TENS unit? Surgery?

Question: What exactly is a TENS Unit? Has anyone on the list had surgery for carpal tunnel? What did it involve? Did it help? I have to go see the hospital in March and this is bound to come up then. My local NHS physio service won’t get a laser by the way, saying there is insufficient evidence that the benefit justifies the expense.

Answer 1: TENS machines are like those gadgets advertised in Sunday supplements to magically reduce spare tyres etc with light electric currents through the muscles. They can be used for slimming but are also useful to some people for pain relief. My home version is the size of a small walkman, and it has a belt clip. You have attached two electrodes mounted on sticky plasters on either side of the painful area (eg above/below elbow, or side neck/shoulder blade). Then you set the current going for about 15 minutes, gradually increasing the current. It feels very similar to acupuncture with electric currents. You can get different sized pads for different parts of the body to make it easier to use.

Recommendation: My physio let me borrow a set before I bought one which was very useful. When I was looking for a set (this was before Boots launched theirs) I contacted a company called Allied Health who quoted £69. I thought that was too steep and left it. But about 6 weeks later I got another letter from them saying, basically, that they were sorry I hadn’t ordered from them and here’s a £20 voucher off. This was last July so I don’t know if they are still doing the same thing but if they have now got competition from the High Street the price might have dropped anyway. I use it mainly for elbow and neck/shoulder aches, when things get tight and angry. I find it very helpful, especially as I can’t take Ibuprofen etc anymore.

Answer 2: I have recently had the endoscopic Carpal tunnel release. The pain relief is instant, stitches out after 7 days and the recovery is about three weeks, although after 10 days I could function quite well. There is some weakness and tenderness from the operation but apart from that I am no longer in pain!!! Hope this helps.

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