Sciatica is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by bilateral, symmetrical leg & back pain (known as neuritis) lasting more than six weeks, usually beginning in the lower back and down one side of the pelvis.
It is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve – the main nerve of the lower half of the back and leg.
It is one of the most common diseases in the world. A survey said that 3 out of 8 people in the united states face sciatica,
but many are unknown to the fact and treat it as normal pain.
Some people face chronic pain, while others face mild level pain. But unfortunately, most of them can't pinpoint the reason why they are facing this sciatica pain.
The main reason for sciatica pain is the soreness of the sciatic nerve. It occurs when the nerve gets stressed or pinched, normally by a disk in the spine or by an overgrowth of the bone, or by a tumor. The other causes of sciatica are diabetes, pregnancy, overweight, wearing high heels regularly, not exercising, less physical activities, smoking, sleeping on the too hard or too soft mattress, and many more.
It causes acute pain to the lower back, extending from the buttocks to the thigh or, occasionally, down into the foot. It causes the buttocks and legs to turn to and fro. Often there is an additional sensation of pain that radiates to the foot. You can also feel knee pain, shoulder pain, and leg pain. The pain can be mild to unbearable one. The level of pain varies from person to person. Pain is sometimes triggered or exacerbated during sleep.
People who face sciatic pain know how painful and miserable life becomes because of it. If you are one of these people, you might understand how uncomfortable life becomes because of it. You might have tried many traditional treatments, massages, exercise, special yoga, non-invasive therapy, medicine, and many more but aren't getting any permanent or good results.
Don't worry. We get the best solution for you. If you are looking for an effective treatment that can reduce your sciatica pain and provide you with excellent relief for a great amount of time, then here is the best solution-a tens unit.
What is a TENS Unit?
The acronym TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
It is a battery-operated, wearable electrical device that painlessly delivers a continuous electrical current which causes a tingling sensation to the skin to reduce pain.
It delivers a burst of electrical pulses to the affected area, which helps to relieve pain by stimulating the nerves in the body, which blocks the neural signals that transmit pain.
It is typically used by physical therapists, occupational therapists, and chiropractors for treating pain.
You can also use it in the home yourself according to your pain level and how much you want to cure it by controlling the frequency, intensity level, and duration while using it.
A tense unit is a very effective device for managing every type of pain-be it trivial or chronic. It helps relieve back pain, neck pain, muscle pain, joint pain, musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and other pain caused by any sports injury, spinal cord injury, arthritis, sciatica, and many more.
It is actually the best treatment for any kind of pain, especially pain from sciatica. So, use this pain relief tool for your sciatica pain correctly to get optimal pain relief and enjoy a pain-free life.
The Science Behind Using TENS Units for Sciatica Pain Relief
Sciatica is an intense pain that usually radiates from the lower back to the back of your leg on one side and can feel like a burning, squeezing, or tingling sensation. It typically starts gradually and can get worse, depending on how bad the problem becomes. There exist many treatments and therapy for sciatica, but one of the most successful is the tens unit. The main 3 reasons for using tens unit for sciatica are:
- It increases endorphin production, which is a natural pain killer of the body by stimulating the nerves.
- It helps to block or confuse the pain signals from invading your nervous system and spinal cord. It also blocks nerve signals that indicate sciatica pain to the brain.
- The electrical impulses or electric shock helps to relax the constricted, tight muscles of the painful area and provides you instant pain relief.
How to Use a TENS Unit for Sciatica Pain?
Though the using process is really very easy, you can still find it confusing if you don't have the proper idea. You need to understand the process correctly and implement them step by step properly to get the desired result and a long-term solution.
The wrong implementation will not provide any benefits or may causes harm. But do you know how to implement the tens unit properly?
If not, then read the following section of our article, follow the steps of using a TENS Unit, and get relieved from your sciatica pain.
Your TENS unit box must have:
- A TENS unit(single or dual channel)
- Total 4 connectors with a pair of wire
- Two pads(single channel) or four pads(dual channel) known as electrode pads
- Batteries or power source
Pad Placement and Using Process of TENS Unit for Sciatica Pain:
- First of all, make sure that the tens unit is off.
- Put on the batteries in the tens machine or charge it by following the instructions.
- Take out the patches from their plastic storage bag. It will be best if you keep this bag safe for future storage.
- Connect each patch to the lead wires properly and make sure that no metal pins are left exposed.
- Connect the lead wire to the sockets of the tens unit.
- Put the patches on clean and dry skin.
- But, before placing the patch or pads, find out the exact area where you feel pain which means the pain center. Then determine the most delicate and compact area where you feel the most intensity of the pain.
- You have to use two pads or four pads depending on the tens unit. You need to use two pads for one channel tens unit and four pads for the dual-channel tense unit. Remember that a tens unit will not work with only one pad.
- You can change the direction of the electric sensation flow by changing the direction of the electric pads or by increasing/decreasing the distance between the electric pads.
- You can put the pad in one of the three directions: a. Horizontal b. Vertical c.Angulated
- While placing the pads, remember that the pads must not touch each other, and you should keep at least a 1-inch distance between them. But don't make too much distance as with the increase of distance between the pads, the effectiveness decrease.
- A great piece of advice is that you should not place the pad directly on any joint because even a little movement of this place can hamper the work of the tens unit, and you will not get your expected result.
- For sciatica pain, place the pad vertically on the top of the origin of pain and other pads vertically on the bottom of the pain. You can also place them according to your preference.
- After placing the pads, turn on the tens unit. Start with the lowest settings if you are a beginner. Usually, the doctor or specialist determines the initial settings for the patient, but you can also determine it by yourself.
- Adjust the pulse length and pulse frequency till you get your comfortable intensity. Control the electrical stimulation. Start with the lowest setting and then adjust them according to your preference until you find the best settings to relieve your sciatica pain.
- Repeat the therapy accordingly, and the average time is 15-20 minutes for moderate pain relief and 30-60 minutes for acute pain relief. You can use it a little long or short according to the degree of pain, but of course, don't overuse it; after all, it's an electrical device.
How much does a tens unit cost?
If you're looking to buy a TENS unit, the first question that probably comes to mind is how much does a TENS unit cost? The answer is simple. The prices vary depending on the brand, model, and style of the particular machine. Usually, the cost is between $30-$110. Of course, there are tense units available in the market more or less than this price range. But the cheaper tens unit can't give you the expected results. Again, the expensive one comes with additional features, a guarantee & a warranty. But, the best piece of advice is that, if you are a beginner or buying tens unit for the first time, then go for the medium budget one. It is really an affordable solution for all types of pain. You can buy it online or from any shop or supermarket, and you don't even need any prescription for it.
What are the benefits of a TENS unit?
The benefits of tens unit therapy are numerous and may include relief from pain, be it back pain or sciatica pain or others, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression.
It's an effective pain relief solution. But you might think that there are lots of pain medications,
pain treatment, pain relievers, therapies, natural painkillers, then why should you prefer a tens unit? Because-
- It ensures relief from severe pain even when many other treatment, therapies or medicine fails.
- You need to buy it just once and can enjoy the benefits all the time while other treatments and therapies required payment each time.
- It helps to relieve pain faster.
- It is so small that you can carry it in your pocket or clip it to your belt so that you can use it whenever and wherever you want & required it.
- It's a safe device with minimal side effects.
When to avoid a TENS unit?
A tens machine is a must-have safe, non-addictive painkiller alternative for any chronic pain sufferer. Tens units help to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and increase circulation without the risk of addiction or side effects that come with prescription drugs or other therapies.
This simple device is a powerful tool that can be used to ease pain, speed recovery, and improve your overall well-being.
But there are certain conditions or situations when you should avoid using it or consult a pain specialist or doctor first before using it. This guidance applies to the following situation or people:
- Pregnant women: Tens unit is a really helpful device to reduce back pain or specific body pains during pregnancy, but pregnant women should consult a doctor first before using it. And they must not use the device on their abdominal regions and pelvic regions. It can be too dangerous.
- Heart Problems: People who have heart problems should avoid using it as this device uses electrical methods.
- Sensitive Area: People with epilepsy should avoid using it or consult a doctor before using it. They should never use it on their neck, shoulder, or head area.
- Peace Maker Surgery: People with a pacemaker or any electrical or metal implant.
- People with cancer: People who have or had cancer should avoid tens units. They must not put the device on the particular area where the cancer cell is situated or where they had any cancer issue in the past 5 years.
- Thrombophlebitis: Tens unit can increase the heavy risk of blood clot dislodging to the thrombophlebitis patient. This situation can occur because tens unit increases blood circulation.
- Injured Area: Don't use it on an injured area or where bleeding recently occurred. It can restart the bleeding.
Tens Unit Side effect:
Though it's a very safe device to use with no adverse side effects, a few numbers of people have faced some issues.
Though almost everyone gives positive feedback, some people faced skin irritation. Also, you might face a little burning sensation where the electrode is placed.
But this is a rare case. You might also face some rash or tingling sensation if you have any allergies to the materials of the pads. So, before buying, try to know the material and if you have any allergies to them.
Don't use a TENS unit while:
- Driving or cycling
- Showering or bathing
- Using electric machinery
Stop using a tens unit & consult a doctor if you face:
- Skin irritation such as rash, itching, or redness
- Intense headache
Overall, the tens unit is a great device for relieving any kind of pain, especially sciatica pain. People with sciatica can undoubtedly rely on the tens unit to get relieved from this monstrous pain. It is a natural solution to achieve pain relief from sciatica. So, use the tens unit properly and enjoy a pain-free life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
- Can you use TENS for sciatica pain relief?
Yes, you can, as it's an excellent device for pain management. Tens unit actually works great for sciatica pain as it helps to get you relief from this monstrous pain within a small amount of time.
- What else can be done to relieve sciatica pain?
Sciatica pain is not that easy to get relief. But you can also try some other extra ways like taking physical therapy, not sitting for a long time, walking for 10-15 min after one hour of sitting. Consult medical professionals to get more medical advice to get better results.
- Can you use a TENS unit too much?
If you are using it for one or two days, it will be fine and won't cause any harmful damage. But if overusing it is in your daily routine, then you will face many internal injuries, nerve damage, and other critical conditions. Consult a specialist to know the periods of time you should use it.
- Can a TENS machine make sciatica worse?
No, it doesn't make sciatica worse. It actually helps to get a longer-lasting, deeper level of relief. But of course, wrong wiring, incorrect implementation, and overusing might cause harm.