How to Use a TENS / EMS Unit for Shoulder Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

How to Use a TENS / EMS Unit for Shoulder Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

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hey everybody’s Doctor Jo, and today I’m
going to show you how to use a tens / EMS unit for shoulder pain. so let’s get started. The folks at Healthmate Forever sent me their T40AB TENS / EMS unit, so I’m gonna use this one today, if
you’re interested in purchasing any of their tens / ems products you can click on
the link up there. so the important thing to know with tens and EMS is those are
different things. so if you’re just trying to do something for pain, increase
the circulation, that’s the tens. if you’re actually wanting to contract the
muscle to help strengthen it, that’s the EMS. so it is very different things.
so the channels on here you want to use them specifically for what they are. with
this particular unit it’s really nice because it has a whole bunch of options
and the little icons show you what you can use and they show you when you’re
trying to do strengthening. it has somebody doing muscular stuff, and then
the earlier ones on are the tens unit. but it also has the option of if you’re
just doing the shoulder, the neck, the back, you can just click on that specific
one. so it will pull up a setting for that as well. for the tens unit, you
usually want to use 4 electrodes and that’s two channels. you can use just one
channel which is two electrodes, but if you’re having general shoulder pain, you know if it’s just kind of aching in here. maybe you’ve had a surgery and you’re you were
okay to use the tens unit, you probably want to use the four electrodes because
that’s going to get the whole area, and if you have just a specific point tender
maybe it’s your bicep tendon up here in the groove, you can use two electrodes
and just really get into that spot there. so it’s really important to know which
ones to use. so if you’re using the four electrodes, you want to have the two
channels actually crossing each other for an X. so the two electrodes that are
connected you would do one here one here, and then the other channel will be
crossing it because the main pain is in the middle. if you just have the two
connecting here and the two connecting here, you’re not going to get
much of that electrical simulation in there. so a tens which is the
transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the surface nerves. and so
basically it goes in it follows the nerve pathway. that is the the same as
the pain pathway, that vibration and pain go together and that kind of cancelled
it out. but it also helps increase the circulation to the area so it helps the
healing process. so when you’re doing that I’m gonna start off with the four
electrodes, the two channels, just to kind of give you the the more general, I’m my
whole shoulders kind of hurting or for me like when I had my labral surgery, I
kind of did the big general one cuz I was pretty achey afterwards, but the
great part was I only had to take pain medication for about the first day and
then afterwards I just used my tens and ice, and I did really well with that. so
it’s a great way kind of an alternative just to taking pain medication. and so
it’s a little safer, a little healthier, but make sure you asked your healthcare
provider because for some injuries or if you have certain things going on, you
might not should use it. you know especially pacemakers and things like
that. so make sure that you’re clear by your doctor, your physical therapist to
use it. so starting off I’m going to kind of bring up one channel that has the two
electrodes. so this is channel one and so for me let’s say it’s hurting here. I’m
going to put channel one in the front, and then one just a little bit in
the back right there. with tens it doesn’t have to be exact. this is really
sometimes something you can just kind of play around with and work with. it’s a
little different sometimes the EMS, you have to be a little more specific on the
muscle that you’re trying to activate, but with the tens, you it doesn’t have to
be right there, it can be a little bit further back and be a little further
forward whatever is comfortable for you. so that’s kind of the great part about
it is you don’t have to be super specific, but when I’m doing it I like
going down the arm just a little bit because a lot of times if you have like
an impingement in your shoulder, referred pain lots of times comes right down here.
people will say hey you know I’m hurting down here, but their injury is actually
here, so making a wider range here really kind of gets that whole shoulder. so then
for the last one I would just put it a little bit higher up. you know maybe
right there. so even though these two are close together that’s okay if you want
to move it a little bit you can, but since they’re on different channels it’s
not that big of a deal as long as they’re not on top of each other they’re
just touching a little bit that’s fine. but again, as you can see this is a
channel, and this is a channel, so they’re crossing each other, and that’s the
biggest part that you want to do. so with the tens you want to make sure that
you’re not getting a muscle contraction, so if I’m getting a muscle contraction
while I’m doing this that means it’s either on too high, or if
you don’t have a lot of tissue like me on my shoulder where I’m very bony, you
might get a contraction just because there’s not a lot of tissue there. so you
might have to move the electrodes. you might have to change the settings just a
little bit. so on here there’s a whole bunch of different settings. I’m just
going to kind of start with the one and the the little icon will move so you
know you’re on that that channel there. what’s cool about the getting the
intensity is you can do it here or on the side. so this one is for the channel
a and this is for the channel B. and so when I start, I can you can already see
that it’s if I move it in a certain position it’s jumping just a little bit
right there. so again that’s, it’s only on a two, so what I might want to do is just
pause it. a little pause button up there. and everything will blink and then just
move it just a little bit to a different spot. and then just go again. so it’s
pretty much sometimes a trial and error, but then once you get the right spot,
it’s pretty good. so if you’re just relaxed and it’s moving just a little
bit, that’s okay. but if you’re getting a big contraction, that’s not what you want
with the tens. so if I take it up and I get something like that where you can
kind of see my whole shoulder is squeezing, moving, that’s not really what
you want for this. that’s something a little bit different. so really just kind of play around with it, try the different settings, some settings
might be a little bit better for you, but with the tens you want it to be
comfortable but strong. you don’t want it to be painful because this is supposed
to help take away the pain, so that’s kind of the point of that. so then if you
let’s say have a really specific pain spot, like again like I was saying that
that biceps tendon. then you can do just two electrodes or one channel. so then
you, once you’re going down to two electrodes, then it makes it just a
little bit stronger in that area, and so again you might have to play around with
it just a little bit, but that doesn’t take very long to do to figure out. so if
I’m hurting right here, most likely what I would do is I would put one maybe a
little bit lower, and then just a little bit higher. maybe right there. so now that
channel is just going to go back and forth right there. so then same kind of
thing, I would just pick whatever mode I wanted, and then just start slowly
bringing it up. so you can see maybe a little bit once it gets going that my
muscle is going just a little bit, but if as long as it’s not contracting it’s
okay to move a little bit, but you don’t want that big huge contraction. so really
just taking it up until you feel like it’s strong but not painful. so for the
EMS, which is the electrical muscle stimulation, that’s when you’re actually
trying to contract a muscle. so it is different. it’s usually a different
current. you’re trying to get the muscle to contract. it’s not just stimulating
the nerves to contract. so let’s say I needed to work on my triceps. I want they
they were weak. I had a little bit of an injury. they’re kind of going up into my
shoulder. I’m cleared to go ahead and start doing contractions of the muscles
and exercises, but I need a little bit of help. so what you want to do is really
just kind of get on that muscle belly. again the closer they are, the more
concentrated it is, so if you want to go down just a little bit lower, sometimes
then that gives you a little more surface area. so on here, you want to look for the ones
that are actually the muscle contractions, and so here it’s 20, and it
has a little human figure kind of holding onto weights, and that just in
the case that is for muscle building. so once you get there, then you can start
taking it up, and you can see that it’s starting to contract those muscles back
there. so for the EMS, I tell people this is the one that it’s not comfortable.
it’s sometimes even slightly painful, and how high should you go? you should go as much as you can tolerate, and then maybe even one after that. so I’m getting a
good contraction here. I really should try and go one more as
long as it’s not just painful. so I’m just like whew that’s nice and strong,
but you can see there you know it makes that muscle contract, contract, and then
as soon as they let’s go you can see my body just kind of relax and let go. I
wouldn’t start off with a lot of time with this. some protocols do ten minutes,
but then you usually do like it’s on for ten seconds and then it’s off for a
minute, so when it’s going continuously like this, I just start off with one or
two minutes because it’s going to really work that muscle, especially if you
haven’t been able to work it in a long time. and you’re gonna feel it fatigue out pretty quickly. so you don’t want to
overdo it, you want to just get that muscle kind of activating again so it
doesn’t forget what it’s supposed to do. so that’s kind of what the EMS does to
help with that electrical stimulation of the muscle. so if you’re interested in
purchasing any of the Healthmate forever tens / EMS units, make sure to click on the link up there, and don’t forget to subscribe by clicking down there. and
remember be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better soon.

28 thoughts on “How to Use a TENS / EMS Unit for Shoulder Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo”

  1. Thank you Dr Jo! I have an older TENS unit and gel pad design. The more recent gel pad creation seems much easier to re position esp. without loss of adhesion. Will be looking for these. TY again!

  2. Hi Doc, Kevin here…golf professional with adhesive capsulitus 👎🏼….does tens help with healing faster? Your opinion greatly appreciated.

  3. Thanks! I’m almost willing to try anything to speed up recovery….doing PT and exercises/stretches…your videos help.

  4. I clicked on your affiliate link and was a bit overwhelmed by the number of options, and crazy price differences. To add even more confusion, the price "markdowns" are all over the board… regular price $239 marked down to $39, etc. Where can I find a good guide to help me make an informed choice? thanks 🙂

  5. Hi doc , its helping me a lot btw wanted to ask you about my shoulder pain . It started while doing dips on chest day , hurts on top of shoulder while trying to flex my traps outside . Been doing tens massage as well but it hurts during the massage , should i stop or go ahead to massage despite the pain

  6. Purchase a Healthmate Forever TENS/EMS Unit here: (affiliate link).
    Want more in-depth info about TENS Units and/or EMS Units, including step-by-step color photos for a wide variety of placements all over the body? Buy my book here:

  7. Heh, I broke my shoulder in 2 places back in August of this year. 2 weeks later, I had to have surgery for it. Eventually, I was sent to PT 3 times a week. I really liked the TENS that first week. Then one of the lady's cranked it too high. For about ten minutes, I sat, almost laughing at myself because my body kept visually contracting. The Tech from the week prior walked by so I asked her if that was supposed to be happening. She said 'No! We want your muscles to relax, not work out.' lol
    I've been going to PT for little over a month. I'm still on passive exercises only. The TENS is one of my favorite parts 🙂

    I just got my own TENS unit in the mail today (Flex-it) and I'm eager to start using it. It looks very confusing but the distributor is going to walk me through everything over the phone tomorrow. I can hardly wait.

  8. Hi there, would a TENS work for bursitis in the shoulder as well? Do you have video explaining the different channels & frequencies and what their for? Thanks

  9. I have a grade 3 AC joint separation with associated tearing of the CC ligaments. What can you say about which setting I should use for healing between EMS and TENS? I'm 4 weeks post-injury and have been icing and using a sling, despite minimal signs of healing and constant pain. Also, is there any other advice you might about the recovery time table?

  10. Do you think this device will help to strengthen my lower back muscles is because five years ago I had a lower back herniated disc surgery and ever since my lower back muscle pulls very easily, injury to my lower back is very easily nowadays

  11. Do you think this would be beneficial for myofascial pain syndrome? Ive been suffering for over 3 years. And I am up to trying new things.

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