TENS Unit, microcurrent unit, tVNS, PEMF & other body electrotherapy

Does anyone use a tens unit for pain management? If so could I get your feed back? I have an Appointment to get one and wonder if it really helps?

I use one for pain relief. I get good relief for the back pain, mixed relief when I use it for pain in other areas. It did take a while to figure out just where to put the electrodes and where to set the controls. The biggest thing that flusters me about using it is dealing with the wires that connect the machine to the electrodes.

Good luck, I hope it helps you.

Thank you! I’m hoping it can help. Mostly looking for help with my lower back and neck.

Hi Foxxy, my husband bought a tens unit. He has fibro too, but also has bursitus, and a pinched nerve in his neck. He says it helps his shoulders. I have tried it and it didn't help my fibro at all. He and I have totally different pain levels, I didn't know 2 people with fibro could be so different. I did use it on my neck once, after waking up with a stiff neck. It works great for me in this case. You'll probably find some like it, I think everyone pain is unique. Is there anyway you could try one before purchasing it? That would be ideal, if possible. If it doesn't work you're not out any money. Good luck, Charlie :)

I’ve had the electrode therapy before at my chiropractor and during physical therapy and I do get some relief. I also have a bad trigger point between my left shoulder blade that gets so bad nothing relieves the pain. So I’m hoping it will help that as well.

I have used Tens Units a number of times; also a larger called a muscle response stimulator. Never had much relief from either. Felt good while on but didn’t last when I turned them off . Good Luck! :slight_smile:

Hello, : ) I have a tens unit. Anything that will give some relief even if it’s not a lot, is worth it. I haven’t used mine in so long because we moved a couple times and I forgot about it! My friend mentioned it to me in conversation and I still forgot about it!
Lol your post reminded me of it again and I immediately got it from my closet and put it on! : ) it helps while your using it.

I have bad lower back pain as well. Yes the wires are a bummer but if I wear something with pockets I find that putting the unit in the pocket along with the left over wires helps a lot. : )

The person that gave me consult on the tens unit told me NEVER TO PUT IT ANYWHERE NEAR MY UPPER BACK BECAUSE OF THE HEART BEING TOO CLOSE AND DEFINATLY NO WHERE NEAR YOUR CHEST. MAKE SURE YOU ASK ABOUT THAT SO THEY CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU.

I hope you can find relief with it. Feel free to put in a friend request and keep me updated on how it works for you. Take care Fibroerr

Hi there Foxxy and welcome! It's good to have you here on this site.

Some people do get relief from it but not everyone. I'm one of the ones who did not get relief from it. It looks like a mixed bag, although you later say that you've used one before in a medical setting and it did help some, so that's a plus. If it's not too expensive for you, it might be a handy tool to use in your pain management.

Warmly,

Petunia

I’ve decided to keep in depth posts on body electrotherapy separate from brain stimulation which includes neurostimulation.

TENS Unit - Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Mixed experiences on this thread starting 2013: a bit of help while it’s on, say quite a few.
Putting the unit & left over wires in a pocket helps, said Loveandfaith.
First time I heard of the caveat of not going close to the heart as she says.
However all electrotherapy triggers my focal seizures, that’s my caveat. Similarly @SK1 said they ‘shoot her right off the table, even on low’.
May deflect some of the pain sensation, according praps to the Gate Theory of pain that only certain amount of pain can be sensed, so some is overridden.
As the thread title from 2013 says (Does anyone know why TENS units are being discontinued? They are such a wonderful alternative to pain meds): jdixon was very worried having definitely heard multiple times that they were going to be completely discontinued. @Sheila_W found out at least that it was ‘only’ some (20) brands at that time. Renie’s ideas were that maybe they were going to be combined with other electrotherapy like EMS and that insurance companies were no longer covering them. She also found an ultrasound machine for @Petunia_Girl. Sheila: did you ever try it? I can’t remember it being named, but think I might have had some at some physio somewhere. jdixon said they hardly worked.
A link to conductive garments by Waterswaves Conductive Garments | Garment Electrodes | Medi-Stim, Inc. shows an addition to a TENS or similar electrotherapy units (Muscle Stims, Interferential, Microcurrent, and High Volt Galvanic) for people who have skin reactions from the electrodes or need a larger area treated, siskiya names suppliers as well as massage machines that she compares to TENS (probly very different tho), and also says it’s worth having one extra, as they can break, also recommends acupuncture, unless it ‘hits a nerve’. Sandi1 has the tip of wetting the sticky gel & keeping it in the fridge. The most mentioned brand was EMPI.
As TENS units are still being used, without being combined with anything else, the problem seems only to be the insurance one, due to lack of sufficient evidence. EMS is for stimulating muscles, not for blocking pain.
It doesn’t just work 1) by nerve stimulation (competing sensory neurons at the pain perception gate), but also 2) by the release of endogenous opioids.

Tens unit update Powerful, so low settings, <35$.

@rosebud74 got a paingone tens pen after it helped @Sheila_W, but it was too hard to use and treats an even smaller area than a normal TENS unit. The conductive garments mentioned above might be the right thing for you, rosebud? (@Lmd added that as opposed to TENS/electrotherapy you can get acupressure type pens that may help ‘at times’.)

PEMF (Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy)

2018 Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the treatment of pain and other symptoms in fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled study - PubMed Didn’t appear efficient for FM.
Comment on: Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy in the Treatment of Pain and Other Symptoms in Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Controlled Study - PubMed / https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.22224 Comment argues that might’ve been due to electro-smog?!?
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy - Wikipedia

Germany: BEWEI = radio frequency therapy, i.e. PEMF at radio frequencies

(My wife just pointed an electrotherapy form out in a German newspaper ad, with a sort of brand name BEWEI, where it says “also called radio frequency therapy” and is combined with lymphatic drainage in a cosmetic studio, but is also or comes from pain/osteoarthritis treatment. Which is extremely funny considering that BEWEI stands for BEauty WEllness Innovation! :crazy_face: Only reputable link I can find is a German neurosurgeon who claims it’s normal for pain, whilst the English wikipedia Medical applications of radio frequency - Wikipedia it implies that radio frequency (RF) therapy is part of PEMF, which can also be at extreme low or ultra low frequencies, ELF, ULF.
Just have to add here that I like the abbreviation PEMF as it reminds me of EMF’s (only real) hit “Unbelievable”.

Hi, tens was too strong for me, so i got a microcurrent unit…more gentle…and it helps a fair amount…ff my pain is ramping up…i can quickly dial it back and within seconds my breathing changes

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Thanks for the reminder, I’ve got it on the treatment list, but forgot it here… up top it only says “microcurrent” without explanation. Is the gadget roughly the same as the TENS too?

Its a similar unit , with electrodes…

Tens at the lowest setting was just too much for me🙄

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Is there a tens unit you can wrap around your whole body??? :joy::rofl:

Tadaaaahh :partying_face:: Errh yes, as I wrote above!:

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Again… Way to go JayCS!!! :clap::partying_face:

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tVNS = transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation

is something I hadn’t much looked into, but it belongs here. I’m not sure about the difference between microcurrent and that, because both are reduced TENS units…
This is a collection of information I’ve written elsewhere:

tVNS vs. TENS - The “How To” of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation - YouTube
So this video is about tVNS devices (“Parasym”) which are low level low range TENS units attached to the ear with a clip. If t = T, both ‘transcutaneous’. At 3’17’’ it says the specific tVNS units cost £600 (the video was uploaded July 2022), whilst an expensive TENS unit which might be able to be adjusted to this low range costs £80 and the clip for it £40. On the site of the UK TENS company she recommends I can find neither a tVNS unit nor a TENS unit with a suitable program, altho the video was uploaded 3 weeks ago. To me it sounds like hard to get. Or maybe you need to phone them for advice.
On Optimizehealth365 they start talking about tVNS, then recommend a certain TENS unit, and then say as it’s hard to get a tVNS unit you have to do a bit of DIY work on it, which doesn’t sound at all easy…
If it is hard to get and there is hardly any medical evidence then it is last in line for anyone who wants success with their symptoms.
Also I’m specifically wondering what the difference is between a microcurrent unit and a tVNS unit, since both are low level and low range. Looking for a microcurrent unit seems more promising than a tVNS unit.
In the video and in 1-2 studies it says tVNS may be helpful for epilepsy. However above TENS site warns people with epilepsy. From own experience I’m very wary.
Bottom line for me from all this is, incl. that video: tVNS may be of interest to someone who has tried >100 treatment types (like myself), but completely off the grid for someone just starting. If it initiates great hope, it very likely even greater disappointment.

But actually there are a few preliminary studies on pubmed showing that maybe it is the case:
Parasympathetic Reactivity in Fibromyalgia and Temporomandibular Disorder: Associations With Sleep Problems, Symptom Severity, and Functional Impairment, 2015.
However they relate this to the TMD, no people are examined without it, and they relate it to psychosocial factors. On the other hand they are looking at CVD problems, which again fits to you. The respiratory sinus arrhythmia they refer to is of course fairly normal, and nothing like yours.
This article from 2020
Reduced activity, reactivity and functionality of the sympathetic nervous system in fibromyalgia: An electrodermal study
despite concentrating on the sympathetic nervous system (using sweating as an indicator symptom) at the beginning mentions “Previous studies found reduced parasympathetic activity and sympathetic reactivity to physical and stress manipulations.” and
“This evidence suggests reduced parasympathetic and sympathetic autonomic activity and reactivity in FMS.” (and another more similar but more complicated quote, if you’re interested)

“GERD has a direct impact on the vagus nerve…”
From reading it up, it seems it’s all very hypothetical, not well proven, a hunch.
I’m also not sure which way round it might be, or if it is a vicious circle/cycle.
Two pages say it’s the vagus that impacts the stomach motility, building acid up. Interesting take on it.
The 3rd says that too, but that the acid again stimulates the vagus nerve, which can cause problems in sinuses, larynx & pharynx.
However the 1st page by a DO says reducing carbs will help, which I’ve done for decades.
Also I doubt GERD / all hyperacidity is caused by the vagus nerve.
But I’ll have a go at the vagus nerve exercises for this I was actually recommending…

I learnt and practiced vagal ear exercises yesterday and adapted them tonight.
My main problem with them is that they strain my body, esp. if I try to do the full 2x30’’ Sukie suggests.
I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I have to hold my arms up that long and exert a little bit of pressure or whether it’s just that the vagal nerve isn’t my problem. It seemed to make me jittery. So after similar problems the first 3 times at night I decreased to 2x15’'. Which was OK and did cause the “sigh” effect like Yoga Nidra and other relaxation, but didn’t help sleep more. Again the strain on my arms made it necessary to develop positions where I don’t have to hold them up, like if it’s the ear I’m not lying on to “wedge” one arm supporting the other with it. I didn’t detect any difference in breathing, heart thump etc. (Not like acupressure for immediately stopping panting does for instance.) But miamisunset, I’d still recommend you trying it, since you were emphasizing the vagal connection in your case.

One of the 2(?) videos on youtube about vagal nerve and fibromyalgia is a fibromite (In spite of F.) recommending a TENS unit for nerve problems, pain etc, and she . I get seizures from electrotherapy, so I forgot it. But that video and someone talking about her nerve pain and wondering if she should … take some exotic flower without any evidence… :wink: has made me remember. Someone else uses it for all kinds of tingling and nerve pains. That youtuber also uses a cold wet washcloth on her forehead for vagal anxiety - sort of the baby version of my cold showers… . Also humming “Om” for a vocal chord stimulation, but also gargling with warm water etc.
The other one has “6 Easy Vagus Nerve Resets” is similar: 1) Deep belly breathing, 2) Humming, 3) Deep Belly Laughing, 4) Gargling with water, this time cold… 5) Massaging Sides of Neck 6) Prayer

Of the 6 Easy Vagus Nerve Resets I’ve listed above, I’m thinking for night times 2) Humming (Om) 5) Massaging Sides of Neck & 6) Prayer would be some things I could do at night in addition to all the Yoga Nidra techniques.

If jumping is also good for the vagal nerve:
My acupressurist taught me a jolt jump technique that may be a good comprimise. From maybe a sitting position you jump up just once (or twice) and jolt yourself on your heels with straight knees as you normally would never do. Sends a jolt thru the whole body. Another exercise of hers was to loosen yourself like a jointed doll or something and bob up and down on your toes - just a little is enough. Quick relaxation of all muscles etc. Both even OK and good for me at night as both can be done in 5 seconds without stirring up your blood. And funny and silly, with your arms flailing around in all directions. Laughing welcomed. Face with tears of joy :joy: Sort of “laughing micro- or nano yoga”. (BTW Why don’t we fibromites talk micro yoga more? = Suksham Yoga/Vyayam, e.g. youtuber manoyogi, or for finger nerves problems etc. youtuber Stock Market Guru. I actually meant it in the sense I do yoga tho: Everything in 10-20 second stints, much shorter than usual.)

tVNS unit = “Parasym” TM Parasym™ Official Store
The "How To" of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation - YouTube

So this video is about tVNS devices (“Parasym”) which are low level low range TENS units attached to the ear with a clip. If t = T, both ‘transcutaneous’. At 3’17’’ it says the specific tVNS units cost £600 (the video was uploaded July 2022), whilst an expensive TENS unit which might be able to be adjusted to this low range costs £80 and the clip for it £40. On the site of the UK TENS company she recommends I can find neither a tVNS unit nor a TENS unit with a suitable program, altho the video was uploaded 3 weeks ago. To me it sounds like hard to get. Or maybe you need to phone them for advice. Or forking out the £600 for the “Parasym” trademarked version…

On Optimizehealth365 they start talking about tVNS, then recommend a certain TENS unit, and then say as it’s hard to get a tVNS unit you have to do a bit of DIY work on it, which doesn’t sound at all easy…

If it is hard to get and there is hardly any medical evidence then it is last in line for anyone who wants success with their symptoms.

Also I’m specifically wondering what the difference is between a microcurrent unit and a tVNS unit, since both are low level and low range. Looking for a microcurrent unit seems more promising than a tVNS unit.

In the video and in 1-2 studies it says tVNS may be helpful for epilepsy. However above TENS site warns people with epilepsy. From own experience I’m very wary.

Bottom line for me from all this is, incl. that video: tVNS may be of interest to someone who has tried >100 treatment types (like myself), but completely off the grid for someone just starting. If it initiates great hope, then very likely even greater disappointment.

Not any old TENS unit is enough as the ranges and levels are usually too high.

Non-Invasive Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia Symptoms: A Study Protocol

Considering that the vagus nerve controls pain signals towards the central nervous system, and growing evidence of autonomic dysfunction in fibromyalgia in terms of sympathetic hyperactivity, it can be argued that rebalancing the sympathetic–parasympathetic activity via vagal stimulation might reduce the intensity of pain and stabilize the autonomic symptoms of this disease. In addition, an immune system alteration seems to mediate the interaction between the autonomic nervous system and the chronic inflammatory state in fibromyalgia, apparently by the influence of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. This well-described inflammatory state in fibromyalgia patients is critically important for treatment approaches

Since fibromyalgia involves a dysregulation of the autonomic (high sympathetic tone) and immune (enhanced pro-inflammatory activity) systems, non-invasive tVNS is expected to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including chronic, musculoskeletal, and generalized pain, through modulation of the vegetative and immune systems

There seems to be a little evidence that stimulating the vagus nerve might improve our symptoms:

The effects of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation on in patients with fibromyalgia https://ard.bmj.com/content/80/Suppl_1/1057.3
https://www.healthrising.org/blog/2015/05/13/reborn-reversing-fibromyalgia-with-vagus-nerve-stimulation/

Vagal nerve videos, all helpful:
General: Vagus Nerve Massage For Stress And Anxiety Relief - YouTube
General, but by someone with ME/CFS: 6 Easy Vagus Nerve Reset Stimulation Exercises for Recovery / CFS, Fibromyalgia, Long Covid, Pain - YouTube
TENS with clip (emulating a tVNS gadget) for fibro How does the Vagus nerve effect my Fibromyalgia Symptoms - YouTube

Just had a look at the comments under Cort Johnson’s healthline article above, lots of exercises and again the idea of using a TENS, esp. if people can’t afford the tVNS unit.

EMS = electrical muscle stimulation is missing here too, see
https://www.livingwithfibro.org/t/foot-massage-ems-mat-increased-pain/13978/14
Bottom line: I think EMS is too intense for us. (It’s in with some TENS units too - has someone tried it?)