Electrotherapy TENS Unit: Effective Pain Relief From Omron


Electrotherapy TENS vs. old injury

Over twenty years ago, I sustained a serious injury to my left ankle, and it hasn’t been quite right since. My ankle problems have been such a constant factor in my life that I have christened the offending joint “Ankle of Doom”. It is because of Ankle of Doom that I have permanently abandoned my dream of running a full marathon. Half-marathon training is challenging enough: for at least a week after my long runs, Ankle of Doom puts me through so much pain that I want to weep.

When I was offered a review unit of an Electrotherapy TENS device from Omron, I thought I may as well give it a try. Between Ankle of Doom and the acute pain that has developed in my shoulders as a result of long hours working in front of a computer, I knew that I would be able to give this unit a thorough workout.

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It cannot cure the underlying cause of pain, but it provides temporary relief by preventing the pain message from reaching the brain. Many people who have used TENS therapy have found it to be effective and easy to use.

Compact and easy to use

When my Electrotherapy TENS unit from Omron arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by its size – or lack thereof. The unit is small enough to fit comfortably into my hand, and it is very lightweight. It comes with a belt clip that can be used to attach it to the waistband of almost any clothing, and it feels almost invisible when it’s being worn in this way. This makes it truly portable – there is no need to stay rooted to one spot during your fifteen minute treatments.


The unit is very easy to set up and operate. It runs on two standard AAA batteries which are kept firmly in place by the backing which is removed and reattached with the twist of a coin. It comes with a pair of standard pads complete with a holder, a thin cable with the electrodes (about the thickness and length of the ear buds you use with your iPod), the belt clip, easy-to-follow instructions and a nifty little pouch to store it all in.


There are nine preset modes on the unit. Six allow you to target specific parts of the body (shoulder, lower back, arm, foot, leg, joint), while the other three (tap, knead and rub) are massage modes.

To operate the unit, you simply apply the pads to the part of your body that is hurting, select one of the nine modes, which are clearly labelled on the display, and select the intensity. The intensity can be adjusted at any time during the fifteen minute cycle, and when the time is up, the unit shuts off.

The results

After using the Electrotherapy TENS unit for a couple of weeks, the results are promising. With at least one fifteen-minute treatment per day, the pain in my ankle has been a lot more manageable. I have not had the week-long agony that usually follows long runs. I doubt if I’ll be able to revive my plans to run a full marathon, but I do believe that training for my upcoming half-marathon will be a lot more bearable, and I think that my recovery from the race itself will go a lot more smoothly than usual.


If anything, the unit is a little too effective. It blocks the pain signal so effectively that it is easy to forget that there is a problem, and you run the risk of not being duly cautious of using the affected part of your body. However, combined with rest and whatever other treatment your doctor might recommend, Electrotherapy TENS can make life with an injury a lot more bearable.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. All photos credited to the author.

Disclaimer: A review unit of the Omron Electrotherapy TENS device was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. This post is a true reflection of my experiences to date with this product. The experiences of others may differ. This review is not intended to replace or supplement the advice given by a registered medical professional.


His Brother’s Keeper


It is a cold snowy afternoon, and the boys have just finished doing their homework. George – eleven years old now and as tall as me – is sitting on the couch trying not to cry. I am on the floor with my back up against the couch, holding his foot in my lap. I start ministering to his sore toe as gently as I can, knowing that no matter how hard I try, it’s going to hurt.

For the last couple of weeks, George has been plagued by an ingrown toenail. He was at the doctor earlier in the week – a feat in itself for this boy with autism who finds doctors to be mysterious and scary – and I am carefully following the care-and-cleaning instructions that I have been given.

He tries so hard to be brave as I clean and bathe his toe, but he cannot help getting distressed. As he cries out in pain, James suddenly appears in front of us. James – nine years old and full of energy – is just in from throwing snow in the back yard. His gaze moves from his brother on the couch to me on the floor surrounded by First Aid supplies.

“I want to do it,” he says.

“You want to do what?” I ask, not understanding.

“George’s toe,” he says. “I want to do it. George is my brother. I’m the one who gets to take care of him.”

I regard my son, blown away yet again by how much love and compassion is within him. I think about the practicalities of him dressing George’s toe and how I have already been kicked several times during these First Aid sessions. I don’t want James to get hurt.

But my Spidey-sense is telling me to listen to James. I switch places with him, and following my instructions, he calmly takes care of George’s toe. George is still crying but he is visibly less distressed. Maybe James’s small, light fingers are gentler than mine. Or maybe George is responding to the love of his brother.

James uses a little bit too much of the antiseptic lotion, and the dressing and bandage are a little haphazardly applied. But none of that matters next to the waves of kindness that are radiating from James.

With the job done, James gently kisses the newly applied bandage and gets onto the couch.

“You’re my George,” he says, wrapping his arms around his brother.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.


Embracing The Pain


Yesterday I ran a half-marathon. A race report will follow later this week, but for now I will say that it was an excruciating race. I wasn’t on top form going in, and I had some serious issues with dehydration in the latter stages. But still, I dug deep and found what I needed to finish.

Getting home seemed to take forever. I had to take public transit from the finish line back to the start, where my car was parked, and then I had a thirty minute drive home. By the time I hobbled through my front door, serious muscle pain had set in. After my shower, I put on compression socks (compression socks are my saviour), poured some much-needed coffee and settled myself on the couch for a good long layabout session.

My husband walked into the room and looked at me with some amusement. Nothing new there, and to be fair I probably do look a little funny in the throes of post-race agony.

“Do you think I’ve earned the right to complain?” I asked him, looking at him beseechingly.

“No,” he said immediately, “And I’ll tell you why.”

I settled back, prepared for a long discourse. My husband’s explanations will not be remembered for their brevity.

He explained that basically, I had brought this pain on myself. I had voluntarily participated in this race, knowing full well that I would be hurting afterwards. He reminded that I had even made reference to the pain the previous day, before the race had even happened. Pain was a foregone conclusion, and I knew that when I signed up.

OK. It sounds a little unsympathetic, but I have to admit that he is right. I never sign up for these races expecting to feel like I’ve been lying in the sun doing nothing.

“That’s true,” I said to my husband, a little grudgingly.

“Number Two,” he said, holding up two fingers.

Oh boy. There was a Number Two?

Number Two, the pain was a result of a great accomplishment. I had trained hard, I had dug deep, and I had achieved something that I should be proud of. The pain was my body’s way of telling me how I could be better and stronger. Therefore I should bask in the glow of what the pain represents, and I should embrace it. Even though it might hurt, it was building me up.

Well, that made me feel good. It certainly helped put things into perspective. It’s not like I was in pain after, say, falling on the ice or being in a car accident. I was in pain after finishing a half-marathon. And even though I didn’t have a great race, that is something to be proud of.

There was a Number Three. If I participate in a half-marathon and then complain about it afterwards, what message am I giving to my boys? We want them to be able to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones, and we want them to think of that as a positive experience. Acknowledging pain is fine, but the focus should always be on the accomplishment and the experience.

Well. Just goes to show that if you ask your husband a flippant question, you might get an in-depth response that is filled with insights. I’ll still complain at least a little bit, but this whole conversation has made me look at post-race pain in a whole new way.

Thank you, husband.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.



Today’s prompt in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge calls for bloggers to post a “vintage” picture of themselves, along with a description of where they were in their journey when the picture was taken.

I don’t know whether this picture classifies as vintage, but it was taken when I was on the cusp of moving from one life to another. George was not yet born, but he was certainly making his presence felt. You can probably tell from the fetching attire that I was in hospital, and I was in the throes of labour. That expression on my face may look like a smile, but really, it was a grimace of pain.

George made his appearance about four hours after the picture was taken. My life has never been the same since, and the life I have now is infinitely richer and more beautiful because of the presence of my two children.



5 Fantastic Posts From Fellow Health Activists


For today’s prompt in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, I can either promote some of my favourite health activists, or post links to some of my favourite posts written by fellow bloggers in this challenge. I have chosen to do the latter, even though it is so difficult to pick out just a few posts from among the multitude that have resonated with me. Through the other participants in the challenge, I have learned so much about health conditions that do not personally affect me directly.

Here, then, are five posts in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge that have had a particular impact on me.

1) How could anyone not be drawn to a post written by someone who claims to be a former ass-hat? Here is someone who has gone through inordinate amounts of pain, and is facing it all head-on with a delightful combination of frankness and humour.

2) This post, written by someone with Type 1 Diabetes as well as a hefty dose of courage, is truly educational. Most of us know, on an intellectual level, what diabetes is. But reading this post gives you a glimpse into what the life of a Type 1 Diabetic is really like.

3) This blogger lives with Fibromyalgia, and has some pretty lofty and highly worthwhile goals. This post describes what some of those goals are. Hopefully they can become a reality.

4) We all hear ridiculous myths about the things that affect us. In this post, someone with Lupus weighs in on Lupus-related myths – some of which I actually believed myself until reading this.

5) When someone close to you is in the throes of a debilitating migraine, what do you do? Do you know how to take care of them? This post gives some great pointers.

There is another favourite, but I am going to share that with you tomorrow in the form of a guest post written by the blogger concerned. I’ll just give you one hint: it made me cry.



Guest Post: If I Look so Healthy, Why do I Feel so Rotten?

I met Simona Rinfreschi through the World Moms Blog community, and it quickly became apparent that we had a lot in common. We share many character traits and have had similar life experiences, and there is a good possibility that our paths crossed over twenty years ago when we both attended the same university, majoring in the same subject. As I’ve gotten to know Simona, she has shared with me some of her medical challenges, and she has graciously agreed to write a guest post for me today.

Isn’t it dreadful that, recently, I found myself praying that they would find something wrong with me?
I can see you shaking your heads.  Why on earth would you want an abnormal blood test result?  In my case, it’s simply because I’ve been battling severe pain and fatigue for 8 years already and so far nobody has really been able to help me!
My symptoms, combined with an absence of positive test results,has led to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The medical dictionary definition of Fibromyalgia is:  ” a neurosensory disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. The condition is chronic (ongoing), but pain comes and goes and moves about the body. The disorder is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized and is often complicated by mood and anxiety disorders.”
I’ve encountered two main types of medical professionals so far, those who think that Fibromyalgia doesn’t really exist and is a psychosomatic manifestation of my clinical depression,
(Definition of psychosomatic:
1. Of or relating to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes.
2. Relating to or concerned with the influence of the mind on the body, and the body on the mind, especially with respect to disease)
and those who are happy to have given me a “diagnosis” even if they have no clue how to help me!
I actually find myself getting angry when they tell me I’m depressed, because I’m actually not depressed right now!  I did go through severe episodes of clinical depression as a teen and young woman, as well as post-partum depression following the birth of my son.  That’s how I know that this pain and fatigue is not caused by depression! I can remember quite clearly how I felt when I was depressed and I don’t feel at all like that now!
Ironically, psychologically, I’ve never been better!  Around 3 years ago I was hospitalised for 4 weeks in a psychiatric hospital. There I learnt how to get out of the pit of depression once and for all!
In the last 8 years I have spent a small fortune on medicines, blood &  other diagnostic tests, alternative therapies, supplements and consultations with a wide array of “specialists” including 2 psychiatrists, all to no avail!
I now find myself with a dilemma.  Do I simply accept that I have to live with this pain and fatigue for the rest of my life, or do I keep fighting and searching for a way to feel better?
Depending on the kind of day I’m having, I’m either willing to keep searching or I tell myself that it is what it is, and leave it at that!
So, this is how I’m dealing with my Fibromyalgia at the moment:
  •  I’ve come off most of my chronic meds (under medical supervision) because (since they weren’t really helping) I thought I’d save myself some money!
  • I’ve sent my medical records to yet another doctor for review, because it is possible to have Fibromyalgia and something else too!
  • I focus every day on all the things that I am grateful for
  • I do my best to listen to my body and eat what I feel I need to, rest whenever I can etc.
  • Ensure I have a good laugh at least a couple of times a day (luckily I have an amazing family & friends with a great sense of humour to help me with that!)
Like everything else in life, the diagnosis of a chronic disease or disorder per se isn’t what counts.  What counts is how you choose to live with it.  I know a couple of Fibromyalgia sufferers who don’t work at all and who are all “woe is me”.  I’d rather laugh …  and have my friends and family laugh right along with me!
Do you suffer from a disease or disorder which makes you appear perfectly healthy even though you’re not?  How do you deal with the fact that you get accused of being “lazy” or “faking” it because people can’t see the pain you’re in?
This is an original guest post by Mamma Simona (a regular contributor to World Moms Blog) who is the proud mom of two terrific teens.  She also shares her Cape Town home with a super supportive husband, 2 cats and 2 dogs. For more of Simona’s most intimate and candid thoughts,  feel free to check out her alter ego, Phoenix, at
(Photo credit: Simona Rinfreschi)

Teeth Behaving Badly

As I sit here early on a Sunday morning, my jaw is hurting, I have just taken more pain medication, and I feel as as I am getting a cold.

That’s probably no big surprise. My immune system has taken quite a hit over the last couple of days. Extra vitamins, Vitamin C, echinacea, and plenty of fluids and rest should do the trick.

Rest? Ha! Like that’ll happen!

The culprit of all of this grief is the dental surgery I had on Friday. It had been a long time coming. Due to my absolute phobia of dentists, plus the fact that the last dentist I went to made a complete botch-job in my mouth, I had put off seeing a dentist for almost seven years. When my husband finally dragged me in kicking and screaming 18 months ago, they did all kinds of X-rays and examinations, and then produced a list of the dental work that I needed.

The list went on for two pages.

Don’t worry, they said. We’ll sedate you and you won’t remember a thing.

The idea of being given lots of drugs to knock me into sweet oblivion was very appealing, but still. I got the heebie-jeebies every time I thought of spending an entire day at the mercy of a man who had chosen a career of digging in other peoples’ mouths.

So once again, I played the waiting game.

About two months ago, I got a nasty throat infection that put me out of action for a week. It was accompanied by a fever of over 102 degrees, and it made my entire body hurt. When I went to see the doctor, I was told that this infection more than likely originated from an infection in my gums.

And that was it. The game was up. I had no choice but to go to the dreaded dentist. Except when I went back this time, new problems had arisen. The two-page list was now two and a half pages.

An appointment was made to get the work done. I picked up pre-meds a few days ahead of time, and then waited in dreaded anticipation. On Thursday night, I took three heavy-duty sleeping pills as instructed. They knocked me out, and until four in the morning, I slept not like a baby, but like a person who doesn’t have a baby. At that point, I had to wake up to have coffee and toast, and then I went to sleep again for a couple of hours.

An hour before the appointment, I took another pill, and by the time I showed up there I was well and truly zonked out. I was actually seeing double.

I lay down in the dentist’s chair. A blood pressure cuff was placed around my arm. A heart rate monitor was attached to my finger, and an oxygen mask was put over my face. I was given more drugs to take, and then I was covered with a glorious soft blue blanket.

That’s the last thing I remember with any clarity. Technically, I was conscious throughout the day. I had to be, so I could obey instructions like “open wide” and “bite down”. But I was definitely somewhere off in La La Land.

After six hours or so, I was allowed to leave. I have a vague recollection of my husband being brought into the room to receive instructions, and then I taken out to the car. Apparently a wheelchair was involved. When I arrived home, my husband gently guided me to the couch in the living room, where I lay down and pretty much crashed. I was roused now and then to eat soup or drink Gatorade.

We will not discuss the dribbling that happened as I drank.

Now, it is two days post-dentist, and I’m doing kind of OK. The effects of the sedation took until sometime yesterday afternoon to wear off, but I still have some pain, particularly at the spot where they had to extract a tooth. Quite apart from the pain, I find it very disconcerting to have a gap where the tooth used to be, and I am really looking forward to being fitted with my temporary flipper. My teeth feel very weird from all the cleaning and scaling and whatever else they did.

And just think… a month from now I get to do it all again.

Oh, boy.

(Photo credit: