I received this top-of-the-line “TENS” (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit as a gift from my sister. Of course, she picked the most expensive one she could find. This one is deluxe. It has 12 different “modes,” or electrical pulse patterns, and two separate channels that allow you to electrify your arm and your leg at the same time. It’s very powerful. I regularly use it to treat both pain and spasticity.
When I’m in pain, this is my go-to solution. Check out my post on Shoulder Pain. I place the pads on the affected area, choose my preferred pulse-pattern, set the intensity level, and 20 minutes later the pain is very much reduced, if not gone altogether. I suspect that the pain impulses are canceled out by the electrical current and they cannot compete. However, since I’m not trained in physiology I really can’t tell you exactly what’s going on. All I know is that it works. Is powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Note: Hidow also makes electrically-conductive gloves and socks. You connect the wires and zap your whole hand or foot. Look for accessories if you’re interested.
When I am not in pain, I use the device to relieve spasticity, specifically in my hand. I place one electrode pad just below my outer wrist where it joins my hand, and another on my outer forearm just before my elbow. The unit sends electrical impulses to my muscles that are powerful enough to overcome even a fully clenched fist. My fingers extend completely again and again.
I’ve been using the device for nearly 2 years. I think it was instrumental in restoring function to my hand after my first stroke. I lost all that function in the second stroke, so I must begin all over again. I use it every day, multiple times a day. My physical therapist instructed me to use it at a low power setting and to try to move my fingers myself, synchronizing them with electrical pulses, rather than cranking up the power and letting the machine do all the work. The idea is to provide just enough stimulation to engage your muscles to let your brain know that your hand is still there, and perhaps establish new neural pathways.
My sister has the means to buy the best of everything. For those of us that do not, there are literally dozens of “TENS” machines on Amazon. They may be of equal use to you as the one I have, but I can’t speak to them since I do not know firsthand. Prices are all over the place, starting as low as $28. I also saw them on the shelf at the pharmacy. Do your research before you buy. Read the product reviews. Generally speaking, in most things, I’ve found that you get what you pay for. I’m including the Amazon link to the model I have since is the only one that I have experience with.
Hi-Dow AcuXPD-S Rechargeable Physical Therapy Performance Tens Unit $348.98 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uVZ98a (Other options available as low as $28)
Whichever TENS model you decide upon, you’re going to need supplies. The electrical impulses are transmitted to your body through flexible pads with a light adhesive applied. The pads do not wear out, but the adhesive does. After several uses, they will no longer stick to your body. That leaves you with two choices:
1. Purchase new pads: Hidow Replacement TENS Electrodes – Premium Quality Large Snap On HiDow Compatible Pads – 5 Pairs (10 Pads) $10.40 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2unhZs1
2. Purchase some electrode gel to increase conductivity, and use an elastic bandage to hold the pads on. I chose to do the latter and I still have my original pads. I just put a little gel on the pads and then wrap my arm once they are attached. Here are the links to both products:
- Spectra 360 Electrode Gel – Parker Laboratories – 8.5 oz Tube – (Pack of 3) $11.00 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2unjVk9
- Elastic Bandages Latex Free (Pack of 2), $10.99 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2t7TMFC