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By: Miguel Solis

Getting To Know TENS Units and TENS Unit Pads

Getting To Know TENS Units and TENS Unit Pads

Body pain is one of the most common conditions people treat in hospitals and at home. In fact, there are many ways to treat different kinds of pain. For example, muscle pain can be relieved using massage or hot/cold compresses, knee pain can be reduced by applying ointments, stomach or abdominal pain can be addressed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and the list goes on. A popular, new pain reliever is the use of electrical current to stimulate nerves.

This idea is hardly something new. It was reportedly first practiced hundreds of years ago when Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used electric fish to cause numbness. During the 1st Century, records indicate that an electric eel cured gout through accidental contact. It was only in the 18th Century that a formal device was invented. This machine is called the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Unit.

One of the weaknesses of earlier devices was the varying amount of electricity delivered. With a TENS unit, the electrical current is controlled for much better nerve ending stimulation. According to the MedicineNet website, TENS units work promptly but it might take some time for users to discover the right amount of stimulation. Most TENS units are also portable, making them more convenient. Even though this machine can be purchased without a prescription, medical experts recommend seeking the advice of a doctor before using a TENS unit.

To achieve the maximum performance out of a TENS unit, use high-quality TENS unit pads. These are replaceable pads pressed against the skin area where nerve stimulation is desired. Most TENS unit pads, also known as electrodes, are offered in a 2” square design. Sellers also offer them in other sizes such as butterfly shapes for larger areas, or rounded pads for smaller areas. The electrodes should be replaced every one to three months, depending on their adhesiveness. As long as they stick properly to the skin, the pads can still be used.

Most TENS unit users are concerned about how to prolong the life of their TENS unit pads. According to the TENS Unit Hub website, the most common reason for electrodes losing their adhesiveness is not cleaning the skin area before sticking the pad. This results in dirt or oil sticking to the pad as well, making it filthy and less adhesive. At times, this can still be cleared by cleaning, but the pad might not possess its original adhesiveness anymore.

Many users have shared several tips on how to maintain the adhesiveness of their TENS unit pads on social media. The first suggestion is to clean the skin with soap and water before applying the pad. It also helps to shave the skin to avoid hair sticking to the electrode. Moreover, the TENS unit pads should be cleaned with a damp cloth. It’s best to avoid using cleaning materials that may leave a residue.

Self-adhesive electrodes need to be hydrated, but it’s important that they don’t become oversaturated; just a drop of water will moisten a TENS unit pad. Meanwhile, users must allow their electrodes to dry off after each use. Electrodes should be removed from the skin after six hours, and they should be dried in a cool environment. Other users have also shared how effective electrode gels are in extending the life of their TENS unit pads. These types of gels are applied to the pads before the pads are applied to the skin; the gel helps to better conduct electricity to the skin.

If after these measures your TENS unit pads are still not sticking properly, it may be an indication that they need to be replaced. There are sellers who offer these pads in bulk at a cheaper price which may be an option to consider in order to save money.

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