The Origin of the TENS unit
Are you familiar with what a TENS unit can do for you? If not, this electronic stim machine is a “transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation” product that is meant to stimulate a body’s nerve system as part of electrotherapy. The purpose is to reduce pain. Many chronic pain patients and athletics are able to get relief through this type of treatment. Athletes especially endorse this type of pain management since it allows them to get relief quickly to get back out on the playing field. Sports medicine is a big supporter of this type of electric therapy.
The unit itself is small in nature, and is usually attached to the skin’s surface through two or more electrodes. Most modern units are a portable tens unit that you can use in the comfort of your home so that you don’t have to be attached to the device at a clinic or hospital setting. You can adjust the frequency of the electric pulses to get the desired effect. This non invasive, method of therapy is important because it reduces the amount of prescription drugs needed to treat acute and chronic pain in many patients. It does this by blocking the nerve signals that are producing the feeling of pain. Nerve pain itself is sometimes described by patients as a constant, stabbing pricking pain that is hard to live with. Numbness can also become a problem if the nerves are damaged in some way. Nerve pain is also called neuropathic pain. Chronic pain management techniques include using a TENS Unit device to help curb and manage pain better.
Back, neck, and shoulder pain are just some of the spots on the body that are targeted by the portable TENS unit. It has even been used in women who are in labor experiencing significant pain. This treatment is a bit controversial though.
An EMS unit is similar, but an EMS unit targets muscles, and nerves. Sometimes people confuse the purpose of these two similar devices. In the EMS one, it means electronic muscle stimulator. Each can be used to produce a wide range of electronic signals to target parts of the body that are damaged and creating a pain response. There are many safety precautions placed in the devices to make sure that you don’t overuse them, or put the charge too high where it could be dangerous to the person using the device. Surely in the history of the device more than a few people got an electric shock that was the opposite of helpful.
The History Of The TENS Unit
The concept of electric nerve stimulation is actually not a new therapy. This type of pain control was even used back in ancient Rome. Scribonius Largus was a Roman doctor who was a supporter of this treatment which they discovered it helped people using an “electric fish” that was found in the sea. Of course they didn’t know why this particular fish helped people, but it was an important discovery none the less. Electric eels were also on record as being used in this ancient time of early medical treatments. Creepy? Yes, but it was only the start of finding various odd treatments that were used as therapy to help people with many painful conditions. Hippocrates the father of Western medicine was also one who used this treatment successfully on many people in 350 BC in ancient greek times. So as you can see this was a prevalent form of treatment in many parts of the world.
In the late 1700’s, famed inventor Ben Franklin was said to be a supporter of this type of treatment. This makes perfect sense considering all the work he did with electricity, being fascinated by what electric currents could do for the body. In 1747 Ben came to the discovery that electricity is a fluid matter that can penetrate the body freely without destroying it in the process. This was a very important find that many pioneers in this type of medical technology drew on later to make their inventions work for the human body.
The Father Of Modern TENS Treatment
C. Norman Shealy is the person who is responsible for the type of modern TENS units we use today. He is an American Neurosurgeon who went to great lengths to develop pain management therapies for people who suffer from migraine headaches, nerve pain in various parts of the body especially the back, and other chronic pain from conditions such as gout.
He graduated from the medical school of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Spending three years at the Western Reserve School of Medicine is what led him to being able to develop the TENS device in the 70’s along with other important research on spinal cord therapies. After he was able to successfully use the device other companies picked up on his new product to develop TENS units of their own.
Shealy is still alive and working today out of his own clinic in Fair Grove, MO. Lately he has developed a keen interest in holistic medicine. The Shealy Institute has managed the pain of over 30,000 patients. He has a successful radio show daily where he helps callers with their chronic pain issues. Working the with Holos Institute has also allowed him to fuller research techniques in pain management. Overall this little device has been used worldwide in pain reduction. E stim therapy is still being used at his clinic, with patients committing to a minimum of eight hours of therapy for at least five days to treat bothersome conditions where traditional therapy isn’t working.
A number of books by Shealy have been published on this subject of electrotherapy including, “Living Bliss”, and “90 Days To Self Health” which chronicles the how Biogentics can help you have a better quality of life. With Dr. Shealy’s lifelong research and development of the TENS device, he has helped so many people have a better quality of life and he truly is a hero of modern medicine.
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