View Full Version : Ideas for using TENS machine
07-23-2006, 06:16 AM
So it was easy for me to get the TENS machine. Now, can anyone help with the best places to put the electrodes for IC?
07-23-2006, 01:00 PM
I put the two electrodes right over the bladder area. Yes, I did have to shave for that. I know I read where some put the electrodes on their back. Didn't they show you any when you got your tens? Sometimes you have to just experiment where the right place is. It's different for everyone. Good luck with it.
07-24-2006, 04:15 AM
thanks waterflow. I ordered my tens from canada, so i received it in the mail and got not much instruction. I will try the bladder. Thanks again.
08-01-2006, 06:56 AM
So it was easy for me to get the TENS machine. Now, can anyone help with the best places to put the electrodes for IC?
My sister is a physical therapist and she showed me where to place them for proper treatment~ the should be placed on the sacral nerves which are located by your tailbone area, and "BOY OH BOY" can you feel it right in the urethra it actually makes my whole urethra twinge but in a good way and makes my bladder feel alot better. Good luck just experiment with what works for you.
08-01-2006, 07:00 AM
Funny --- that is where i have "felt" that they needed to be and have been placing them. It really helos me get through the day.
08-03-2006, 03:08 PM
Some one here showed me to place them like this over the lower back and criss cross the wires, this works well for me.., unless the kidney hurts then I put one up there and two down low.
red X X red
black X X black
08-05-2006, 04:05 PM
My doctor sent me to physical therapy and she told me to cross the wires on my tens. I don't know what I would do with out mine. I put mine where ever I am hurting. I wish you the best
08-06-2006, 06:04 AM
No one at ph told me to cross mine. How many of the electrodes are you using? I used just two. If I put mine on my back it made the pain worse. Felt like the bladder was being hit.
08-06-2006, 04:12 PM
I just started using a TENS unit and I also criss cross mine on my lower back around my tailbone. My chiropractor showed me where to put them and suggested criss crossing them. I find this therapy to be really relaxing.
How often should I use my TENS unit and how long should each treatment be? I have been using it 2 times per day for about 15 minutes or so each time.
Has anyone found that it helps with frequency at all?
p.s. I always use 4 electrodes....two black and two red.
08-08-2006, 07:40 AM
I have been using 4 electrodes. I like criss-crossing on the back. I have been using it for about 90 minutes at a time, sometimes just restarting when it is done. It really helps mostly with the pain from sitting all day. I am a therapist, if I have to sit in PAIN and listen to others it makes for a VERY long day. The TENS seems to be helping!
08-09-2006, 08:51 AM
90 Minutes? That is good to know. I guess you really can't use it "too much" then.
I just got back from seeing my uro today and he said that chiropractic care and using a TENS unit will definitely help my bladder. He said that anything that will help my back will also help my bladder. I was excited to hear this.
08-09-2006, 01:09 PM
I have a cheapie tens machine( or so my occ.therapist told me!) that I needed for wrist pain. It has 4 electrodes,1 red/black set connected to one wire and another red/black connected to a second wire. My instruction was wherever you put 1 electrode, you must put the other( connected to it) on an opposing side or area.
For my hand, that meant 1 set on the back of my hand and wrist, and the other on the same spots on the palm side. Is that what you're referring to? Or are you crossing the two same color wires? Why would that help? I'm confused!
Maybe I have a different machine.( I said it was cheap...my wonderful insurance co.) I've been thinking about trying to use it for retention...is that even a good idea? I haven't been able to go to afford the PT yet, so any info. would be so helpful.
08-09-2006, 04:52 PM
I also have a machine with two channels: each channel has a black and a red wire.
When you hear of crossing them picture the back of someone with two of the electrodes on one side of the spine and the other two across from them on the other side of the spine. Now if they are criss crossed then the black wire will have a red under it and vice versa.
I am not sure why this helps but my chiropractor said to use them this way.
I think that it may help with retention. I don't use mine for pain. I use it to help promote better health with my nervous system and muscles around my lower back (lumbar area). My chiropractor and uro believe that it will help the irritated nerves which will in turn help my irritated bladder.
I wish you luck with your treatments!
Hope that helps :)
08-15-2006, 03:00 AM
Thanks so much everyone! I came on line today to see if anyone was using a tens for their IC.... I just got one and wasn't sure where to place it. Just reading what everyone's said has helped. I have really really bad flank pain, has anyone used it for the kidney area????
08-15-2006, 05:30 AM
Thanks for the info Stephanie.
Was wondering what level your chiros or uros were telling you to go to on the TENS? Since my wrist injury involved nerves, I have only used the levels of 3 or 4...just to when you begin to feel a little buzz. I'm wondering if placement on the sacrel nerve can be stronger? Also, till I can get to a therapist, I've been placing 2 electrodes on either sides of the bum crack, and 2 right below those...and I am criss-crossing as well. Does that seem correct, or is their a better placement? Ultimately, I am trying to loosen things up, as I have alot of retention. As ever, thank you in advance for the help.
PS Does anyone have a source online for extra electrodes ? I need to find smaller size for my wrist.
08-15-2006, 05:45 AM
I suppose you could. I have placed my electrodes higher on my flanks before just be sure you do NOT place them over your spine.
Contact your electrode supplier too. My unit came with the wimpy 2" circular electrodes which I hate! I usually use the 2 x 4 ovals.
08-15-2006, 08:15 AM
Now when my chiro put electrodes on my back one day for pain, he said that when I felt relaxed with the current level of the TENS that I could turn it up and then when that level felt relaxing, then I could turn it up again and so forth.
I asked him how I high I could go with my own TENs at home and he said I couldn't "go too high" or "do any damage". When I use mine, I start out low and increase it as I relax more and more.
My uro did not mention anything about how specifically to use it, but just that it was a good idea. He said that helping the sacral nerves will definitely help the bladder.
I also place 2 of my electrodes where the bum crack starts and then I put the other two right above those.....more behind my pelvis.
As far as buying replacement ones.....I know you can buy them from a lot of different websites....I like Amazon.com.
or since you mentioned a therapist......if you mean a physical therapist...he/she may order them for you at a cheaper rate.
When I need new ones, I plan to have my chiro order them for me....he said he would and I think they may get better deals. Plus, they get their stuff quick...mine said like two days. The therapist may have a greater variety to choose from too.
I just thought of this but maybe look into the butterfly style electrodes or ask about them. They would fold over your wrist. I know they have those on Amazon too.
I hope that helps......and I hope your TENS is helping with the retention and your wrist.
Talk to you soon!
08-15-2006, 08:18 AM
Armslee is so right about NOT placing them over the spine. I was told this too. I was also told not to place them over any area where bone sticks out.
And criss crossing them is what I was told to do too.
08-15-2006, 11:45 AM
What happens when you place them over your spine?! I'm almost afraid to get the answer.
Thanks so much for the info...am in the process of moving, and getting new insurance, so I won't be getting to a pt most likely till end of Oct. So I really appreciate the help. Gracias.
08-15-2006, 01:37 PM
You are more than welcome ddemos! I hope that helps.
I don't know why they say not to place the electrodes over the spine or other bones.
Good luck with the move!
08-15-2006, 02:03 PM
My physical therapist also said not over the spine, I think because it can mess with the spinal messages. becuse I have kidney and bladder pain, i often put two up on the kidney area dn two down low, across my lower spine for the bladder. When I do that I find two things very helpful;
don't put the electrodes right on the kidney but on either side., and also put the lead wires from one side to the kidney and one side to the bladder. This allows me to control the different pain areas independently!
08-18-2006, 06:26 AM
Thanks everyone. Good info.
I know where to place now, but how far away from each other should the set be? Say the set on the pelvis...how many inches (horizontally) between the red and black? Vertically, I've been putting them around 2-3" apart. Is that too close? Trying to get the sacrel and lower back
Also I've been criss-crossing as explained to me red/black black/red. It's quite weird when adjusting the level,one lead doesn't control one set...is that the whole point. Yea for me if I finally get it!! I'm usually not this dense, but I got no instruction at all when I got the machine!
08-18-2006, 12:31 PM
Since they should be on either side of the spine, it probabaly about 5 inches across(horizonally may a little more) and then maybe 2 to 3 inches down (vertically) should be about right! How does it feel when you turn it on, that how I know when it's in the right place!
08-27-2006, 01:51 PM
I am a veteran IC'er and I have never tried a tens unit. I have been wondering if I should try one? Can anyone tell me if this really helps? I need some advice.
08-27-2006, 03:28 PM
I would highly recommend it. Though i require many coping tools to survive daily with this disease, i find my tens a BIG help. I use it mostly when I need to sit for a long time, driving, in church, long waits at the doctor, etc.! I also use it when I need to drive and can't take pain meds. or sometimes when I am in a BAD flare that nothing seems to help! Though I think it mostly is a wonderful distraction, like a constant gentle back massage, it does also seem to relax the tense muscles! They are not that expensive either!
08-29-2006, 05:13 PM
Just picked this up from a site -- still looking for a picture of the proper placement to put up.
What is it? Transcutaneous (trans-q-tain-e-us) electrical nerve stimulation (stih-mew-la-shun) is a pain control treatment. It is often called TENS for short. A TENS unit is a portable, pocket-sized, battery-powered device. The TENS unit uses mild, safe electrical signals to help control pain.
When is TENS used to control pain? A TENS unit treats many kinds of pain. It can help lessen acute (short-term) pain, like after surgery or an accident. Chronic (long-term) pain, like arthritis, back or muscle pain, or cancer pain may also be lessened with TENS. Some people have trouble taking pain medicine. TENS is a safe, drug-free way to help control pain for these people as well.
How does TENS work?
* TENS lessens pain by sending painless electrical impulses through electrodes (sticky patches) placed on the skin. The electrical signals travel from the TENS unit through wires to the electrodes.
o The signal then passes to the nerves under the skin. These nerves take messages to the brain about what they feel, such as touch, warmth, pressure, and pain. TENS signals can replace the message of pain on these nerves with a tingling sensation. This changes your impression of the pain.
o The TENS signals may also increase the amount of endorphins (end-or-fins) in your body. Endorphins are a pain-relieving chemical made naturally by your body.
* The electrodes are put in different places on your skin.
o Where the electrodes are placed depends on the type and location of your pain. The electrodes may be placed to "cover" or "surround" the painful area. This works very well with muscle pain, spasms, or painful joints as in arthritis. Or, the electrodes may be placed to "capture" the pain as with the pain of a surgery incision (cut). The electrodes may be put between an injured nerve and the brain when a nerve has been hurt.
o Putting the electrodes in the correct place is very important. If the electrodes are put in the wrong place your pain may not be lessened. The pain could even get worse if the electrodes are placed incorrectly. The electrodes should never be put near the eyes. The electrodes should also not be put over the nerves from the neck to the throat or brain.
Visit this site for some placement suggestions and more reading -- click on the link to accupuncture points in the paragraph above the graphic showing placement for even more pictures.
Hope this helps. I have two units -- got one at a garage sale for 50 cents because they didn't know what it was or what it was for - -when I told her, she said -- If you can use it you can have it for 50 cents!! what a deal!
I forget to use these -- after reading this post, I will pull them out tomorrow -- one of mine uses the reusable pads -- the other has the sticky disposables -- I guess getting pads is the reason I haven't used it lately. However, when I do use it, I often run it for hours at a time -- turning it off for short breaks if it bothers me. I use it mainly for shoulder muscular spasms and on my back. I have also been told not to place them on the spine -- I will have to ask my pt for the reasons again, but I think it is to do with interferance of the brain messages from the spine...
If I find anything out I will post it here tomorrow.
08-29-2006, 11:57 PM
Thank you so much. I go back to see my urologist soon (in September) and I am hoping to talk to her about a tens. I have a severely damaged bladder and I know that I need to start really getting serious about pain management. I work full time and colapse when I get home!! I appreciate the support on here. Thank you for sharing the information. I am sooo tired of living like this...but it helps me to know that there are others who are there to share what they have learned with me. Thank you again.
08-29-2006, 11:58 PM
What exactly is juice plus?
It sounds interesting!
09-27-2006, 01:26 AM
I just got my TENS unit. My PT told me I'm not allowed to put it over my pelvic area because it shouldn't be used over any major organ. Do all of you using the TENS follow that rule?
09-27-2006, 08:52 AM
I have never heard this before. My PT put them right over my bladder-one set on top of the other. I found that putting two on my lower back/tail bone area and two over my bladder works best. When I say best I mean it helps keep the potty breaks down. I have'nt found it works so great for pain. It helps a little. I'd like to know where your PT showed you to put them??? I'm really trying to go for pain relief and if you've got a better spot I'd love to hear about it.
09-27-2006, 01:31 PM
Angie...that's exactly the problem. I have nowhere to put them if I can't put them where I hurt the most. I was so surprised because everyone here said they use TENS. That's why I got it. I was thinking, well, where does everyone else have pain with IC, if everyone is using this thing. I have back and inner leg pains too, but nothing like the pelvic pain.
09-27-2006, 02:22 PM
If you look back in the posts you will see many of us put the on the lower back: x x
x x crossing the wires, just keep the same color on the two top ones a the two bottom. This was also told to me by my PT and truly helps my bladder pain!
Good luck with yours,
10-01-2006, 02:43 PM
I place two electrodes on my lower back, one red, one black coming from the same main wire and I put the other two on my bladder. I talked to my family doctor about this, who is also a DO and uses TENS units in his practice and he said that was fine. It helps some with the pain and retention. On my bladder I put the pads about two to three inches apart and on my lower back - kinda in the small of the back I guess you call it about five inches apart. It seems to help. You can also set some of the TENS units where you have continuous surge or back and forth between the two connections, etc. You will just have to try it and see which one you like the best. I personally like the continuous the best and just start out with whatever current you feel is comfortable. I also have found that some cloth tape helps to keep the sticky pads in place better and you get a better connection, especially in the summer when it is hot and humid. Just remember to turn the buggers off before you decide you are going to move/remove them, etc.....I did that ONE time! Yeah - I know - you are all thinkin' "Man is she stupid!" YEP!
10-15-2006, 01:07 PM
Just a note for Jimmiesgirl . There are other instillations. One that uses heparin and lidocaine. My 5 year old (the one who has got the IC) got that instillation. I have heard from many professionals that DMSO is something from the Spanish Inquistion. Maybe you should try the other instillation.:)
10-18-2006, 04:27 PM
I started pelvic floor physical therapy a couple of weeks ago and my physical therapistis SO awesome. She ordered me a TENS unit to keep at home. while i am having therapy, she placed the electrodes on my ankle, directly above the bone. She alternates legs at each appointment. there is an accupressure point in the ankel that leads straight to the bladder. I was having the worst flare I have ever had last week (started thursday). I immediately noticed a huge difference during therapy Friday and by the time i woke up Saturday, it had passed. i swear it was the area she placed the TENS unit (in combination with her awesome skill). Anyway she puts one electrode on the inside of the ankle right above the bone and the other on the back of the ankle about 2 or 3 inches above the top of my heel. It's noticeable instantly. It totally stopped the bladder-full-of-acid feeling I was having.
good luck to all of you.
p.s. she also uses a second unit on my lower back area.:angel:
11-06-2006, 01:32 PM
ok, so the way to gauge where the electrodes go for the bladder is to place the first one about 3 fingers width above the bony protrusion on your ankle (i guess it's about 2-2 1/2 inches above the bone) and the other on the calf muscle on the back of the same leg. Alternate legs each time. :)
I'm not even kidding-it helps me tremendously!
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