“ Brand: Lloydspharmacy / Type: TENS Machine for pain relief „
A while ago I started to consider a TENS machine as a way to help some of my painful areas. I have Hypermobility Syndrome and Fibromyalgia so unfortunately have pain everywhere but my low back area is the worst so my plan was to buy a TENS machine and use it there. I'd heard Lloyd's Pharmacy had one for a reasonable price and they did, they had this dual channel one for £14.99 with free postage and packaging. I bought one before I could change my mind and it arrived within a few days.
TENS means Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which translates to electrical stimulation delivered through the skin. TENS machines work by blocking some of the pain signals that are sent via the spinal cord to the brain so the brain perceives less pain. They are recommended by doctors and physiotherapists and work well for some people but not so well for others. It doesn't matter if the pain is somewhere else on the body, the pain signals are still sent through the nerves of the spinal cord but that doesn't mean you have to place the pads on your back, you place one each side of the painful area you are treating.
This particular TENS machine has 4 pads, they are attached to 2 wires so each pair of pads are controlled by one side of the machine. There are 8 mode settings and the screen is a large easy to read LCD screen. The actual machine is about 5 inches by 3 inches at the widest part so it isn't particularly small, it has a clip you can use to attach it to your clothes so you can walk about whilst wearing it. The wires are a good metre long each so it shouldn't be a problem getting them to reach areas of the body but if you wanted to do your upper back at the same time as say your lower legs you might struggle.
Some warnings before you buy one of these: people with pacemakers, pulse regulators or any other implanted medical device cannot use TENS machines, people with heart rhythm problems cannot use TENS, people with cancer, diabetes or epilepsy should consult their GP first, the use of the machine must be supervised by an adult of sound mind (their words not mine!), people with inflammation, acute diseases or infectious skin wounds should avoid these and oddly it says it isn't suitable during pregnancy or labour which surprised me as they used to bang on about how helpful TENS machines were for labour pains. Children under 16 cannot use this machine and you should consult your doctor if you have any acute diseases, heart diseases, a fever, abnormal blood pressure, skin conditions or any areas of the body with a loss of feeling. It really makes the machine sound lethal doesn't it?
Some other advice is not to use the pads on wet skin or anywhere you have applied ointments or creams etc, do not place the pads on the head, face, neck, throat, heart, chest, eyes, oral cavity or sexual organs. Do not use on scarred areas following surgery for at least 10 months, do not use on stomach muscles within 90 minutes of eating and people with chronic alcoholism should not use the machine.
The unit must be turned off while you position pads and if you move them it has to be off for this too. It should be kept away from humid areas like bathrooms, shouldn't be used while driving or operating machinery, shouldn't be used while sleeping, the gel pads should be kept away from metal and the cables should not be inserted into anything else except the TENS machine. If you attempt to repair it yourself it invalidates the warranty. The warranty is for one year by the way.
So after all those dire warnings I decided I wasn't in a high risk group and had no intentions of placing the pads in my oral cavity or anywhere else equally bizarre so I got to looking at the modes available. The 8 modes are as follows: tapping slow, tapping fast, vibrating slow, vibrating medium, vibrating fast, kneading slow, kneading fast 1, kneading fast 2. Each program has a different symbol and the number of bars near it indicate how fast it is. I can't remember the symbols even a month later so just remembered which ones I liked.
The machine also has an intensity setting which goes from 1 to 8 and this makes the electrical impulses stronger. The machine takes 4 triple A batteries which are not included but do last a long time.
So onto using the machine. Each set of pads is controlled by one side of the machine, these are side A and side B. The pads are really sticky and come with a plastic backing to put back on them after use to keep them sticky. If they lose their stickiness a wipe with a damp cloth (remember to have the machine off while doing this) will improve this but if not replacement pads can be bought.
Peeling the backing off the pads is easy but each pad has repeated warnings not to pull the wire as it may come out of the pad so you have to hold the corner of the pads away from the wire. The pads feel awful actually, really jelly like and sticky but they do stay put once you apply them to the skin. Putting them on is a bit of a phaff because you can't put them directly on the spine so you have to feel where to put them if you use them on your back and work out where the wires will be so they don't get tangled but once on you set the machine.
This machine has a set time of 15 minutes and you can't alter that, you can repeat programs over and over if you want to but after 15 minutes it will stop. 15 minutes a day is fine for mild pain but not enough for me and I used mine for an hour each day. To set one side you choose either A or B buttons and then press the "mode" button where you choose the program by using the arrow keys to flick through them. Once that's done you press the "Int" button which is intensity and use the arrow keys to increase or decrease it. Once you press the intensity button the machine starts on that side so then you have to repeat all that for the other set of pads. That means initially while you get used to it one side will start and finish quite a long time before the other side but once you get used to it you can have them working with only seconds apart. I didn't really like the space between the two sets of pads until I got used to setting it and could then start them within seconds of each other.
That's it, machine set for the next 15 minutes so all you have to do is let it work. Due to the amount of pain I've been in for many years my nervous system is very sensitive and even light touch is painful for me so I have to stick to a low intensity or it's agony. Everyone will differ with what intensity they can use however. Some of the programs are fine for me but the tapping one is very painful and I avoid that one.
The sensation for me is like being stabbed with needles, especially on the first 15 minutes but as I reset it over and over it drops down to just a stinging sensation. I didn't expect that, I actually didn't really expect to feel much at all through the pads. I also find the gel pads make me itch after a short period of time so I think my skin is reacting to them a bit too.
I lay down while I use the TENS machine but you can attach it to your clothes and walk around. Don't think you can wear this discreetly though because there's wires everywhere so it isn't the best choice for one to go to work in. I found for the first couple of times I used it it did seem to decrease some of the pain I felt afterwards but not for very long. Unfortunately after that initial success it seemed to stop working and made no difference to my pain whatsoever so I was using it for an hour each day with no gains. I eventually gave up because the stinging and itching weren't pleasant and I got nothing from the machine so it's been packed in its box for weeks now and I never even think about using it.
For me it was a waste of time and money and didn't help me so it's back to the painkillers for me but I do know some people get pain relief from TENS machines. Whether it's the particular machine I bought (I doubt it) or just my messed up nervous system I don't know but for me it was a pointless exercise. For mild pain it may well help so it's still a low enough price to buy if you only have mild pain and want to avoid painkillers.
A low 2 stars from me, the price is good and it may work for some people but it doesn't for me. The pads make me itch and the programs range from stinging to excruciating so it wasn't a good buy for me. However if you know a TENS machine will work for you this one is very cheap and easy to use.
As some as you may know, last year I had a prolapsed lumbar disc and I spent six months in agony, having pain in my lower back and all the way down my left leg and into my foot. I was taking a lot of analgesics, including morphine, tramadol, and voltarol - the side effects of which made me feel nauseous and therefore from time to time I liked to try to have a break from the pills.
I saw the Lloyds Pharmacy Dual Channel TENS Machine, unsurprisingly in Lloyds Chemist. It was on offer and it cost me £12.99 which seemed reasonable. I had never used a TENS machine before and so I have nothing to compare it to as I was a TENS virgin!
Before I used it, I looked up the science behind the theory of the TENS machine. Basically, the device delivers a electronic impulse through gel pads attached to the body. Delivering the electronic impulses disturbs the pain signals that are sent to the brain, thereby giving the effect of stopping the pain signals reaching the pain - and therefore the patient does not experience as much pain. Or something like that!!
The device is about 12cms x 8cms and its small enough to fit in an average size pocket. It comes with two leads with plug into the TENS machine which then branch into two further leads which you attach to the gel pads. The pack had 8 gel pads in it, which were about 5cms x 5cms.
I could adjust the TENS machine in two ways. I could adjust the mode of the impulses that were delivered which mainly differed by changing the pattern or frequency of the electrical impulses. There were 3 different modes. I could also alter the intensity that the electrical impulses were delivered. I could adjust the intensity and mode of each lead that plugged into the TENS machine individually.
The device does come complete with instructions, although I was a little disappointed at the detail that the instruction booklet gave. I know that a lot of people buy TENS machines for back pain and so I thought the booklet would give you some suggestions on where to apply the pads - and so it was a little bit of guess work for me.
I attached the gel pads to the area that hurt the most (above and below the source) and then I turned the intensity up to the highest I could cope with (which was about 6). I randomly altered the type of mode because I couldn't determine if any mode worked better than any of the others. What was really annoying was that each cycle only lasted 15 minutes and so after this the TENS machine would turn off - which meant I then had to fiddle around resetting it - which is not relaxing!
When the pads were applied, I would say that the machine moderately reduced the pain. If the pain without the TENS machine was 10/10 I would say the pain while the TENS machine was in use was 7/10. I was a little disappointed with how effective it was - but like I said, it did have some effect as long as the machine was running. However, as soon as the device was turned off, there was no lasting effect and the pain returned to 10/10 after about 10 minutes. This seemed to happen regardless of how long the TENS machine was applied for.
The gel pads did loose their stickiness after about 10 uses, although I did find that I could get some of this stickiness back by rehydrating the gel pads by dripping water on them. The replacement pads cost £4.99 for 8 new pads (again they were on offer) and I probably did replace them every 2 weeks because after this they were unsticky, very grubby and starting to loose their structure.
All in all, I would probably not recommend this particular model because, for me at least, it didn't seem to reduce the pain as much as I thought it would. I have heard that there are better models on the market and if I need another TENS machine in the future, I think I will opt for one of the more expensive models.
Lloyds pharmacy has always been a great place to shop for medical products. They give lots of help and advice and all for free. They sell a wide range of products and so when we wanted a tens machine it was the obvious place to go.
Tens machines are great. They are a drug free form of pain relief and can be used on almost all parts of the body. Tens works by sending small electronic waves throughout the body from the gel pads that are attached by the user to the area where they are most in pain. The electronic signals work by confusing pain signals sent to the brain, thus blocking some or all of the pain. Some tens machines also have a massage function which means they can actually massage painful or swollen muscles.
The first tens machine I brought was from Boots by a company called tenscare. I was suffering from very bad back pain at the time and could hardly walk some days. I brought the tens machine and tried it out straight away. It was amazing. Within about 30 minutes my pain had eased significantly and I was able to move around easier. After wearing it for a couple hours I was feeling much better, so continued to use it almost everyday to help with my back pain.
After about a 1.5 years of use my poor little tens machine died on me and I was lost without it. At the time Lloyds pharmacy had a promotion on for half priced tens machines and they had a similar one on sale for £15. This was less than half of what I had paid for my first one so I thought I'd give it a try as I needed a new one anyway.
I really wish I hadn't bothered. It is dreadful. It is advertised as having lot's of different mode settings and intensities. It doesn't, It has 8 modes and 8 intensity levels. My old one had 15 intensity settings and about 10 different modes. Although this one has 8 modes it is really only 3 different modes at different speeds. It wouldn't be fair to compare the 2 machines if they were differently priced but at full price they are almost the same, yet my other tens was much better and had more functions.
This tens machine is a very basic model. Whichever mode I tried, it switched itself off after 15 minutes which is a problem if you are in a lot of pain. Also there is no lock so if you catch the unit on something you can alter the mode and have to go all the way the other modes to find it again. The screen display is dreadful, you can hardly see the screen properly and my mum who wears glasses has to count, rather than watch the modes as she just can't see it.
When the machine is on it does help with the pain and helps me to be more active in my life. The trouble is the pads are not very sticky and come off all the time. This was not a problem with my other tens unit pads and they were very sticky and easily lasted for over 3 months, even with daily use. These did not stick to my skin from the very first time I put them on. When I brought the unit the sales assistant told me they should last for around 100 uses. At the time they had replacement pads at half price, so I brought a pack for the future. I have even tried using a new set in case the first ones were just faulty but the new set are just as bad.
I really would not recommend this to anyone unless you are literally sitting down all day, doing nothing and can re-programme it every 15 minutes and put the pads back on every time they slip or move on the skin.
Please, please if you have tried this tens machine as your first one, do not base your opinion on this product. It is very basic and in my view poor quality. If you suffer from pain, you will know that when you are in constant pain the last thing you need is something should help, not working in the way it should. If this was my first tens machine I would have been put off. There are very good units out there and they are not that much more expensive. But believe me when I say they are defiantly worth the extra money.
As I suffer with Hypermobility Syndrome I live in constant pain. Some days it can be a dull ache in my lower spine but on other days I can be in so much pain in all my joints that it can make me sick. As I am trying not to rely on Pain Killer as to be fair I am only 27 and if I have to rely on strong drugs now there is no hope for me when I get older and the arthritis starts to kick in as well so I do try to use as many alternative pain relief methods as I can. Some work fantastically but others are not so good. Investing in a new Tens Machine was the best decision I have made for ages.
Firstly let me explain a bit about Hypermobility Syndrome as I know a lot of you are probably wondering what it is, I sure knew that I hadn't heard of it before I was diagnosed. Hypermobility Syndrome is where my connective tissue proteins such as collagen are differently formed to most. My joints, muscles, tendons and even ligaments are laxer and more delicate than most people's which result in vulnerability to them leading to pain and easier injury. Unfortunately the Collagen in my skin also produces too quickly causing me to scar severely, bruise easier and get abscesses constantly.
HMS was a condition I was born with and unfortunately will have for the rest of my life. I can bend my knee's backwards more than 40 degrees more than I am supposed to, have severe lower back pain, shoulder pain and even the simple task of sneezing or yawning can have the worst consequences on my neck and shoulders. As you can imagine as well the minus 20 nights with the weather do not help, the cold makes me extremely worse and I am hating this snow for what affect it is having on my hands and fingers. One of the alternative methods in pain relief that I am using constantly at the moment is my Lloyds Pharmacy Dual Tens Machine.
What is a Tens Machine?
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or Tens for short is to enable an application of electrical current through the skin to relieve pain. The item is connected to the skin using two or more electrodes which when placed in the affected area produce a non-invasive, safe nerve stimulation to relieve the most acute or chronic pain.
What can Tens be used for?
Many studies how shown the level of relief for problems such as osteoarthritis, chronic musculoskeletal pain, Joint pain such as Hypermobility Syndrome, Knee pain, Shoulder pain and even as a pain relief in Labour.
What does the Lloyds Pharmacy Tens Machine look like?
It is a battery operated hand held unit that is about palm height and width. It has rubber sides on to enable easier holding for people that suffer with their hands. And due to its size it is easier to carry around, I just pop mine into my pocket or clip it onto the waist band of my trousers. On the front then is the Digital screen with the timer for how long the machine has been in use for, what mode and intensity you have got it on. Just below the screen then is the buttons used to control the functions. At the top of the machine is where the electrodes plug in and the back is where the batteries are.
Mode - you can have 9 different modes to the machine which each have various pulses. They have various uses and give different sensations. I always use it on the fifth mode which feels like tiny pin pricks to relax my muscles.
Intensity - There are 8 different intensity modes with number 1 being the weakest and 8 being the strongest. I never get over 6 as it seems to make my body twitch of it's own accord if I go over. However funny it is at the time it does hurt and would look quite strange if I was to walk down the street randomly twitching.
Price and Availability -
I paid £19.99 for the Tens when it was on a half price off in Lloyds Pharmacy. It generally retails at £39.99.
How effective for pain relief is the machine and my verdict -
As a sufferer of chronic pain I would give the Tens 4 out of 5. It relaxes my muscles when I need it to and relieves the pain from Chronic to a dull ache. I wear the machine for longer than the 15 minute timer in one go, usually for about 45 minutes and I can honestly say it does exactly what it says it does.
The wires with the machine are so easily hidden and as you put it in your pocket I also wear the machine when I am out and about. Especially when I am doing my shopping. As the pads are hidden under your clothes only you will know it is there. I however have put the intensity on too high whilst in Morrison's and had quite a few odd looks whilst squiggling in the aisle. I even use it to do my everyday house work which would be a mission and cause lots of pain if I didn't have the tiny electrodes coursing through my back.
I would talk to your Physio or Doctor before using the machine just to ensure it is useful to yourself, but as you can buy it over the counter it is such a useful natural method without the use of painkillers.
I would definitely recommend them to all sufferers of back pain and really couldn't function in everyday life without this little machine sent from heaven.