Electrical Stimulation and Sensitivity
For some with Central Sensitization, electrical stimulation devices are a godsend. However, for others it’s a nightmare. Fortunately, electrical sensitivities are rare.
For those without electrical sensitivity, there are several wonderful devices that may help you with your pain. The first is the well-known TENS Unit. Another is the lesser known Alpha-Stim. And finally, the very popular electric blankets and heating pads. I’ll also talk about some alternatives to these devices for the electrically sensitive, and offer a few suggestions to reducing symptoms likely caused by electrical sensitivity.
The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit or TENS Unit, is primarily used for nerve related pain conditions (acute and chronic conditions). TENS Units works by sending stimulating electrical pulses across the surface of your skin and along the nerve strands. These stimulating electrical pulses help to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. They also help to stimulate your production of endorphins – your bodies natural painkillers.
However, for those with electrical sensitivities, a TENS unit provides nothing but severe muscle contractions and horrible pain. Since a TENS unit is not an option for those with electrical sensitivities, deep ultrasound heat may be and option, but only through chiropractic or physical therapy care.
Alpha-Stim units can help treat pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia in those who are not electrically sensitive.
“The Alpha-Stim is a small, handheld device that delivers advanced Microcurrent Electrical Therapy (MET) directly to your pain site through an exclusive, patented waveform. The unique waveform uses a highly refined and extensively researched microampere current to provide non-invasive, sustainable relief wherever and whenever pain strikes.”
However, for those who are, an Alpha-Stim can actually make worse or cause these symptoms. Instead, try using acupressure, acupuncture, or using menthol/mint oils topically over the sites producing the pain. These are all things you can learn to do yourself at home.
Price: $$$-$$$$ (often covered by medical insurance)
Electric Blankets & Heating Pads
For home therapy use, even electric heating blankets and electric heating pads may be too overstimulating, mentally or physically. These may reduce muscle pain by relaxing the muscles, but may at the same time aggravate nerve pain.
You may notice an increase in nerve pain physically in this way, or you may notice it mentally in the guise of racing thoughts and mental and/or physical restlessness. This is particularly noticeable if you use these devices before or during sleep.
If these devices are too overstimulating for you, switch to heat gel packs, topical menthol creams (e.g. IcyHot or BioFreeze) or patches, peppermint or wintergreen oils (topical), or hot baths.
Reducing Electrical Stimulation
While I don’t know of any way yet to reduce electrical sensitivity, I have found many ways to help reduce electrical stimulation to help prevent symptoms from forming.
- Use the speaker phone option with your cell phone rather than holding it to your ear. Avoid using Bluetooth ear pieces as well.
- Sit as far away from the TV and your computer as possible.
- If you have a laptop, consider getting a large secondary monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse with your laptop set away from you. This will reduce symptoms, but not eliminate them.
- Keep alarm clocks and any other electrical objects at least three feet from your head/body at night.
- Keep your cellphone in a purse or bag instead of in your pocket.
- If you tend to build up a lot of static electricity in the colder months, so much that’s is a big problem, consider moving to a warmer and more humid climate.