TENS unit... YAY!

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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 8/11/2010 1:55 PM (GMT -6)   
I hope that today finds everyone in less pain than the day before!
I finally got the doctors coordinated and will be getting my home TENS unit tomorrow!  YAY!  I love it when my PT uses it after my visits (the fact that I'm going to see him over a year after my fusion is a whole other issue...).  I'm really hoping that the device will help me not require quite SO much medication.  The amount of medicine that I've been taking has been steadily increasing since January.  It appears that my upper back/neck don't handle stress so well.  Docs all tell me to quit my job which they don't seem to understand means that I will then have even MORE stress.  The TENS unit in therapy has been much more effective on my upper back than on my lumbar (which is where my fusion is) but it's that same area that has caused me to start taking Lyrica and to step up from Lortab to Percocet.
Anywho, I've done some searches here for peoples experiences but I wanted to get refreshed input.  Has anyone had success with being able to reduce medication using a TENS unit?  Has it been a complete failure?  Is anyone still up in the air regarding the effect it had on them? 
I'm sure that I'll get instructions on how often to use it.  My PT has been letting me play around with one when I go to him so I can already identify how much is too much (I think).  Was there any timing method that worked best for anyone that I may be able to try out?
Also, how obvious is it to the rest of the world when you wear one?  In the office I often wear skirts or suits.  I was thinking of getting a waistband cellphone holder (like all of the guys in the office use for their PDAs) and putting it in there for times when I need to use it in the office.  Most everyone knows about my situation so I'm not concerned about rumors or what not floating around but I really don't want to call attention to it simply because I'm tired of talking about it.  Considering that I had gastric bypass right around the same time that my back issues came to light it seems like conversations always revolve around my weight loss or my pain. 
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  I hope everyone is doing well.

30 years old, severe SI joint pain resulting from L5/S1 Fusion, Scoliosis, Bipolar Disorder, Idiopathic Hypersomnia and resulting Insomnia

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 416
   Posted 8/12/2010 9:20 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm afraid I don't know that much about it. I just wanted to tell you how happy I am for you. I hope it well help you to achieve many pain free days. Take care . Heather
Big Hugs, Mama6

DX. with Fibromyalgia, Narcolepsy, Poss. RA or Psoratic Arthritis, Herniated disc 3x in last 7 months
Meds: Nuvigl, Cymbalta, Tramadol

Mother to 5 wonderfull kids. Oldest is 18 and just left the nest for animation school. Youngest just started 2nd grade. So I am crazy, and feeling my age plus some.

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 8/13/2010 12:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Jill
I use to use a tens unit on my back, I found that it felt good but it really did not relieve my pain, if anything it just added a layer of added sensation. I was taking vicodin and vicoprofen,  and it did not lower the amount. I also found that I had a hard time keeping the electrode pad on,  my skin would sweat under the pads and they would slip off! They tried using tape but I have an allergic reaction to allot of the adhesives, they even tried the hypoallergenic paper tape, and that was the worst it made my skin  blister. Anyway I finally gave up on using it, it was more trouble than it was worth, ( side note mine has the capability of using 4 pads and just a host of different patterns and strengths.) Anyway I have a herniated and torn disk at T-12 and they would not do surgery on it, so they give me pain meds and put me on disability. It has been over Ten years. The Doc finally said that I was having to take to many Vicoprofen to control the pain, and I hated it as it made me loopy, so he put me on Oxycontin, that has really been a Godsend for me, I was taking it every 12 hours, first 10mg but it wasn't enough, so they upped it to 20mg q12 hours and I was on that for quite a few years, then up to 40mg every 12 hours just a year or 2 ago they changed it to 40mg every 8 hours, I have a degenerating condition, so the pain is acually getting worse. For me the great thing about this medication, is all it does is relieve the pain, no feeling of euphoria or any thing like that, and it does not impair my cognitive abilities. But like allot of medications, BP meds, heart med, even my baclofen for the muscle spasms, your body does become physicaly dependent on it. So you just can not stop taking it it without suffering the repercussions!
Anyway I am only explaining my experiences with using the TENS. If it help you and can lower you requirements for pain meds that is fantastic! and I really hope that it does that for you!  After the name of the game is to tame and control this beast called Chronic Pain!
I wish you the best! and Good Luck to YOU!
White Beard
I would like to add to, I am or was an RN and when working around telemetry when ever an alarm went off it would send an extra jolt into the  TENS pads on my back and it was enough to make me jump. Also the old bag phones, if I received a telephone call and the phone was next to me,  the tens  would shock the day lights out of me, talk about an unexpected surprise!  Especially when driving, the small cell phones do not do this.!!  This was back in 1999.
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Post Edited (White Beard) : 8/12/2010 11:53:53 PM (GMT-6)

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