Zappity zap, the pros and cons of self-electrocution (Or, the TENS machine).

Hiya net-o-sphere,

I have had a few days off because I have transformed into a moody sod. If my moods could cycle any faster I’d look like a personification of a tornado. I think I have managed to developed frown lies over the last week. I have often suffered from hyper-arousal with my moods (Unfortunately that does not mean a lot of sex, which is the connotation it conjures..) no, I am hyper-aware of my surroundings. Lights are too bright, the dark is too dark and makes me squint. I desperately want to smash the radio and television because it dares to omit sounds that offend my ears. All my clothes are hurting my skin and I can’t get comfortable. Even smoking is not fun at the moment because it is like smoking a cigar when it is one, pathetic roll-up with budget baccy.

It is yet another symptom connected to depression/anxiety. Go figure. Speaking of which I found a really good forum or Social Anxiety Disorder the other day. Check it out if you are also scared of everything, it is a pretty active and diverse web board and one of the best I have yet to find on the topic; Social Anxiety Support Forum.

Now, on to the topic for today’s post. Reviews of stuff.

Pain. I do not like it. (who does?) I found this nifty diagram which pretty much explains it all;

Typically when you are in pain you try a lot of things to make it stop. One of the many things I tried is a TENS machine. (And this ultimatley beats curling into a ball and withdrawing from life.)

TENS machines look a bit like this –

I have had three, my first one looked like a replica of the above. It was given to me by a pain clinic. When I broke it (they are not very hardy to hitting walls..I couldn’t get the batteries in right and pain tends to shorten my already non-existent fuse) I went out and replace it with one from Boots; this one if you want to be exact

They are very very easy to use and work for lots of different pain going from a sprain to chronic back pain. The sticky tabs can go pretty much anywhere on your body (just NOT your eye, don’t piss about with this machine.. electricity and eyeballs in not a fun mix). I generally use mine of my upper and lower back or my lower back and legs. (Note, you can also get special ones from menstrual cramps and a maternity one. I can vouch that the bog standard pain one works just as well for period induced cramps and it does the special one, if not better, I road tested my friends to compare. I do not have the foggiest about the pain of growing a baby though and the closest I have got is a binge induced food baby bump and while the appearance is similar I am led to believe the experience is entirely different.)

Diagram showing where you can stick all the sticky thing..(although, as fun as it looks, you can only use four at once and thus wearing it at Halloween to look like a bio-medical raving leopard is out.)


There is a slight difference between the one pictured in this post (the one given out typically by pain clinics) and the Buy Your Own Boots one. The first one has knobs on (titter) while the second has buttons to increase the intensity of the shocks you are giving yourself. I actually find the buttons better and you are less likely to fiddle mindlessly with the and give yourself a massive and unexpected shock. You can be more precise with the Boots one and therefore the effects last for longer.

Does the TENS reduce pain?

I’d say yes. It does. It takes some time to kick in but after using it for about a hour or so I find it easier to sit up/stand up straighter. I have better, more fluid movements and slightly less pain. It relaxes your muscles which means you do not tense them as much which is a major factor which adds to pain symptoms. The problem I find is that I get used to it very quickly, after a week of using the machine I have to turn the shocks up dramatically to feel the same effect. It is adivsed that you do not use it constantly or for more than a hour or two per session so that it continues to be effective. This is irritating as when the relief wears off the pain increases tenfold and I sometimes wonder the point in decreasing pain in the first place. It is really good though If I want to get a task done and can’t because of the pain. As a (rather pathetic) example, the other day the dishes needed doing but I literally could not stand at the sink. After an hour of rotting my mind with HEAT magazine (yes, i know) and zapping myself with the TENS I was able to clean stuff. Good thing.

The other draw back of the TENS is the damn sticky pads. They are kinda moist rather than properly sticky and you have to return them to the clear sheet you are given so they remain this way. After a few uses they become much less moist and thus do not stick to your body nearly as well and the machine beeps at you constantly because you are not properly connected. I think the machine itself is pretty well priced for what it does and the batteries last a surprisingly long time but the sticky pads need replacing about once every 10 to 14 seven quid for four this is expensive and annoying. I am not that good at remembering either, so I typically buy in bulk – which is cheaper, but not if you have a tendency to put the damn things in a ‘safe place’ which then disappears without explanation.

Lastly – the belt clip. It is hand that it has one as it means you can hide it under clothes if you do not have a pocket. However it is inveitable that you will get the wires dangling out and almost impossible not to get the caught on doors/handles/chairs/the dog/other people .. and having them yanked out your back in a nasty surprise which then involves much fiddling to get it all plugged back in again. I broke my second Boots one because It fell on the floor after being caught on a door handle. I think if Boots were to make them a bit more hardy it’d save me a lot of money…but then, that probably isn’t thier main intrest.

Overall I would recommend this to anyone who has pain/an injury that is muscular and ongoing. The annoyances listed above are fairly minor when compared to the actual relief from pain. It is also a fun party trick when you learn how to covertly zap your family and is amazing how many people when asked, ‘would you like an electric shock’ will nod their heads eagerly..the look on their faces is priceless.  If you have a TENS machine please comment and let me know what you think of yours.

I’ll probably update more later with some other words and stuff, but for now I am going to go drink Green Tea (look! I am healthy!) and zap myself into a pain-free bliss cloud. That is assuming I can locate the ‘safe place’ I put my damn sticky pads in!


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  1. #1 by Snaffle on January 10, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    Eeee, the blog has grown significantly since last time I checked! I’m catching up 🙂 My dad has a Tens machine for back pain, I tried it out once on a pulled muscle and it just tickled a lot, like caterpillars were wriggling up the inside of my arm…

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