I just got a TENS unit and have been using it on and off for a few weeks - I’m curious if it helps anyone else. It seems to help me mildly, but possibly has triggered an episode with my EM for me. But it’s a bit difficult to tell, because some of my episodes happen at what seem like random times?
I’d love to hear if anyone else has experience with using these and if or how they help them.
I was diagnosed with EM about a year ago and it’s been a strange rollercoaster dealing with it.
Back when I started having symptoms I actually used a tens unit following an ankle surgery recovery, skip forwards six years later and I used tens for my severe muscle spasms in my feet and legs, unfortunately I never payed attention to if it did anything with my em, I was focused on the spasms, sadly the tens unit suddenly stopped working so I haven’t been able to use it since.
Tens units , are used for muscle sprains . They measure heat output from the affected area. I have used tens for neck pain and it is not very effective. IMO it’s NOT a useful therapy for EM . Stay away from it and any type of PEMF ! What works is lidocaine , with ice , take aspirin for pain. Keep your legs elevated when at rest and your hands up at heart level . You may get relief from Tramadol as well.
I’ve not heard of them being used directly for muscle sprains, though I have heard of them being used during the healing process, mostly for types of pain that are caused by overactive pain perception or for things like menstrual cramps, because it uses small electrical pulses to alter the pain signals that end up getting to your brain. I’m pretty sure they don’t measure heat output, but I’m no expert???
Why would you not recommend them for EM?
The reason I’m wondering is because I’ve found mine useful for my EM and topical creams/ice don’t work well for me. Ice tends to make my symptoms worse, at least in terms of pain, maybe because it makes me so tense. Add to that the fact that aspirin only takes away the ache and not the burning pain, I’m wondering if these TENS units are a big no-no overall for EM or similar conditions or if they’re just mostly not useful to people.
Renegade , the Tens unit is an electrical pulse type of nerve ending stimulant. It is useful for muscular-skeletal issues like sprains. Joint pain etc. I personally have tried this on my neck pain with little or no improvement. If it help you , I would guess that you may be dealing with some other issue , neurological disorder. Psoriatic Arthritis is possible. What helps me tremendously is imipramine . Don’t use direct contact with ice. Get one of those cold packs that you freeze and only use it for a few seconds . Don’t wear socks , you don’t want your feet to sweat. Use a fan to bring down the temperature of your feet and elevate your legs. Get a Lazy-Boy. Have you tried the Australian Dream creme ,it is a histamine inhibitor anti arthritis treatment. once again , from what I’ve read and tried , Aspirin is the most effective analgesic . Good luck , I hope you find something that works !
Thank you!!! I’ll try some of these out, I appreciate your help
My mother has EM, although different people may have EM from different conditions. She got bad results from nerve velocity tests, which is a bad sign for TENS. Tens is supposed to mask pain signals being sent up the nerves. I’ve heard doctors say using a TENS unit for EM would be like hitting an elephant with a fly swatter. The pain relief from the TENS unit would likely not help. As EM is often related to some kind of nerve damage, the TENS unit probably could trigger further effects of bad signals which might trigger more flares than solve them. Some people get EM like flares, not having EM. The TENS system gets rid of pain by masking it with noise. From what I have seen at least with my mom, it probably would not work, and I bought a cheap one but on reflecting on how she responded to the nerve velocity study tests, I threw the cheap unit out before even trying it. I also had my sister say she experienced and extreme pain reaction using a TENS unit for some other ailment but she attached it with the thing set on high, so she was shocked by the unit and used it improperly. My sister thought the TENS unit would cause extreme pain for my mom as well and said don’t do it. There is a TENS like device which supposedly uses a different frequency to mask pain, that was being tested some years back called the Scrambler. This unit supposedly used a different frequency and different method and worked against pain signals slightly differently according to their literature. It was being tested at the Mayo Clinic for cancer patients, but as far as I can tell never tested on EM kind of ailments. I’d guess that neurologists would probably tell us not to go that route, but I never asked one.
There are some patients that have “normal nerves” with no problems, but their nerves are affected in some other way. These are people who may experience CRPS type 2 flares for a year or more during the onset of their much more complicated and worse neurological disease. CRPS type 2 patients may have EM like pain up to a year, but they have a loss of use of their ankles and feet and gate disturbances and many other problems with pain happening often throughout their body. Their nerves according to one expert in the field, are “normal”. Meaning their nerve bundles sending signals are normal. The problem they have with their disease is there are GLIAL cells which are nerve cells that can move throughout the body and these cells can activate nerve cells. The Glial cells are “overactive” with CRPS type 2 patients and they may have burning feet for the first year or longer during the parts of their onset of their disease. Of course when one looks up foot pain or burning feet, one can find over 800 things that can cause foot pain and discomfort. So it takes quite a while for people to figure out the classification of their particular pain flare like problem.
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So my “non medical” caregiver to an EM patient guess is it’s probably better to avoid the TENS unit. Cases and reactions can vary of course from one person to another, so when you’re in doubt ask your doctor(s).
I have used tens units for about 30 yrs. I first used one from Japan Duty free. Some of the other flight attendants were buying them and said it worked wonders on the back. Most flight attendants at one time or another have excruciating back pain. It worked. Since then I’ve gotten another that had 4 attachments. Now our dear Amazon sells them & I purchased a the the unit that was as small as a cigarette pack & has 8 sensor attachments. One doesn’t HAVE to use all the attachments; but it nice to have them if you need them.
My neuropathic burning pain usually starts late in the afternoon in my palms. fire! But. Upon occasion the burning goes. Across my shoulders and down the back of my body to my heels before pain meds kick in. I stick the electrode patched whereverc the EM pain is the worst. The electricity causes pain so a turn it up as high as discomfort allows. The burnings pain from th EM IS LESS NOTICEABLE and eventually I remove the electrodes. Having 2 hr +flares, to tell the truth, the flare might have been over anyway. But at least I’m doing SOMETHING.
Thank you for your input and for sharing your experience! This has been super helpful for me and hopefully for others too
Thank you for your input! I’ve had some similar experiences with TENS units, but I can’t tell if it might not make it worse long term. I hope it goes well for you!
The tens unit didn’t help my EM but it did help with the back aches I get from not walking correctly.