Easing Period Pain with TENS
If you have to reach for painkillers and a hot water bottle for pain relief (1,2,3) when you get your period you’re not alone. Painful menstrual bleeding, called dysmenorrhoea, is a common problem affecting many women. And while for some the discomfort is merely annoying, for others it can have a significant impact on day-to-day activities, also leading to absenteeism from work and school. Recent research, however, has shown that a TENS machine like PainPod or Hidow can help (1,2,3) to ease symptoms of period pain and provide drug-free pain relief.
There are two types of dysmenorrhoea with primary being the most common. The pain starts one or two days before you get your period and lasts one to three days with the culprit being a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin which triggers muscles in the uterus to contract and shed its lining. Secondary dysmenorrhoea is less common and caused by an underlying reproductive disorder such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroids, with pain starting earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasting longer.
The predominant symptom of period pain is a cramping, throbbing pain in the pelvic area, which can leave your abdomen sore and tender much like your leg muscles after overdoing it running on a treadmill. Additionally, there are symptoms associated with period pain from lower back and thigh pain to headaches, and for some their monthly period can trigger a nasty migraine.
While they are designed for all-over pain relief (4,5) from niggling injuries to conditions including arthritis, studies show that a TENS machine can also be effective in helping to “switch off” menstrual cramps while also easing the discomfort of lower back pain (6), headache (7) or migraine (8). And they’re designed to be discreet and easily used on the go, at home or work.
For on-demand period pain relief (1,2,3), attach a set of small pads or medium pads to your abdomen, then switch on your PainPod or Hidow. TENS works by sending gentle electrical pulses through pads attached to the affected area, blocking pain signals that would otherwise be sent to the brain, and encouraging the body to produce endorphins to reduce pain naturally. Once you’ve finished easing your menstrual cramps you can use the TENS machine on any other areas of concern such as your lower back, then treat yourself to a relaxing, stress-busting massage.
For more information about the various PainPod and Hidow machines and accessories, click here.
- Barbosa Mde. Evaluation of pain thresholds across the menstrual cycle using TENS. 68(7): p. 901-8, 2013
- J Obstet Gynaecol, (OVA) Schiotz. Treatment of dysmenorrhoea with a new TENS device. 27(7): p. 726-8, 2007
- Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Proctor. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea: p. Cd002123, 2002 (1)
- Vance, et al. Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence. Pain Management. 3: 197-209, 2014
- Kwon, DR. et al. Short-term micro-current electrical neuromuscular stimulation to improve muscle function in the elderly: A randomised, double-blinded, sham-controlled clinical trial. Medicine. 96:26, 2017
- Guild, D.G. Mechanical therapy for low back pain. 39(3): p. 511-6, 2012
- Classification of TENS to treat headache. 79(128): p. 37946-8, 2014
- Ellens. Peripheral neuromodulation for migraine headache. 24: p 109-17, 2011