Ever reached for something in the top cabinet and feel an unexpected pain radiate in your shoulder? It happens to many people who suffer from acute shoulder pain. We use our shoulders all the time. They are the most mobile ball and socket joints in the human body. The humerus (the long arm bone) fits into the scapula (the shoulder blade). This is surrounded by the rotator cuff, a collection of four tendons that gives the shoulder its extreme flexibility.
Not uncommonly, overuse can cause the rotator cuff to become irritated. An inflamed rotator cuff is called tendinitis. This is one of the most common forms of acute shoulder pain. Tendinitis occurs as a result of certain shoulder-heavy sports—think baseball pitchers, for instance—or manual labor. Tendinitis is generally treated with alternating ice and heat along with rest. However, certain forms of electrotherapy can also be effective when treating tendinitis and other acute shoulder pain injuries.
How TENS + EMS Can Combat Pain & Bring Healing
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a non-invasive, drug-free therapy. It works by using gentle electrical pulses to block pain signals from the brain. These signals are sent through two or four electrode pads. The pads are then placed on areas afflicted with pain. It is an increasingly popular alternative to over-the-counter and prescription painkillers. For an inflamed or torn rotator cuff, place TENS electrode pads on the front and back of the shoulder. The same can be done for bursitis, an inflammation of the protective sacs called bursas that surround tendons.
Bursitis can also benefit from increased blood flow to the area, which can be improved with EMS. EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) sends similar pulses as TENS. Instead of blocking pain signals, EMS stimulates the muscles. This helps to strengthen muscles and, of course, increase the blood flow. EMS is a great therapy to use for repetitive stress injuries as the additional strength it provides can help protect against further strain.
Another common type of acute shoulder pain is arthritis. In general, both shoulder pain and arthritis become more common after the age of 60. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is the wearing down of cartilage. This can lead to stiffness, swelling and pain. Living with osteoarthritis in the shoulder can be very difficult because we use the shoulder so often. Using EMS on the shoulder can aid in decreasing swelling and removing stiffness. With EMS, it may be possible to increase the range of motion. TENS can also be used around the aching areas to provide relief.
Acute shoulder pain may also be the result of a previous fracture in the arm or shoulder. TENS does a nice job of treating post-injury pain, wherever it may be. Place electrode pads around the center of pain and use as often as needed.
TENS + EMS as a Solution
If acute shoulder pain is plaguing you throughout your daily life, TENS treatment may be a great solution for you. Many TENS units, like iReliev’s, are made for home-use so that you can control your treatment schedule. iReliev’s TENS + EMS device is portable and smaller than some cellphones. It is safe to wear your TENS unit whenever and wherever you need it, even if that means while running errands or doing physical activities.