Electrical Stimulation Can Improve Your Life Without Pills
Endorphins can be solicited to relieve pain naturally.
For decades it has been known and practiced widely that electrical stimulation can elicit a biological response providing a numbing effect. The use of a small electrical charge which utilizes the skin to complete the circuit allowing electricity in the range of about a hundred watts of power to move transcutaneously, TENS.
All this time thousands of individuals have purchased or had prescribed a TENS unit with sticky electrodes and wires and people have found much relief using them. Cheaper units have been manufactured and sold over the internet and even some of them have had some limited success. The unfortunate part being that all TENS devices and all electrodes are not made equal. Even to the point of being unsafe, potentially causing burns or not working at all, some electrodes are dangerous. I'm certainly not saying all lesser expensive products are dangerous, nor am I saying just because things are expensive are they all better.
If you are going to a modern physical therapy provider, and you are experiencing muscle and or joint pain just about anywhere in the body, they may well utilize electrical stimulation during your visit to help you find some relief. This may be a combination of current passed through the offending appendage and possibly some form of analgesic absorbed through the skin such as dextromethorphan. This combination process is often referred to as iontophoresis.
If a drug isn't used, they may utilize Interferential Current. Where TENS is in the 100hz range, IFC operates in the 4000hz range - about 40 times the energy. This allows the practitioner the opportunity and ability to "treat" a much larger area instead of a straight line. Deeper and broader - through a knee or a shoulder, across a low, mid or upper back treatment is possible. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get a response from your body. That is a response of inducing some natural pain relief from your own body. It is called The Endorphin Effect.
You may have heard of long distance runners that reach a point while running that it seem like it is taking no effort at all to continue. Kind of a "runner's high" if you will. This is where the endorphins your body produces are circulating through your body - and they are more powerful than morphine.
Now there is another option some people need more than pain relief. If someone has muscular atrophy due to an accident, surgical changes or possibly a new hip, knee or shoulder, NMES or Neuromuscular Stimulation may be the application utilized. Muscle re-education is often the terminology used by physical therapists. In this case, a specific amount of electricity is used to cause a contraction of the long muscles that are affected. In doing so a leg may bend or hand may curl. Likewise, someone experiencing leg or back cramps may utilize these measured contractions to relieve the tension and the cramp.
So Do You Want Some Good News?
No longer are these e-stim contraptions limited to use at the physical therapist's office. Companies have managed to identify the electronics needed and place them in packages that can be utilized by the patient at home - as often and as well as they are used in the office. In fact, most good PTs realize it is in their best interests to have the patient utilize a home unit prior to coming for pain and torture, PT, can actually make it through the session more pain free and get full advantage of their hands on techniques.
Most of the companies had been offered early on in this process were very expensive. Only those people with a very hearty insurance plan could expect to get one passed through. It seems times have made a bit of a change and some manufacturers have made inroads to allow more people access to home use products.
One such product is the NexWave by a company known to work in the e-stim world, Zynex Medical. This is their premier estim product and has all three modalities available to anyone who needs a take-home product. The key here is that the product actually has IFC as an option, compared to their biggest competitor who offers a product they say is "Like IFC" but isn't IFC...truth in advertising?
Ask your physical therapist for a take home unit. Know how to use it - usually quite simple - and have your insurance company pay for it. You too can find some natural pain relief.