The Effect of TENS 7000 on Pain Relief Systems
The electrical stimulation provided by the TENS 7000 is meant to arouse sensory nerves and trigger one of two main natural pain relief mechanisms. Those two systems are the pain gate mechanism, and the endogenous opioid system. When human beings are in pain, sensory receptors send a signal to the spinal cord and the brainstem through the nerve fibers. These signals can be intercepted, transformed and modified before they reach their destination. The TENS 7000’s electrical impulses alter the way that nerves perceive pain, so they have no choice but to stop the emission of pain signals to the brain.
The pain gate mechanism may be activated by stimulating the A beta sensory fibers. The result is a decrease of noxious stimulus transmission via the spinal cord and to the higher centers. The A beta fibers seem to be more responsive to a somewhat high rate between 80 and 130 Hz. Although that range works in a broad spectrum of patients, it shouldn’t be taken for granted either. All patients should be encouraged to find a particular frequency for their particular cases, as there will most likely be variations from one patient to another, even if they are very slight.
On the other hand, the endogenous opioid system is triggered by stimulating the A delta fibers at a rate of 2 to 5-10 Hz. This lower frequency will cause the release of a natural opioid called encephalin, which diminishes noxious sensory pathways activity in the spinal cord. Like the pain gate mechanism, there is no unique frequency that is written in stone and that will work in each and every patient. There may be a bit of trial and error involved before results are noticeable.
The fact that the pain gate mechanism is being activated doesn’t preclude stimulation of the endogenous opioid system, and vice versa. In fact, they can both be triggered simultaneously thanks to the TENS 7000 unit’s burst mode (one of its 5 different modes). This is accomplished by interrupting a high frequency output (approximately 100 Hz) with 2 or 3 bursts every second. The 100 Hz impulses activate the A beta fibers (pain gate mechanism) while the bursts stir the A delta fibers (endogenous opioid system). This combination of pain relief mechanisms is what’s most effective for some patients, but once again (and for the last time), each patient needs to find out on their own what works for them.