Pain is something that at some point, we all have to deal with. Whether it’s back pain, hand pain, muscle aches, it happens. Sometimes regular over the counter painkillers just don’t work well enough, and taking them too much can wreak havoc on your digestive tract.
A TENS unit targets the nerves to help release pain. It has been used for many types of pain for some time now, but it also be used for the pain associated with carpal tunnel.
Will A TENS Unit Help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Using a TENS unit to help ease the pain of carpal tunnel has proven to be effective for many people. Carpal tunnel causes swelling around the wrist area, so before turning to TENS treatment, try an application of an ice pack for a few minutes a day to reduce the swelling on your wrist.
TENS works by stopping the nerve signals from reaching the brain so using TENS for carpal tunnel is very effective, and it is a non-invasive treatment for pain. TENS treatments do not hurt and the electrodes can be put on your hand and wrist. It will create a tingling, almost massage-like sensation in the area that the electrodes are placed.
Many TENS units also come with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), which work in tandem with the nerve signal reducing swelling around the median nerve of the wrist.
Can I Use A TENS Unit On My Hands?
TENS units can be used on any part of the body that is feeling pain, hands included. Anywhere you are feeling pain, you can place the electrodes. For hands, the popular places to place the electrodes are the palm beneath the thumb, and the center of the back of the hand.
TENS Placement For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
As you can see in the above picture you will want to place the first electrode pad in the middle of your palm and place the second electrode pad right beneath the wrist area. Make sure to press firmly to ensure a good connection with the TENS device.
Now flip over your hand and place the first electrode pad on the top of your hand while the second electrode pad is placed below the wrist bone.
If you have small hands and the electrode pad is too big you can trim the electrode pad. Please see my article here about how to properly cut an electrode pad.
Want to know where else you can place a TENS unit? Here are some common TENS electrode pad placements:
Best TENS Unit For Carpal Tunnel
This is the exact TENS unit that I use. It is perfect for alleviating many common types of pain especially carpal tunnel. The iReliev is a great little device and has a lot going for it. It has 8 TENS programs and most important 6 EMS programs to choose from. The EMS deliver quick pain relief from carpal tunnel.
You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality TENS unit and iReliev gives you a ton of value for the price being paid. Best part is they are based in Dallas, Texas and have phenomenal customer service FREE shipping and delivery in less than 5 days. Get yours today on the iReliev website by clicking here.
Can I Use A TENS Unit On My Wrist?
TENS units can be used on any part of the body that is feeling pain, wrists included. Electrodes can be placed on the front and back of the wrist, or on the wrist and hand in conjunction with each other.
What Is Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel occurs when the nerves in the wrists become compressed due to pressure on the median nerve.
When this nerve gets compressed it can cause numbness and tingling in the hands, weakness in the fingers, and an electric shock feeling in the hand.
On the milder side of things, simple lifestyle changes can help quell the symptoms of carpal tunnel. But on the more extreme side, some people end up needing surgery to fix their compressed nerves.
What Is A TENS Unit?
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Tens units use a mild electric current to help relieve pain in the nerves.
Small, sticky electrodes are attached to the skin and small electric impulses are sent to the affected area of the body to help relieve pain.
The electrical impulses reduce the pain signals being sent to your brain and spinal cord which lessens the amount of pain you will be feeling. The machines may also trigger endorphins which can help reduce pain as well.
What Type Of Pain Is TENS Best For?
TENS units are effective for acute pain, but chronic pain should be assessed by a doctor to find the underlying problem before settling on TENS treatment.
TENS treatment has been proven effective for postoperative pain, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and spinal cord injury. It can also be effective for arthritis, period pain, as well as pelvic pain caused by endometriosis.
Typically, TENS therapy is used for muscle pain, joint pain, and bone pain but is frequently used for many other ailments in treatment.
It can be useful for migraines and osteoarthritis as well.
Are There Risks To Using A TENS Unit?
Most people do not have negative side effects or reactions to TENS treatment, but the buzzing tingling sensation the electrodes creates is not appealing to everyone and some people find the sensation uncomfortable.
- Always check with your physician before using a TENS unit to ensure that it is the treatment plan best for your unique pain.
- Those who have pacemakers or other electrical device implants should not use TENS machines as the electrical current from the unit can interfere with electrical implants.
- If you have DVT, heart problems, epilepsy, cancer, or fragile skin, check with your doctor before using a TENS unit.
- TENS units can’t be used on the eyes, front of the neck, or on the head.
- TENS units should not be used if you’re pregnant, driving, or if your skin is damp or wet.
- If you intend to use a TENS unit while flying, you must first inform the airline.
- TENS units may cause redness of the skin and itchiness which should subside after some time, but if this skin irritation persists, stop using the unit and contact a doctor for further advice.
Benefits Of Using A TENS Unit
TENS units are non-invasive pain relief which can reduce the need to partake in consuming\ pain medications which can be addictive to many people.
The units are small and portable and can be carried in one’s pocket or purse to use at will. The unit can be used as frequently as you need and with its portability, quick pain relief is at your fingertips.
Can A TENS Unit Make Pain Worse?
When you use a TENS machine, at first the sensation will subside a little and you can turn the settings up a little for the rest of the time you use the machine.
However, if you use the machine on too high a setting it can cause some over-stimulation which can make the pain feel worse. Too high a setting can also cause some skin burns, so always start your electric settings low and work your way very slowly up.
Also don’t leave the pads on your skin for too long.
The adhesive can be irritating to some people’s skin and the units are not meant to be used for long periods of time, at a time. Read How High Can I Set My TENS Unit here
Can TENS Cure My Pain?
If you are feeling chronic pain from carpal tunnel, TENS therapy will not be able to cure your ailment.
TENS treatment is meant to be used to temporarily relieve pain so you can go about your daily life without being halted by pain.
Underlying causes of chronic pain should be investigated by a doctor and treated appropriately based on your doctor’s recommendation.
You can use their suggestions for treatment alongside the use of a TENS unit to relieve the pain of a chronic disease or recovery treatment.
Is TENS Treatment Safe?
Yes! TENS treatment is not only approved by the FDA but it has been a common pain treatment for over 30 years.
Physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists often recommend using TENS units to treat a lot of different kinds of pain. TENS units can also be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies without needing a prescription.
TENS units are a great therapy for most types of pain. They are easy to use, accessible, and don’t run the same risks as other pain medications do.
If you have pain caused by carpal tunnel, TENS therapy can be a great option for you to help relieve some of the pain on your wrists and hands.