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ALS Worldwide welcomes any questions or comments you might have.  We provide free, personalized and confidential support services to anyone in the ALS community—whether you are a patient or a loved one, friend, health care professional or caregiver of someone diagnosed.

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ALS Worldwide
5808 Dawley Drive
Fitchburg, WI 53711‑7209

ALS Worldwide
November 07, 2016

TENS Units Stimulate Muscles and Relieve Pain

“I find that using my TENS unit does help significantly with muscle pain. I can always tell when I take a break from it, so it must be working! I think it's a worthwhile investment and a good alternative to drug treatments.”

Bhamini Singh
New York, USA

In contrast to earlier beliefs, many people with ALS do experience different levels of pain in various parts of their body, particularly the lower back and legs. While this may be due to inactivity or muscle tension, finding ways to relieve the pain improves quality of life.

For several thousand years, people have recognized that electrical stimulation can have an impact on pain. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used electric fish to cause numbness, and a report of gout being “cured” by accidental contact with a fish called an electric ray dates back to the first century.

Today, we have the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit, first introduced to ALS Worldwide by Dr. Raymond Onders, Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Director, Adult Minimally Invasive Surgery at UH Cleveland Medical Center. Dr. Onders has been using the TENS unit successfully with ALS patients for many years.

There are several models available that are used to treat many types of pain, including chronic back and neck pain. TENS units are able to control the amount of electrical current needed to stimulate the nerve endings with surface electrodes placed over the area causing pain.

The rationale behind using a TENS unit for pain control and muscle stimulation is fairly simple. Low level stimulation blocks the pain signals at the source from reaching the brain. Once the correct level of stimulation is found, relief is fairly rapid. The downside is that this method of treatment does not have long lasting results. Once the TENS unit is removed, pain recurs. However it is a relatively inexpensive and well-tolerated treatment option with few side effects.

More information about the TENS unit is available at the following websites:

Healthline.com
WebMD.com
Arthritis.com

Several models are available for purchase on Amazon and at Walgreens and Walmart.  Here are just a few models to explore.  All cost between $50 and $75.

Santamedical
TruMedic
AccuRelief