TENS unit safe?

I'm about to start PT. Do I need to go through the TENS unit drama or are they ok to use? I have a pm not an ICD. Called my cardiology office... as usual you need to wait 7-8 years for a callback.

 Thanks.


5 Comments

I certainly wouldn't

by AgentX86 - 2021-11-24 17:20:50

TENS units are not safe on the torso, at least. Whether they are safe on the limbs is up for debate. You EP is the one to ask because the risk may be condition dependent.

Again, I'd not go near a TENS device.

TENS note

by stillshocked - 2021-11-24 21:41:36

I have been told a TENSis not safe.  I would contact your electrophisigist or tge people who interrogate your device.

Good luck

My experience

by Gotrhythm - 2021-11-27 12:56:31

I have a pacemaker, not CRT or defriblilator. About 10 years ago, I used a TENS unit on my lower left arm without any ill effects whatsoever, either on me or the pacemaker. We should note that at that time I was paced only in the atrium, and only about 35%, so I wasn't pacemaker dependent. I believed whatever risk there was--if any--was slight. 

The body is an electrical conductor but relatively speaking a poor conductor.At a weak setting I doubted if the current would ever get anywhere near my heart.  I believed it was safe on extremities. I never went above the medium settings.

I used the TENS to keep the muscles of my lower arm toned while I waited for surgery for a pinched nerve. Today I am pacemaker dependent. If I saw a benefit that couldn't be achieved through exercise or massage, I'd probably use the TENS again, but I wouldn't use it on the chest, or back, or neck.

I offer the benefit of my eperience for what it's worth. I have no opinion about what you should do.

 

Electrical resistance and danger

by AgentX86 - 2021-11-27 20:28:58

Actually, the resistance of the body is quite low (~300 ohms). What saves us in everyday life is the high resistance of the skin (~100,000 ohms). Something like 7mA across the heart or 100mA across the bode has a high probability of death. A 1.5v battery would result in about a 5mA current.

This says nothing about what this current would do to a pacemaker, which operates in the microamps.

Now, current flows from here to there and doesn't take side trips unless something is in the way. Since we're 98% water, these side trips can be ignored.

A TENS units .use break down the skin's insulation, so the above applies (though is simplistic). So, it matters a LOT where the TENS units is used. A current in one limb is unlikely to cause any problems. Across the body is very risky, at least.

This why we're not to use the body-fat measuring scales. The current goes from one foot to the other. It's not a lot of current but  it's not worth the chance.

As I said, there is a lot of simplification above  but hopefully it'll get the idea across. A TENS units in trained hands (armed with the knowledge that there be a pacemaker lurking in there) shouldn't be a problem. I'd still clear it with my EP or cardiologist.

AgentX86

by Gotrhythm - 2021-11-29 12:21:40

Thanks for adding the clarification.

Your knowledge of things electrical and your ability to explain them in terms a lay person can grasp are a gift to us all. A gift I am extremely grateful for.

You know you're wired when...

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