Tag Archives: lower back pain


TENS Unit for Pain Relief

TENS units have been used for decades for the relief of pain. Many people use then for both acute (sudden) pains due to exercise as well as post-operative pain, or for chronic pains due to carpal tunnel, arthritis, tendonitis, sciatica, lower back pain and other pains.

TENS stands for Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. This simply means that an electrical signal is applied to the skin which stimulates nerves near the surface of the skin.

Pain Management


TENS 7000 Unit

In general, you apply the conducting pads to the skin along the area of the pain. The electrical stimulation inhibits the transmission of pain signals to the brain, preventing you from feeling pain.

When you use a TENS unit you typically have control over a number of stimulation parameters. These typically include the pulse intensity, pulse frequency, pulse duration, and pulse shape. After you apply the conducting pads to your skin you can work the controls until the pain is reduced or eliminated.

The Cochrane Collaboration published a review of TENS unit effectiveness in 2010 entitled Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic pain (Review). It indicates

“TENS is generally believed to be a safe non-invasive intervention which may produce significant analgesia in many patients with moderate predictable pain associated with a range of conditions . It is used in a variety of clinical settings to treat diverse acute and chronic pain conditions, and although clinical studies of its long-term efficacy have yielded variable results, it has become popular with both patients and health professionals of different disciplines, including physiotherapists, midwives, nurses and doctors.”

A March 1997 article in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Control of Postoperative Pain by Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation After Thoracic Operations, found that “TENS is useful after thoracic surgical procedures only when postoperative pain is mild to moderate; it is uneffective for severe pain.”

How Does a TENS Unit Work?

Take a look at the “Pain & Injury Doctor” providing an overview of how to use a TENS device:

In this video, I demonstrate how to operate a typical TENS unit, and strategies for placing the electrodes to achieve maximum benefit.

A TENS unit (Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) is a small device about the size of a deck of cards that can be used for managing sub acute or chronic pain. It works by “interfering” with pain signals to the brain, by flooding the pain-generating tissues with small, electrical currents that are thought to “compete” with the pain signals traveling to the brain, resulting in reduced perception of pain. It does not do anything to cure the inured site.

TENS units can be helpful by precluding the need for drugs that might be harmful to the user. It is also faster acting than ice and topical pain products.

Now, take a look at the TENS device in actual use for back pain relief:

Scientific Studies

About half the studies of TENS units for pain control have found they did not product statistically significant pain relief. One reason for this is that all the patients using the TENS device were given the same stimulation, which often was ineffective. It could not be varied until it was effective.

The best scientific studies are “double blind” studies in which neither the doctor/therapist nor the patient know the treatment the patient is receiving.

For example, the journal Pain reports on the study Efficacy of Electroacupuncture and TENS in the Rehabilitation of Chronic Low Back Pain Patients. In this study two TENS unit treatment types were used: one with a functioning battery and one with a dead battery. In both cases the intensity of the stimulation could not be felt by the patient.

When the assigned treatment was either TENS or TENS dead battery, the patients had the electrodes attached and were stimulated with a live battery. For both treatments, the intensity of stimulation was then reduced to the point that the patient could not feel the stimulation. At that point, the assigned battery (active or dead) was placed in the unit, and the unit was placed in a plastic case.

In other words, both TENS unit treatment protocols in this study used an intensity that could not be felt by the patients. So, in this study, it is not surprising that no significant difference was seen between the live battery and dead battery levels of pain relief.

Most studies are similar in that the treating levels cannot be adjusted by the patient until they produce results. This is probably why half the scientific studies are inconclusive.


TENS units are used by both professionals and by the general public to reduce the discomfort of both acute and chronic pain. They can be used in place of drugs that typically have potentially dangerous side effects.

We recommend the Tens 7000 2nd Edition with Accessories as seen in the videos on this page. It is effective and inexpensive and can be used at home whenever needed.

Vitamin D for Health – Vitamin D Deficiency Systems

Vitamin D is critical to health. Vitamin D is known for contributing to joint and bone health by helping the body absorb calcium. People who have enough vitamin D are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis and joint pain. Vitamin D can also reduce the affects of arthritis and lessen back pain in many individuals. Vitamin D can also prevent certain types of cancers.

Vitamin D is produced naturally by the body when exposed to sunlight. If you are not far from the equator and have a light skin, you can get enough vitamin D by going outside around noon in shorts and a tank top without sunscreen for about 10 minutes. The UV-B rays hitting your skin can manufacture about 10,000 international units of vitamin D, enough for daily needs. Those who live away from the equator, with darker skins and the elderly will need more exposure to the sun.

winter clothing photoThis sun exposure amounts to about an hour a week. But, most people receive far less exposure to direct sunlight than this. Many people live far from the equator, work indoors at noon, or wear clothing that covers much of their skin.

The Vitamin D Council recommends that most people supplement with 5,000 international units of vitamin D daily to maintain optimal levels.

Vitamin D Deficiency Systems

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are often vague and subtle. They don’t shout, “You’re vitamin D deficient.” But, they can still impact your life. Symptoms such a tiredness and general aches and pains are characteristic of vitamin D deficiency.

A Harvard study indicates that worldwide, a billion people have vitamin D deficiency. The study reports that being deficient in vitamin D “may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu.”

Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong. So, frequent illnesses or infections like catching cold or getting the flu can point to a deficiency. For example, studies have shown that vitamin D helps reduce the frequency of respiratory tract infections.

Fatigue, tiredness, and even depression can be caused by low levels of vitamin D. Since vitamin D is produced in the body through exposure to the sun, we often feed “down” when Winter comes and we go outside all bundled up, exposing less skin to the sun.

Vitamin D improves absorption of calcium in the bones. When blood levels of vitamin D are low, bones lose strength and bone pain can results. Low bone mineral density and actual bone loss also can occur when vitamin D is deficient. People with lower back pain or pain in their legs may have a deficiency.

Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that people with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes over an eight-year period compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D

In this video Dr. Axe talks about the important natural sources of vitamin D3:

  • wild caught fish like salmon
  • raw fermented dairy products like cheese, kefir and yogurt
  • egg yokes
  • mushrooms

These foods, along with some sunshine, can help you maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.

In this video Dr. Axe talk about how to overcome Vitamin D deficiency with diet and lifestyle. Vitamin D is a pro hormone, which is essential for balancing the hormones in your body, and a fat-soluble vitamin, which supports the brain, bones, and tissue. Some warning signs that you may be Vitamin D deficient are if you struggle with any type of mood disorder, autoimmune disease, weak bones, weak muscles, or poor immune system.

In order to overcome a Vitamin D deficiency, you may want to get outside more often to get 20-30 minutes of natural sunlight. The average person should be getting about 5000 IUs a day. You also want to be consuming more Vitamin D-rich foods like wild caught fish, raw fermented dairy products, egg yokes, and mushrooms. Lastly, you want to be consuming a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement (5000 IUs daily). If you want to overcome Vitamin D deficiency, follow these steps, and you will start seeing results!

*This video content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe, and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

For more on naturally overcoming Vitamin D deficiency, you can check my article: http://draxe.com/vitamin-d-deficiency/?utm_campaign=Youtube-Nov-2014&utm_medium=social&utm_source=youtube&utm_term=vitamind

If you will not receive adequate vitamin D from these sources, you may want to take a supplement. Here is the supplement I take. It will probably be helpful for you, too.