spot
- If you feel no relief in relief. moving the electrodes in the right area or around skin of the affected area can increase the level of pain relief you feel.
- Continue moving the electrodes in the affected area for about thirty minutes
The below video shows you the above steps for using a tens unit on a frozen shoulder.
tens unit placement for rotator cuff pain
For a rotator cuff pain the best place to put the tens unit pads are one on the front of the shoulder and one at the back of the shoulder. You should also put a pad directly on the muscle where the pain is.
A tens unit will help you with pain management of a rotator cuff injury, Follow these steps if you are going to use a tens machine.
Next you will need to make sure the tens unit is set to the lowest strength level before you turn the unit on. After two minutes of treatment you can turn the strength of the tens unit up one setting every two minutes.
Do not use the tens unit for longer than 30 minutes at any one time. If you still have pain in the rotator cuff wait at least 20 minutes before using the tens machine again.
What are the Causes of Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder occurs when scar tissue is formed in the shoulder.
It can occur in individuals who are diabetic and the ones who had long period of inactivity due to surgery, stroke, fracture, or an arm injury.
- Age – people who are above 40 are at increased risk to develop frozen shoulder
- Gender- In women, surgeries like mastectomy increases the likelihood of frozen shoulder
- Systemic Diseases- Medical conditions like tuberculosis, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), can result in frozen shoulder.
Symptoms of frozen shoulder
- Chronic pain in the shoulder and stiffness
- Pain in the muscles of the shoulder which wrap around the upper arm
Can a tens unit reduce inflammation in a frozen shoulder?
If your frozen shoulder has become inflamed a tens unit can help to reduce the inflammation. A tens unit will reduce the swelling deep within the shoulders muscle fibers.
If you do plan to use a tens unit to treat inflammation in a frozen shoulder make sure you follow the steps in this guide.
Can a tens unit be used to relieve frozen shoulder pain?
Using TENS machine for treating shoulder related injuries or shoulder pain is very similar to using this device for relieving pain in any other part of the body.
The pads are placed directly on the area of pain and the settings are adjusted at an optimum frequency and intensity until maximum relief is achieved.
However, since shoulders are round and a joint, some additional steps are needed when placing the TENS electrode pads.