TSNS (Transcutaneous Spinal Nerve Stimulators)
TSNS, or transcutaneous spinal nerve stimulator, machines are the latest in electrical stimulation technology that patients with chronic or acute back pain can perform the treatment on themselves at home. Similar in principle to the TENS machine, in which electrical pads are placed on either side of the spinal cord and then electrical impulses are sent through the skin to block pain signals, the TSNS pads are placed directly on the spine in order to stop the pain at its source. While the TSNS machine can not be thought of as a cure, as it only treats the pain and not the reason for the pain, it can provide lasting relief that can last for days.
How do TSNS Machines Work?
TSNS machines work by delivering very strong but short electrical impulses to the body through electrodes that are placed on the skin at the spinal cord – transcutaneous means ‘through the skin.’ The impulses sent are quite strong – ten times stronger than TENS machines available on the market today – but patients will only feel a tingling sensation. This is because the impulses sent are so short that the body doesn’t have time to register and react to them. It is believed that the machines work by blocking the pain signals that are sent from the nerve roots and spinal cord to the brain.
There are said to be three major advantages to using a TSNS machine to manage chronic pain. Because the electrical pads are placed directly on the spinal cord, the machine can effectually fight pain in multiple parts in the body at the same time. An alternative placement is on either side of the neck, which works to fight pain in the head, neck and arms. This therapy can be used in conjunction with other types of therapy, including acupuncture, manipulation, and medications, and may even help other forms of treatment to be more effective. Finally, the latest machines are small enough that not only can patients perform the treatments at home, but they can perform some of their normal tasks at the same time.
Using a TSNS Machine at Home
In some cases, your doctor or health care provider may wish to administer this treatment in his office, but in any case you should discuss the use of a TSNS machine at home with your health care provider before starting treatment. Be sure to follow his advice on the length and frequency of treatments and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The electrode pads should never be placed on skin that is irritated, scratched or broken. Unlike the TENS machine, in which the placement of the pads is not always clear, there are only two placements to remember with a TSNS machine – on the spinal cord at the T1 and T10 vertebrae or on either side of the neck. After the treatment, be sure to wash the area of the skin where the pads were placed with warm, soapy water.