How to Use the Rehabilicare ProMax TENS Unit

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The TENS unit is great relief for back pain.
The TENS unit is great relief for back pain. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Doctors often prescribe a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) unit when pain persists for a prolonged period and limits your activities. The Rehabilicare ProMax TENS Unit is one such device. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for use because there are some precautions that must be taken. Used properly there are no side effects or risks like there are when taking medications. The use of this device speeds up your recovery and return to normal function. You can take an active part in your own recovery by having this portable unit at your disposal.

Instructions

The unit is used to help muscles and soft tissue damage recover faster, reduce pain and swelling, increase blood circulation and range of motion and reduce muscle spasms. It can be used to alleviate lower back pain, stiff joints, muscle spasms, sports-related injuries and also for treatment after surgical procedures. The unit is just for pain relief, however, and is not a cure.

The face of the stimulator unit has several program buttons. The "Mode" button allows you to select your therapeutic mode. The "Pulse" button sets the pulse rate as well as the duration and it checks on your usage. The "Ch. 1" button increases the time, pulse and intensity setting for Channel 1 and the "Ch. 2" button decreases the time, pulse and intensity setting for Channel 2. On the back of the unit are two channel jacks where the lead wires are inserted.

There are several functions that can be programmed. The "Time" feature sets the time the stimulator will stay on. There are several therapeutic modes: Normal (a repeating pulse with no variation); Burst (two groups of eight pulses per second with no variation); Modulate (a group of pulses that repeat where the rate and variations change and the intensity stays the same); Strength Duration (a group of pulses that repeat where the rate remains constant but the duration and intensity change); and Simple Modulated Pulse (a group of pulses 12 seconds long where the intensity stays the same but the rate and duration vary).

The following are terms used for settings for the pulse parameter. Rate is the pulses per second; Duration, the length of the pulse in microseconds; Cycle, how many seconds each group of pulses lasts; Span, how far apart the groups of pulses trigger (which is determined and set by the unit); and Intensity, adjusted on each of the channels for the amplitude or strength of each pulse.

The unit has several automatic functions such as an automatic shut off if there is some sort of interruption. It will drop down to zero percent and slowly intensify back to the previous setting so you don’t get a jolt. It can also recall previous settings, check on whether the lead wires and electrodes are properly installed, and keep track of both your and the device's usage time.

The unit has two lead wires and electrodes that connect and carry impulses from the stimulator to the electrodes. They have a plug on one end and two pins on the other. You can use one or two leads but the two pins on the other end must be hooked up for the unit to work. The electrodes connect to the lead wires. They come in either disposable form (where they can stay hooked up for three to five days) or carbon rubber, which are reusable.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are pregnant you should not use the unit.
  • It should not be used on your head, chest, neck or mouth, in areas where there is sensory loss or in an area where the skin is infected or irritated.
  • You should not use the unit near heavy machinery or high frequency surgical devices. Keep it away from children and water. Do not use heavy equipment or machinery while using the unit.

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