Have You Used a TENS Unit For Pain Relief?
February 1, 2018 1:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested to hear from anyone who has used or uses a TENS unit for pain relief ( not sex play). I am considering using one for recurrent mild lower back pain.

I'm interested to hear your experiences using a TENS unit. Did you use it in a doctors office or at home? Did you experience any side effects? Can you recommend a specific brand, or suggest any features i should look for if I decide to get my own? Thank you.
posted by WalkerWestridge to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Yes I have one at home
For me it’s better than a heating pad but less effective than pain meds.

Absolutely get one. Very useful.
I didn’t shop for my model, my chiropractor gave it to me.
But maybe you could shop the different features.
Get lots of the sticky parts.
posted by littlewater at 1:19 PM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

I use mine all the time! I don't know the brand off-hand but it was only ~$20 or so. It uses a 9v battery and I buy replacement pads from my chiro office; he demo'd it for me when I first bought it so I would know how to use it. I use it on my wrist for tendonitis, and inside my shoulder blade, which houses a half-century of stress. It is the next best thing to having a massage therapist elbow me in the traps every day.

(Now I see why nobody favorited my comment about what personal items I bring to hotels!)
posted by headnsouth at 1:19 PM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I used one at PT for chronic pain. It's an interesting sensation, and borders somewhere between distractingly unpleasant and soothing. It's a weird experience. There's another device/setting that I am drawing a blank on but one letter of the acronym stands for "interference." Some TENS units have both settings. I couldn't really tell the difference between the two.

My take on it is that for me it didn't really help long term, but short term it was damn distracting with being inhibitive. So I could relax, listen and enjoy music, read, whatever while I was using it, but 20 minutes later, eh. But it was a nice break from constant pain, which is really what I sometimes have to have.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:29 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've used one in physical therapy for neck pain, and it did provide some relief for at least a few hours. I believe my physical therapist said this is the model they recommend to patients wanting to try it at home.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 2:08 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have the model linked by the return of the thin white sock. I like it. It gives me pain relief for a few hours.
posted by gaspode at 2:23 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used my TENS for low back pain for about a year. It was my favorite treatment. I liked that I could clip it to my pants and use discreetly at at work. Non sedating and non constipating. I had to try different settings and different pad placements to get the best results for me. Its only 20 to 30 bucks so it's worth trying. You vmcan get a used one cheaper on Craigslist etc....
posted by SyraCarol at 4:09 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used a TENS unit for shoulder and back pain and it didn't seem to really do anything. I'm an overweight male, if that matters.

I much preferred OTC pain meds or a hot pack/ice pack routine.
posted by tacodave at 4:32 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

My acupuncturist used one in conjunction with the acupuncture treatment and it was super helpful. I got a small one for home and it definitely helps.
posted by mogget at 5:03 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love how mine helps while using. I don’t think the effects last long, in my case. But man, it’s worth it for the relief for those 10-15 minutes.
posted by greermahoney at 12:30 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I used one for a while at home as part of treatment for a bout of sciatica (so, pretty much lower back pain.) Like littlewater, I found it better than a heating pad, not as good as good drugs. I found it helped for a while, half an hour to an hour or so, making it easier and less painful to be in one position and read or watch TV or browse the web or whatever, but after that my lower back just felt numb-tingly, like the whole area fell asleep, which was sometimes almost more distracting than the pain. I honestly don't remember where I got mine or what brand or model it is, I either grabbed one off the shelf at a local drugstore or just randomly picked one from Amazon. There's not much to it, so I don't know that different brands/models are really all that different. I wouldn't spend more than 25-30 bucks on one until after you've tried it and decided whether it works for you or not.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:59 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was extemely skeptical, but my husband was going to a chiropractor twice a month for TENS treatment and I figured if we could get our own for the price of a single co-pay it was a no-brainer, so I got one for him and I use it just as often. It's great for cramps. I got mine on Amazon for about $25, there's tons of options; I just picked one that had good reviews. I always use it on the lowest setting because any higher and it sort of freaks me out.
posted by jenjenc at 8:57 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I found one at a garage sale and used it regularly for several months. It was nice while it was on, but didn't seem to have any lasting effects on my back pain. Once a week chiropractic appointments and pilates helped a lot more.
posted by ananci at 11:04 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a travel-sized home TENS unit and I love it. I highly recommend the PulsoPro made by Pure Enrichment. Comes with a decent supply of sticky pads. And when they wear out, Amazon offers replacements of various sizes. This unit has enabled me to carry on on those days that I am experiencing excruciatingly painful muscle spasms.
posted by sproggie at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

D'oh! Forgot to add, I usually use it on my lower back. Also, I used to have the TENS 7000, but I find it doesn't work as well and as easily at the PulsePro. (No, I am not shilling for Pure Enrichment!)
posted by sproggie at 11:12 AM on February 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used one recently for a neck/shoulder injury - I somehow tweaked it in my sleep, and ended up with a really painful, giant knot and a lot of tension. I intended to get a stick on heating pad thing but the store was out, so I got a TENS unit (Icy Hot brand, weird) instead to try out. I found it moderately helpful - the sensation wasn’t painful, but it was distracting enough that I didn’t feel pain while it was on. It kind of jerked my shoulder around in a way that helped a little bit with the tightness, though not a huge amount. I would definitely use it for painfully tight muscles in the future.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:33 PM on February 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks very much for taking the time to answer everyone! You were all very helpful.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:11 AM on February 6, 2018

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