Treating “Shaq Sized Pain” with Over The Counter TENS Devices
Some days it seems that Shaq has taken over my TV. The former LSU big man has been the face of Icy Hot, Gold Bond, and Buick commercials for quite some time. While treating “Shaq Sized Pain” with an electrical patch may sound great, does it actually work?
There are actually several new OTC “TENS” Devices (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, a fancy word for electric patch) over the counter in the USA. Icy Hot SmartRelief, Omron Electrothearpy Pain Relief, AccuRelief TENS Pain Relief System, etc. are over the counter versions which are comparable to TENS units obtained with prescription. They are used to treat back, muscle, and joint pain by sending a low voltage impulse through the skin into nerves which is thought to decrease pain sensations. While many people use them and believe in their benefits, they are typically used as an adjunct to other treatments or medications for pain and not as primary treatments.
These OTC devices are generally safe. Patients who may have issues with electrical impulses, such as people with pacemakers, epilepsy, or who are pregnant should avoid using them. Otherwise, they are generally safe. It’s important to apply them to a clean, dry, area on your skin to get the most benefit. Also, be sure to start at a low level and gradually increase the power over a few sessions until you find a level that gives you relief. As always, discuss this type of treatment with your doctor or pharmacist if you have reservations or questions!
Your Family Pharmacist,