The feet have a very complex structure of bones, muscles, tendons, and tissues. For various reasons, these can be hurt or irritated and result in mild to severe pain. Pain in the feet can be very inconvenient and debilitating.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy is highly effective in managing foot pain. The TENS unit can put you back to work in a very short time, and it has several other advantages too. This article shall explain how to use the TENS unit for foot pain.
Why use a TENS unit for foot pain?
TENS unit is an excellent pain management system, based on simple technology of stimulating the peripheral nerves in the affected region. The electrical stimulation of the nerves based on the Gate Control Theory and Endorphine release theory is accepted by the USFDA as a pain management therapy and very popular in Europe and the USA.
The advantages of using TENS unit;
1. It is non-invasive.
The body is not cut or punctured in this therapy, and this prevents any secondary infection.
2. It is non-Pharmacological.
The dangers of reaction, overuse, side effects, is at bay.
3. No side effects.
On its own, the TENS therapy has no side effects. But some indications may occur in sensitive skin or because of improper use.
4. It can be self-administered.
You can, on your own, operate the TENS unit, and there is no need for any assistance.
The unit is convenient and portable and can be carried along. Hence emergencies can be easily handled.
6. It reduces inflammation.
The use of the TENS unit has found to reduce inflammation, and this, in turn, aids healing.
Use it for several painful conditions, like knee pain, back pain, sciatica, labor pain, postoperative pain.
8. It is a complementary therapy.
You can use TENS therapy in conjunction with medication or any other treatment.
9. It is equally suitable and effective for chronic as well as acute pain
It is a very reasonably priced unit, and there is no recurring cost involved. Apart from the occasional change of the electrode pad, there is no operating cost involved.
Common foot pain points
Several bones, ligaments, muscles, tissues, and tendons come together to form the foot. Inflammation, infection, injury or strain may be the underlying cause of pain in any of these structural elements of the foot. The pain can be felt in different parts like;
1. Heel pain could be due to;
a. Plantar fasciitis- irritation of the strand of a band of tissue connecting the toes to the heels.
b. Sometimes there is extra growth of bone on the underside of the heel. It is known as heel spurs.
c. Fracture in the heel bone.
2. Painful ball of the foot
a. Metatarsalgia-pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.
b. Morton’s Neuroma- There is a thickening of tissues around the base of toes.
c. Tendinitis- Inflammation of tendons, commonly found in athletes and runners.
3. Arch pain
This pain is because of plantar fasciitis affecting the arch muscles.
4. Pain in the toes
Gout (arthritis), bunion (the bony bulge at the edge), or claw toe is the painful conditions of the toes.
5. Pain on the outside of the foot
It could be the result of the bone fracture on the outside of the leg.
6. General pain over the foot.
a. It could be due to neuropathy, damage to the nerves. Diabetes is most often the reason for the nerve damage.
b. Tendons join the muscles to the bone, and they run all over the foot. Irritation or inflammation of the tendon, known as Tendinitis, could also be the reason for pain all over the foo.
Pressure Points Foot Pain
Designated points on foot, when pressed, in acupressure therapy, do provide relief.
The figure below indicates the pressure points.
Placing the electrode pads at these points during the TENS therapy enhances the performance.
TENS unit for feet neuropathy
Diabetes for a long time can get complicated into neuropathy, which causes numbness, hyperalgesia, and chronic pain in the feet.
TENS therapy is quite effective in neuropathic pain management. It can be home administered the peripheral nerve stimulation reduces pain and can be adopted as a long term solution for the foot pain.
The TENS unit is a small device the size of the cellular phone. It is battery charged, and through the sticky electrode pads, controlled electrical signals are sent to the peripheral nerves of the painful area.
You can control and set the amplitude, frequency of the electrical impulse to provide optimum benefits.
The right placement of the electrode pad and the machine setting influences the efficiency of the TENS unit.
Simple steps to use TENS for Neuropathy
- Clean your skin thoroughly free of any oil or dirt.
- Dry it well
- Apply the sticky electrode pad around the painful areas.
- At least a one-inch gap should be there between the electrode pads.
- Secure the pads with medical tapes.
- Set the unit in the lowest setting.
- You should feel a slight tingling of the muscles at the painful part.
- If needed, increase the setting up to a point you don’t get uncomfortable.
- The duration of the therapy can be around 30 minutes per session, and you can have 3 -4 sessions in a day, depending on the severity of the pain.
After the session, put off the unit. Remove the electrode pad, wipe, and store in a dry place.
Always refer to the User Manual for model-specific settings and instructions.
TENS unit for plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia connects the toes to the heel. It is a firm tissue. Inflammation and irritation of this muscle are known as plantar fasciitis. Since the tissue runs throughout the bottom of the foot, there can be pain anywhere. Such kind of pain is known as anywhere all over the pain of the foot.
Use TENS therapy for quick relief in Plantar fasciitis. It is known and proved to be a great pain reliever.
TENS Pads placement for plantar fasciitis: Place one electrode pad about an inch away from the painful spot, under the foot, and place the other electrode pad on the top of the foot.
Start with a low setting to get a tingling sensation in the affected area and gradually increase the setting until you are comfortable.
The pain and irritation of the plantar facia will ease out in due course of time.
Apart from Plantar fasciitis and neuropathy, the TENS unit can be used to alleviate pain in all types of foot pain.
The procedure to use would be the same, with only alteration in the placement of the electrode pads.
TENS therapy is a very suitable pain management system for foot pain. You do not have to suffer the pain any longer. The TENS unit is available over the counter at any pharmacy, or you can order it online.
Check out the features that suit you and get one unit right away.