“ Brand: Lloyds „
I bought this tens machine when I had just been released from hospital as I was in so much agony. I was also burning up and after using the pads for about a minute they would no longer stick.
The pulses themselves did very little to alleviate the pain although when I used the machine again the heat alone was helpful although I am having to use medical tape to keep the pads still.
You will need help putting them on so unless you have this is it pointless buying them.
For the price I paid £30 a while ago, I think heat pads would be more suitable as I found no benefit from the tens part of the machine. Others may have less pain and may find that they help. If you are in great physical pain this is probably not the best machine for you.
All in all I was very disappointed in the tens machine as I was in great agony and I needed pain relief but found none in this machine.
Many people suffer with chronic pain - statistics quote as many as 1 in 7. Chronic, or even intermittent, pain is miserable; it stops you from functioning properly and can make even the simplest of tasks, like washing or dressing, seem impossible. I'm lucky not to suffer from chronic pain, but I do get the odd twinge every now and then, as most of us do. Sometimes over the counter pain killers or prescription medicines just don't seem to do the trick, or you've simply swallowed your prescribed limit...and taking more would be foolish, not to mention downright dangerous. Alternatively, like me, you may just not like taking too many pills. And that's where my Lloyds Pharmacy Heated TENS Machine comes into play. A TENS machine is a digital hand held machine which offers a safe form of pain relief. It works on a range of different ailments, in a simple yet surprisingly effective way, and it can be used alongside or instead of pain medication.
~*~ WHAT IS A TENS MACHINE? ~*~
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation - which is more than a bit of a mouthful. Basically, it's a hand-held digitally operated gadget. It works by delivering small, painless electrical pulses through the skin and into your nerve fibres via electrodes placed on strategic areas of your body. You pop a couple of pads on or near the area in pain, and the electrical pulses generated by the TENS machine block the way pain signals are sent to your brain, thus fooling it into thinking there is no pain....clever eh? In addition, the electrical pulses stimulate your body into producing endorphins and encephalins - which are your body's own natural pain relieving chemical.
A TENS machine is recommended to help with all sorts of painful medical conditions, namely Rheumatoid and Osteo-arthritis, sciatica, whiplash, sports injuries, joint pain, muscle pain, neck injuries, back pain, shingles, phantom limb pain and menstrual pain.
~*~ HOW DOES IT WORK? ~*~
The Lloyds Pharmacy Heated TENS Machine is a small hand held device about the size of a portable CD player (yes, those things we all raved about until the iPod eclipsed them!). The box it comes in contains the main unit (white plastic thingy with big blue buttons and LCD screen), two cables, 4 x sticky gel pads and a DC 6V adaptor.
The unit can be operated either with 4 x AA batteries (not included in the box when you buy it) or with the included DC 6V adaptor. Personally I prefer to use it with batteries as it's much more portable and you don't have to sit next to the plug socket for 15 to 20 minutes. However, if you want to use the heated pad option on this machine, then you have to sit plugged into the mains (with all the batteries removed from the device), as the pads will only heat up through the 6V adaptor. Therefore, most of time I simply forgo the heated option, as it's way too fiddly and far too much phaffing about.
Setting the machine up to use is quite straightforward, but I do recommend you read the instructions very carefully. There are quite a lot of warnings as to who should and should not use a TENS machine and why. Anyone with cancer or with heart problems should seek expert advice before using, as the pulses may cause you more harm than good. Similarly, you need to read about where (and where not) to place the electrodes in order to obtain maximum benefit (and not cause any danger to yourself). For example, you should never place the sticky gel pads/electrodes directly onto your spine, or on any open, sore areas of skin.
Once you've ready to use the machine, you start by placing the four sticky gel pads in the areas that are hurting. The sticky gel pads contain the electrodes that transmit the signals to your nerve endings. It's best to place two pads to the right of the painful area and two pads to the left of the area. If you're not sure how to best place the pads, then there are several handy diagrams in the instruction booklet. The sticky pads are unbelievably cold and clammy when you stick them to your skin (due to the metal electrodes), and they always make me wince when I try and position them. The pads aren't overly sticky, and over time become even less so. Therefore, making sure they adhere to your skin can be a bit tricky at times (especially if they're on a hard to reach area of your body that you cannot see, such as your back). Sometimes it helps if someone else places them in position for you. The pads should never overlap (as that can be dangerous) and should ideally be placed 6 to 8 inches apart.
Once the sticky pads are firmly in position you can start the TENS machine going. Please note that if the sticky pads aren't stuck properly into your skin, then the programme won't start. The machine has 12 different settings to choose from, the lowest being a slow tapping motion and the highest offering a faster, kneading pace. Basically this machine offers the following programmes:-
* Programmes 1 to 4 (15 to 20 minute cycles) offer tapping pain relief programmes
* Programmes 5 to 8 (20 to 25 minute cycles) offer tapping and vibrating pain relief and massage programmes
* Programmes 9 to 12 (15 to 25 minute cycles) offer tapping and kneading pain relief and massage programmes
Once you chosen the pain relief programme you want (i.e. intense or soft / long or short), you then set the output intensity level, which dictates how strong the electrical pulses are going to be. You can choose anywhere between levels 1 to 10. Level 1 feels too soft to me - a bit like a mouse dancing on your back! I usually set my programme on levels 3 or 4 as that has a bit more bite to it, and you can really feel the vibrations resonating on your aching muscles. I've only ever made it as far as trying level 5, and that felt like I was wired into the electric chair and gave me St Vitus Dance! I therefore cannot comment on levels 6 to 10, but I would imagine they are pretty intense and only for the brave and experienced.....
As the machine starts to do its stuff, you will feel a mildish tingling sensation (a bit like an itch), which builds up into a stronger buzzing throb, and then subsides back to a tingle. It should certainly never hurt you or be unpleasant, and if it does, you either need to turn the output intensity setting down to a lower level, or check the area you've put the sticky pad on for any lesions or sores. As described above, most programmes last for 15 to 25 minutes, and this is usually long enough to gain lasting pain relief. However, if it hasn't quite done the trick for you, there's no reason why you can't repeat the same cycle for another 15 to 25 minutes or even try a different programme.
If you want to try the same programmes but with added heat, then the whole process is exactly the same, BUT you will need to remember to plug the machine into the mains (after removing the 4 x AA batteries). To set the temperature level, you choose between levels 1 and 10, which give an output heat of anything from 35°C to 55°C. I don't use this option very much, as it's very fiddly removing the batteries and then sitting next to the plug socket. I prefer the battery option without heat, as it means I can wander about at will. That said, the heated pads are very soothing on your skin, and they would certain help ease the pain in aching muscles and joints. I just prefer to be mobile, and the non-heated option works just as well on my aches and pains.
~*~ WHAT DOES IT DO FOR ME? ~*~
I'm certainly not a chronic pain sufferer, but I do get the odd twinge here and there at times. My partner suffers intermittently from a bad back, usually exasperated by over-doing things in the garden or around the house. A session on the TENS machine usually helps ease the worst of his aches and pains. Occasionally when I overdo things on the computer, I can predict I'll end up with a pain in my right shoulder and neck (over use of the mouse....). Using the TENS machine really does soothe the aching muscles and makes turning my neck properly much easier.
However, where my TENS machine really comes into its own is in dealing with menstrual cramps. I used to have to dose myself up on extra strength pain killers and walk around with a hot water bottle strapped to my lower back just to get through the day. The painkillers weren't too much of problem (although I did feel I was taking more than should be good for me), but you cannot really go into work with a hot water bottle strapped to your back; it's not discrete and it's not subtle (especially when you have a lurid purple fluffy covered one like I do....). However, a 15 to 20 minute session on the TENS machine removes the need for extra strength pain killers and hot water bottles. It really does muffle the painful cramping sensation in my lower back and keeps the pain at bay for several hours. I'm not saying it takes away the pain totally, but I can certainly function much more easily and make do with a lower dosage pain killer, and without the hot water bottle.
~*~ WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT IT? ~*~
Although it's very good at relieving the various aches and pains in our household, it has to be said that it does have some drawbacks and difficulties.
Namely, it can be quite fiddly to use. If you want the heated option, then you do need to take the batteries out before you plug yourself into the mains. Once you're plugged into the mains, you need to remain sitting in the same place for 15 to 25 minutes while the machine does its stuff. As I wrote earlier, I tend to forgo the heat relief element of the programme in favour of being more mobile. With the battery operated non-heated element, you can wander around at your will....though that too can have its problems, which leads me onto my next point....
Initially, the sticky pads are quite hard to position properly. You can fix them on yourself, but if they're in a hard to reach area you can't see what you are doing (i.e. your lower back), and it's hard to make sure they're spaced 6 to 8 inches apart and not overlapping. It's easier to get someone to position them for you; although the coldness of the metal electrodes may make you flinch every time they try and position them for you. The sticky pads can become easily dislodged once they've started to loose their stickiness if you move around too much. As soon as a pad becomes dislodged the TENS machine will stop working, so although that's quite a handy indicator that it's fallen off, it is a little frustrating. However, the pads do stay in place better if you've tucked them inside your clothing.
Another drawback is that the pads loose their stickiness quite quickly (bits of hair, animal fur, dead skin and general dust quickly make themselves at home on the gel pads...), and over time that makes them hard to adhere to your skin. The machine does come with 4 x plastic covers and you should make sure you pop them over the gel pads when you're not using them to keep the surface clean. Wiping them with a damp lint cloth may help if they become too encrusted, or if they are beyond saving (try living with a hairy Golden Retriever!) then replacement pads cost £14.99 for 4.
Although this version of TENS machine is fairly small, it's not particularly unobtrusive, so you cannot really wear it under your clothes. There are smaller more discrete ones though - Lloyds Pharmacy sell a smaller, two pad non-heatable version for £14.99.
~*~ IS IT SAFE FOR EVERYONE? ~*~
In a word, no. A TENS machine is not recommended for everyone, and if you are unsure, then you need to consult an expert. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy or labour (there are specially made TENS machines available to buy or hire for child-birth). If you wear a pacemaker or have heart problems then please check with your doctor before using. Similarly, those suffering from epilepsy, diabetes and some forms of cancer should seek medical advice. Lastly, this devise is not really suitable for those under 16 years of age and it should never be used on any areas of skins with wounds, burns or inflamed legions.
~*~ COST AND AVAILABILITY ~*~
The Heated TENS Machine is only available from branches of Lloyds Pharmacy or through their website www.lloydspharmacy.com
The cost is usually £59.99 per unit. However, we purchased ours for half price at £29.99 last year in our local branch, and I've seen them on offer before and since, so it's well worth keeping an eye out. At the time of writing this review (July 2009), Lloyds Pharmacy is currently offering this machine at half price again.
When your gel pads become totally unusable, then replacement Sticky Pads can be purchased from Lloyds Pharmacy at a cost of £14.99 for four.
If you like the idea of a TENS machine, but don't want or need one with a heating element, Lloyds Pharmacy offer two different models. There's a small digital hand-held one with two gel pads for £14.99 or a slightly larger one with four gel pads for £39.99. And if you're expecting, there are TENS machines available to either buy (£29.99) or hire to help you through labour.
~*~ RECOMMENDATION ~*~
If you're a chronic pain sufferer, it is recommended that you use your TENS machine for at least 15 minutes a day (slightly longer initially) in order to gain ongoing pain relief. However, I use mine on an ad-hoc basis as and when I need it, and it certainly seems to do the trick for me. A quick 15 to 20 minute session on my TENS machine usually sets me well on the road to feeling much better. Of course a TENS machine is not going to suit all, and it's certainly not going to work for everyone; however, it may be worth trying out if you get the chance. I'm all for it - as it certainly works for me and it means I put less drugs into my system.
I can certainly recommend a TENS machine as an effective form of pain relief - it's simple, clean, painless, drug-free and very effective. However, I'm not sure I'd recommend this exact model. We paid extra to have the heatable version and we hardly ever use this aspect of the machine. In retrospect, I wish we'd have gone for the next model down at £39.99, as it has more or less the same features and benefits, just no heatable pads. The heated element to our TENS machine is just too fiddly and impractical, and the drawbacks to using it far outweigh the benefits.TENS as an effective form of pain relief recommended with a full five stars. However, this particular model I cannot particularly recommend - I'll give it three stars. If you want to buy a TENS machine go for a cheaper one without the heatable pads.
~*~ SUMMARY OF FEATURES ~*~
- Safe and relatively easy to use
- Recommended by doctors, physiotherapists, sports clinics, pharmacists etc
- Can be used instead of or alongside pain relief medication / drugs
- Touch control buttons
- Large LCD display for ease of use
- 4 x heated gel pads
- 2 adjustable output channels
- 12 x mode settings (from simple tapping to more vigorous kneading)
- 10 x output intensity levels
- 10 x heat levels (35°C to 55°C)
- Can be used either with 4 x AA batteries or mains 6V option
~*~ FURTHER DETAILS ~*~
Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd
For more advice for sufferers of chronic pain, help is at hand with Action on Pain:-
12 mode settings to provide different pain relief and massage effects. 10 output intensities to suit different parts of the body and pain