Long-term Use of TENS Pulses

I've done a bit of looking online and couldn't find anything that specifically said it was bad to have extensive use of "TENS" pulses. I'm aware of potential muscle issues resulting from excessive use over a short time span, but I was thinking about potential uses as an alternative to a vibrator or speaker in a phone, to send notifications. My thought was that you could incorporate a small pair of contacts to opposite sides of an armband (which could, for discretion, be worn under a sleeve, even on a short sleeve shirt, which is part of why I liked the idea to begin with, as it should (theoretically) make no noise that could be heard by nearby people. I'm sure you could incorporate it with some more advanced program on a phone that could also relay a message via morse code or anything that could otherwise be done with a small vibrator on a phone or watch, but this would be discrete enough to be... I don't know... Cool. I'd do things just cause they're cool. To accompany it I thought that a watch with a longer wristband could be worn around the thigh, just behind a pocket, so you could then tap that to send signals back a phone, also fairly discretely. That's a bit off-topic though.

Main thing, would there be negative effects I can't seem to find out about online, to the TENS-based armband idea? Anyone?


  • edited June 2016
    So I currently Jerry rigged my icy hot to work on my shoulder/bicep/tricep.

    I ended up pulling a muscle today at the gym and could not for the life of me get a solid connection in this area. So I put a 180 boxing wrap around it to press it against my skin (also to press some hairs down). It has really good connectivity and it's not overly evident through my shirt that it's there. You can kind of see it if you look at just the right angle.

    When I take it off I'll get a photo of the actual device and upload it. Here is a link with what I have so far.


    I added the two other photos with out a wrap
  • A friend of mine has an implant in her back that is basically a TENS unit for pain relief due to a degenerative spinal disorder. She's used it daily for almost four years now. The only problems I'm aware of are battery issues, but I haven't talked to her in months. If she has muscle-related issues from long term use, it might not be apparent due to her condition.

    I did a quick search of medical literature and of the four studies so far, the only reported negative effects for use in a span ranging 1-4 years (depending on study) was skin irritation and transept dermal water loss. Of those, only about 25% of participants reported them. I didn't see much literature overall on long term use.
  • Looks like a good idea then. Battery life could of course be an issue. This certainly would use more than a small vibrator, but... Battery life is an issue for just about any wearable. I think it's better to develop a wearable that works well and figure out a better way to power it later than to just design something around the power sources available now.

    On a side note, looking forward to increased availability of flexible thermoelectric generators. (I imagine a sort of sleeve like device that draws power from heat being radiated from skin, and then can also store enough power for several consecutive pulses, possibly some other things too... A watch for instance...)
  • My dad has had a spinal implant of the tens variety, broken back in the 70s or 80s. He hasnt had any issues muscle wise, but has been upgraded to a spinal fusion setup. Between the fusion and the copper line in his spine his pain is mostly manageable. He has hardcore pharmaceuticals, morphine and stuff. But rarely uses that, he doesnt like how many it takes to get relief. I think the only way this would cause harmful effects would be if you sent too much juice down the line. At full power from his control box, his leg will slightly jiggle. That could probably cause tension and cramping from prolonged high power use.
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