Anyone use/recommend TENS


Original Post
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Anyone here have any luck using a tens unit for muscle knots?

I'm specifically talking about using it on my upper back and mid back area.

Does it work, is it hype, what is a good brand, how much to spend?

And yes, I can probably find someone to stick the pads on my back for me.

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940

No experience withTENS but I have had great luck using peppermint essential oil for the same thing because it targets the nerves. Mix it with lemongrass to get a really good response from the tendon. Peppermint can also be used to calm the stomach so it has many purposes. Also the lemongrass/peppermint combo has helped me with sore throats but watch putting too much of that in your mouth and dont let it sit on your teeth, so rinse your mouth thoroughly and brush.

My first experience with peppermint was using it on a neck cramp: went from unable to look left to a full range of motion with only comparably mild discomfort in about 15 seconds, literally. It has also done the same thing with wrist cramps for me.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:Anyone here have any luck using a tens unit for muscle knots? I'm specifically talking about using it on my upper back and mid back area. Does it work, is it hype, what is a good brand, how much to spend? And yes, I can probably find someone to stick the pads on my back for me.
I have a Rehabilicare EMS+2 neuromuscular stimulator you can have, if you think it would do the trick and you want to try.

I used it to rehab a torn forearm muscle years ago and haven't touched it since.
I think it still works.

Just lmk.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:Anyone here have any luck using a tens unit for muscle knots? I'm specifically talking about using it on my upper back and mid back area. Does it work, is it hype, what is a good brand, how much to spend? And yes, I can probably find someone to stick the pads on my back for me.
They work edit(for me)... best used with heat pads. They are great at triggering supporting muscles that would otherwise be very difficult to stretch or work in my SI joint when I strain it.
Luna Luna · · New Haven, CT · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 55
JNE wrote:No experience withTENS but I have had great luck using peppermint essential oil for the same thing because it targets the nerves. Mix it with lemongrass to get a really good response from the tendon. Peppermint can also be used to calm the stomach so it has many purposes. Also the lemongrass/peppermint combo has helped me with sore throats but watch putting too much of that in your mouth and dont let it sit on your teeth, so rinse your mouth thoroughly and brush. My first experience with peppermint was using it on a neck cramp: went from unable to look left to a full range of motion with only comparably mild discomfort in about 15 seconds, literally. It has also done the same thing with wrist cramps for me.
TENS units can be expensive and have not been clinically shown to provide statistically significant improvement in muscle laxity or tonicity. they may help the patient "feel" more relaxed, yet do little to nothing for the muscle. heat or cold when applicable right on

essential oils can also be great but use caution when ingested, not all oils can be applied directly to the skin, dilution with a carrier oil (coconut, etc) will save your nervous system from damage
the molecular structure of the essential oils can cross the protective barrier around the human brain and create tiny holes which will allow for future pollutants to enter

i.e. do what works for you, essential oils, ice packs, and heating pads or a water bottle of boiled water are WAY cheaper than a tens unit
BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340

I just had this done on my back, when it went out 2 weeks ago. It feels awesome when it's being used..... but I'm not sold on the actual benefits of it for releasing the muscles.(my dr said unless it plugs in to a outlet it's a waste of your $) I've had the best luck/quickest results with myotherapy/trigger point massage.

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940
Luna wrote: TENS units can be expensive and have not been clinically shown to provide statistically significant improvement in muscle laxity or tonicity. they may help the patient "feel" more relaxed, yet do little to nothing for the muscle. heat or cold when applicable right on essential oils can also be great but use caution when ingested, not all oils can be applied directly to the skin, dilution with a carrier oil (coconut, etc) will save your nervous system from damage the molecular structure of the essential oils can cross the protective barrier around the human brain and create tiny holes which will allow for future pollutants to enter i.e. do what works for you, essential oils, ice packs, and heating pads or a water bottle of boiled water are WAY cheaper than a tens unit
Great info and thanks. Here is some more info.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Thanks for reminding about the oils. I've run across several people, including medical types, who swear by it. I'll do some research on that.

Mark, expect an email soon.

I am a bit assymetric, the erector muscles on my back on the left side are substantially larger and more painful than the right. My D.O. is coming up with a plan of attack. I ask about tens or e-stim because I had it work the one time I did it. The doc put needles in my back and shocked me through them and it helped a lot. The price of a tens unit isn't the major concern.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

If it's on one side have you considered seeing a movement therapist in addition to your DO? It usually seems that things like that coming from an imbalance somewhere downstream (or up stream in the case of our arm/shoulders).

I had lower back pain issues and for years did forward bending stretches with little change on the advice of an MD. Then I tried to run a trail marathon, was cut short by IT band pain. Saw a movement therapist, who found that my left glute medius had completely quit firing. They also noted that I had lordosis, but they said it had nothing to do with my erector muscles being tight. My psoas was totally locked up (likely from the desk job). They went through my abdomen and spent a good 40 minutes per side breaking up all the fascia around my psoas.
Over the course of a year I did the psoas release two more times. Did strict hanging leg lifts to strengthen psoas, one leg romanian deadlifts for glute major/core (after a long series of work getting glute medius firing again), and a series of stretches from my front hip flexors. Lower back pain has been gone for good, erector muscles are no longer tight, IT band pain never came back.

  • edit* not saying that any of what I had is related to your case, just pointing out that sometimes general practice physicians don't look further around your body and tend to treat a symptom that isn't the actual cause.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Definitely the reason I went to a DO rather than MD. I think we're heading off track here though.

I'm just asking if tens would work for relieving upper and mid back knots and spasms, and if it does, which models seem to work best.

Luna Luna · · New Haven, CT · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 55

Not a oersonal plug at all... but look into chiropractic too. A neuromusculartherapy (NMT) specialist may have some insight

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

Didn't mean to derail your thread there. I don't have feedback on any TENS system, but I can say that self myofascial release with a lacrosse ball has worked very well for my thoracic spine. I work lats with a foam roller.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

I had TENS for a shoulder injury. Loved it. People may say there is not clinical proof...but sometimes its all about the placebo effect. I am not kidding at all.

+1 for heat. Also, I like a lacrosse ball for my rhomboid muscle pain.

Doug Meneke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10

THEY WORK GREAT!!! I think I got insurance to pay for it (got the doctor to prescribe/recommend it). It has 2 double-wires for a left-side/right-side setup (2 or 4 pads) and has several pre-programmed settings. I put it on and next-to the muscled knots. I do stretching, etc after 10 minutes and take frequent hot showers (alternate hot/cold if a recent injury). I am in a very dry climate, so I use baby oil...but not where I need to hookup the pads. Pads are quite cheap in bulk ($10 for 20 pads?). I can use 1 set of pads non-stop for a week or so (sometimes less).

They work by sending electrical stimulus to the pads at different intervals and different intensities, causing the muscles to lightly spasm-relax-spasm-relax. I got mine in 2004 and still use it regularly. Be sure to turn the unit off before removing the pads. Your fingertips will DEFINITELY remind you if you dont.

Feel free to contact me for more info.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote: Mark, expect an email soon.
Incoming MP PMs are getting ruthlessly spam filtered, so email me direct or text.

If you've lost the address/number, just lmk on the thread.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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