Pain Control Mechanism
Pressure exerted on nerve tissue is the major cause of pain. Pain is an exceptionally strong signal that warns us that something is wrong. It may be a signal recorded from our skin touch receptors and from internal receptors located in our muscles, joints and organs. Pain warnings are necessary for our survival, as they activate our body to protect us from danger. However, when pain persists and we know its cause, we are able to apply therapy to the pressure causing the problem, and stimulation to alleviate the pain we are caused to feel from the pressure upon nerves. As many people develop cycles of "pain-spasm-more pain," the breaking of a pain cycle enables the body to recover more rapidly.
The analgesia obtained using T.E.N.S. is like an Electronic Aspirin. This analgesia occurs by activation of pain control mechanisms that cause an endorphin release, an encephalin release and a gating effect, to suppress or shut off pain signals from reaching the brain. This has a hormonal effect of suppressing pain-conducting signals at nerve junctions and to Unlearn the Feeling of Pain.
The Medication Effect An endorphin release has a slow acting effect. T.E.N.S. is applied at a low repetition (pulse) rate of less than ten pulses per second. The introduced electrical stimulation activates neural potentials within C type sensory nerve fibers, which transmit at the slow rate of the Autonomic Nervous System, to activate the body’s main pain defense mechanism. C type stimulation requires a longer application time of twenty five minutes to two hours to reach a maximum level of endorphin release, but because endorphins remain at effective levels in the blood stream for extended periods, a pain relief period of up to thirty six hours may be achieved. Sustained stimulation at low levels of pulse intensity has the strongest effect on managing chronic nagging pain. Experience has shown that for the management of chronic pain, an endorphin release is by far the most effective application of T.E.N.S. Endorphins flow through the circulatory system acting like pain medication, inhibiting pain message transmission at nerve junctions throughout the body.
Endorphins, because of their analgesic medication type action, induces an analgesic effect that relieves other aches and pains, as well as the primary pain for which T.E.N.S. is applied. It is worth noting that Morphine is a clone of endorphin and acts on the same reception center in the CNS. The strong pain management effect of morphine is also available from endorphins, which have a more powerful pain management effect than non-opiate advanced medication. An endorphin release occurs at a slow, deferred function similar in effect to medication in the blood stream, so repeated three times daily doses of T.E.N.S. pain management may be required. The effect of an endorphin release may last much longer in the elderly.
Gating Effect and Encephalin Release
A gating effect obtained using T.E.N.S. is a quick acting effect. It occurs because the introduced stimulation acts as a counter to the stimulus causing the pain, by blocking it from registering. It switches off painful sensations at hypothetical pain control gates in the CNS, thereby achieving a pseudo mechanical effect known as gating or blanketing. The theory of gating is that a pain control gate is closed by the hyper-activation of neural sensory potentials within A type nerve fibers, which overrides the slow velocity pain conducting neural potentials transmitted in the C type fibers. The function of A type sensory nerve fibers is to transmit reflex action potentials, other urgent messages of pain, other strong warning signals and skeletal muscle action messages at high velocities. This high velocity enables the use of high pulse rates of 100 to 400 pps to maximize a strong gating effect. A gating effect is achieved using short periods of strong stimulation. This is the most common form of electrical induced analgesia, but it is not necessarily the best, because it only controls pain for a short period.
An encephalin release also occurs in response to hyper activation of A type sensory nerve fibers. Encephalins act similarly to endorphins by flowing within the blood stream and have a short medication type life cycle of less than two hours. A gating and encephalin release is required for strong acute pain management and in exceptional circumstances the condition may need ongoing pain management.
Endorphin Release, Gating Effect and Encephalin Release
A combined endorphin release, an encephalin release and a gating effect are all achieved at the same time by changing the rate of the stimuli to A, B and C type sensory nerve fibers, with a combined low and a high modulated (changing) rate stimuli. This induces a very effective short and long term pain management, which is a frequently used method of controlling pain.