Some background information about TENS:
In the U.S. the sales of TENS devices (stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is regulated by the FDA and a presciption from a medical professional is required to purchase one commercially. They cost anywhere from $40 on up. They all function basically the same way. Using a battery power source the TENS device produces a high voltage but low current signal at a specified frequency and duration. This electrical current is applied externally to the skin of the body using sticky foam electrode pads. The more expensive units have advanced features like dual-channels, programmable functions, a digital readout, etc. They have been around for many years and are used by doctors, therapists, chiropractors, rehab clinics, college and professional sports organizations and individuals. Anyone seeking relief from muscle aches and pain that does not involve the use of drugs. This article, found on a web site for a company that sells TENS units, provides some interesting if albeit theoretical claims on how TENS devices do their thing. I have no connection whatsoever to this company but it's worth reading. I found their assumptions to be quite plausable. http://www.medcareservice.com/Pain-Control-Mechanism-Article.cfm. I also found some basic guidance about using a TENS unit specifically for RLS at this site: http://www.ehow.com/how_4597657_electric-nerve-stimulation-restless-legs.html.
My Restless Legs Story
I created this web page to try and help others out there who suffer from RLS. In my search for some kind of help I found little serious discussion or useful information on the internet concerning using a TENS unit to relieve the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS. Surprisingly there does not appear there have ever been any credible medical studies of the potential benefits either. I've had RLS since I was a child. More so now as I'm middle age. I have the typical symptoms... sitting down after a day of work and the legs start to jerk and twitch away to the point I sometimes have to go to bed early just to get some relief. Usually this is enough to get them to subside but sometimes, on really bad days, the RLS seems to follow me to bed. I've been building electronic projects since I was a teenager and I had made a simple electrical nerve stimulator a few years ago from a circuit I found on the internet. I used it for a bad knee and even for some very bad back strains. Always with excellent results. Basically, the device overrides the nerve impulses to the brain that are causing the pain (or twitches in the case of RLS) and, for a time, fool the brain that they no longer exist. Even when you turn the device off the benefits of the stimulation treatment continues for several days more. The pain/symptoms stop. It's that simple.
Sourcing the parts and building the TENS device
I found you can locate all the parts for the TENS unit from any good electronics supply house. Mouser Electonics is one source that I often use. Purchased together they did not cost me more than $10 plus a little time to construct. The power transformer is connected backwards to form a step-up circuit. As to the electrode pads, they are not FDA regulated and I'm able to buy all I need without a prescription from any number of online sources. They run me around $10 for a pack of four. I prefer the square ones but the rounds ones will work just fine. I adjust the amplitude (pulse strength) to the point below where the stimulation is slightly painfull but not so low as it cannot be felt. The nerve stimulator draws little power from the 9v. battery and will last for several weeks. When I feel the pulse is weakening when first connected it is time to change out the battery.
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