Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) is a condition in which the nerves in the peripheral areas of the body, particularly the feet and hands are damaged to the degree that PN sufferers feel simultaneous sensations of numbness, burning, thousands of needles pricking and poking as if that part of their body is asleep, throbbing pain and impaired regular sensation. Over 42 Million Americans and 500 Million people on earth have Peripheral Neuropathy and unfortunately most people with PN either don’t know they have it or know very little about the condition. Although the cause of Peripheral Neuropathy are plentiful, the most common causes are:
- Consistently high blood glucose levels experienced by diabetics and pre-diabetics
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by poor diet especially processed foods
- Toxins introduced to the body through occupation, like chemicals or toxic fumes
- Trauma to the nerves particularly in the spine caused by an accident
- Chemotherapy toxins
How to relieve Peripheral Neuropathy pain and discomfort is a question that is constantly on the mind of the PN sufferer. The search for products and services that can help reduce the discomfort of PN seems almost never ending. Everyone is unique in the combinations of therapies that will work best for them. I have assessed a collection of TENS units and key accessories for treating the pain and discomfort of peripheral neuropathy. How to relieve Peripheral Neuropathy pain and discomfort is a question that is constantly on the mind of the PN sufferer.
What is TENS?
TENS is an acronym that stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. In its fundamental form it is a Direct Electrical Current that is pulsated at different frequencies and current intensities which have the effect of diminishing pain and discomfort of many types of conditions and is regarded as an effective peripheral neuropathy pain treatment. The current is created by placing electrodes on the targeted areas of the body that require pain relief and attaching wires from the electrodes to the TENS controller.
How Does TENS Help Reduce The Pain Of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Specifically transcutaneous electrical impulses modulate transmission of pain impulses to the brain by inhibiting presynaptic transmission of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, which directly inhibits nociceptive stimuli, thus limiting the sensation of pain to the brain. There may also be an element of endogenous pain control, via stimulation of enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins, these are the bodies natural hormones which when released are a natural form of analgesics. TENS provides one of the best pain relief for neuropathy treatments without medication.
TENS Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
There are some very specific issues to consider before buying a TENS unit for peripheral neuropathy. The key issue is to be able to target the areas of your body which are experiencing the PN pain and discomfort in a very convenient way. Often the electrodes that come with a TENS unit have difficulty sticking and stay attached to the skin in areas of the body that have curves and some movement like the ankle bone area.
The Mayo clinic recommends that any specific area of the body being treated with TENS for peripheral neuropathy be treated for 30 minutes per day. Although there is an immediate analgesic effect of TENS for peripheral neuropathy, it may take up to 30 days of treatment in order to feel an ongoing lessening of the pain and discomfort to take effect.
TENS Unit (Controller)
The TENS unit is the brains of the TENS system in that it not only provides the electrical impulses but it is also a computer in that it may have pre-programmed electrical impulse regimes for different types of treatments. In addition, some units come with more capabilities for preprogrammed frequency and intensity.
Some things to consider are whether the unit is rechargeable or uses disposable batteries. Clearly the rechargeable unit will cost less over time, unless of course you use rechargeable external batteries in which case it boils down to the convenience of just plugging the unit into the AC for recharging as opposed to replacing the batteries.
Most units come with dual channels which means that you will be able to set up two points on your body which will be simultaneously treated. There are units however that come with dual isolated channels which means that you can have two different programs treating the two different parts of your body independently. An example would be running the acupuncture TENS mode on one of your arms while running the massage mode on one of your legs.
The number of modes should also be considered. The more modes on the TENS unit, the more you will be able to experiment as to which mode cycle works best for your condition.
In terms of the products available on the market there are several variations. A company called Ultima has put together a complete system whether for the feet, hands, legs or arms, the system addresses targeted areas of your body that you want to treat with TENS specifically for peripheral neuropathy.
Ultima Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Systems[amzpsc id=”4″]
There are several different individual TENS units that you can compare as I have provided the comparison chart below for the TENS units while also providing additional product information for TENS slippers, socks and gloves following the information in the chart.
TENS Units Compared for Peripheral Neuropathy[amzpsc id=”3″]
TENS slippers for Peripheral Neuropathy
If you only have PN in your feet then you should consider using TENS slippers which are very easy to slip into and which have the electrodes distributed throughout several points, usually 4, on the sole of the slipper. This provides a convenient way of applying TENS treatment to the feet as all you have to do is slip into them. Given the multiple electrodes built right in to the slipper, a more distributed sensation with TENS can be applied to the foot. The slippers available on the market were designed for the HealthmateForever brand of TENS units however they work properly with any TENS controller unit as long as the wire leads have a snap on female end where the electrode pads are normally connected.[amzps id=”41″]
TENS Socks for Peripheral Neuropathy
An even better and more thorough way to distribute the electrical impulses to the feet are to use TENS socks. These socks have silver fibres meshed in with the other clothing fibres of the sock. This enables the electrical impulses of the TENS unit to be evenly distributed throughout the sock, thus your foot, and target the area you are experiencing PN pain and discomfort more efficiently and effectively.[amzpsc id=”5″]
TENS Gloves for Peripheral Neuropathy
For those PN sufferers who are experiencing the pain and discomfort of PN in their hands, TENS gloves are recommended. Like TENS socks, TENS gloves will distribute a the TENS electrical impulses throughout the glove which will provide a more thorough targeting of the entire hand with the TENS treatment for peripheral neuropathy.[amzpsc id=”6″]
TENS Electrode Pads for Peripheral Neuropathy
For those PN sufferers who experience the pain and discomfort of PN in their legs, arms or torso, use of electrode pads will be the best option to target the areas which are experiencing the pain and discomfort. Pads can last for up to 15 uses if you take care of them and that means cleaning your skin with soap and water or rubbing alcohol before you place the pads on your skin and cleaning the sticky surface of the pad by just rubbing water on the surface with your finger when you see that it is contaminated with dust, dirt or hair. Also consider purchasing some electrode gel as it will make your electrodes last much longer if used regularly by applying a thin coat of gel on the electrode before each use.[amzpsc id=”8″]
Although there are numerous peripheral neuropathy pain treatment options which address the question of how to relieve peripheral neuropathy pain, TENS treatment for neuropathy has proven over the past decades to be a valuable option that works for most sufferers.