If you are a patient who is living with sciatic pain, your health professional treating your condition might have suggested that you start transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy. This form of therapy, most often referred to as the much less daunting TENS therapy, has a solid history in providing patients with the pain relief that they so desperately need.
As with any new medical procedure or course of treatment, it is important that you have the most current information at your fingertips so that you can be involved in your own treatment plan. Let’s take a look first at what sciatic pain is, and how a TENS unit can provide you with a method of pain treatment and pain control.
Understanding What Sciatic Pain Is
Many pregnant women will be well familiar with the types of aches and muscle pains that accompany the miracle of life, including sciatic pain that can often last long after the pregnancy has come to term. Sciatic pain, or sciatica, is a type of pain that originates in the patient’s lower back. The pain radiates from the lower back and down through the patient’s buttocks through the sciatic nerve that runs down the back part of the leg. Severe forms of sciatica can prove to be very debilitating and could present with the following symptoms.
- A sudden sharp pain on one side of the patient’s buttock; the patient may find it difficult to get up from standing or even to walk.
- A constant pain on one side of the patient’s lower back.
- A sensation of numbness, burning, or a feeling of weakness in one leg.
As with many conditions, the types of pain and discomfort experienced may differ between patients – so be sure to mention to the medical professional monitoring your condition if you experience any new symptoms or an increase in the intensity of the pain.
How an Electrical Nerve Stimulator Can Help
The TENS system is a small portable device that uses a low levels of electrical stimulation to provide pain relief to patients who are suffering from several types of pain, including rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain, and a range of other forms of bone and joint pain.
During use, sticky electrodes will be attached directly to the skin of the patient in the affected area; the electrodes will then be attached to the TENS machine itself. There are two types of therapy that a health professional will utilize during a therapy session: both low frequency stimulation, and a higher frequency.
The electrical nerve stimulation unit operates by essentially sending new messages to the patient’s brain via the nerves that are telling the brain that there is pain. By making slight alterations to the messages that are being sent to the brain, the TENS machine will be able to help patients achieve a level of pain relief that does not include the need to use prescription medications. Unlike potentially addictive prescription pain medications, the TENS device offers the properties of natural painkillers by using the body’s own ability to block and reduce pain using endorphins. With the exception of a very mild tingling sensation at the site of the electrodes, patients should experience zero side-effects from using this form of chronic pain relief.
Is TENS Therapy Right for You
While electrical stimulation therapy may just prove to be a highly effective method of treating your sciatic pain, there are several health conditions that may disqualify you from being an ideal candidate for TENS therapy.
- Pregnant women who are experiencing sciatic pain should first discuss their condition with the obstetrician who is monitoring their pregnancy. While there is no conclusive evidence pointing to any negative effects on an unborn baby, it is still a good idea for a pregnant woman to avoid using a TENS unit unless directed to do so by her physician.
- Patients who use a pacemaker should never use a TENS device as it could interfere with the lifesaving functionality of their pacemaker.
- Heart disease patients and those who suffer from high blood pressure should not use an electrical stimulator unless the therapy has been approved by their attending physicians.
- Patients who have severe spinal pain as a result of a serious medical condition should not use TENS therapy unless instructed to.
Before you start any new form of treatment for your sciatic pain you should ensure that you have disclosed all of your current and prior medical conditions that may be relevant to the pain that you are experiencing now. Your health professional can only prescribe an effective form of treatment for you if he is well aware of what has or hasn’t worked for you in the past.
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