Last week we talked about treating IC flare-ups at home with a TENS Unit. This device delivers a gentle electronic stimulating pulse to the skin that travels up the leg in order to decrease pain and spasms associated with bladder issues. The TENS unit is non-invasive and works best for ladies who have slimmer ankles because the tibial nerve is closer to the surface of the skin. Ladies who have larger ankles can still use the TENS unit, but we will need to make a small adjustment to how the pulse is delivered.
The TENS Unit, available in a variety of styles, can deliver the electronic stimulating pulse directly to the tibial nerve with the use of a needle. Don’t worry, the needle is very small, just like an acupuncture needle. The end of the needle is connected to a wire that is connected to the device. Once in proper position, sticky pads are applied to help hold the needle in place, and then the device can be turned on. As the intensity is increased the ankle feels tingly, similar to the sensation of hitting your funny bone (except without the pain!). Each woman will be able to control the intensity and duration of the treatment just as with the traditional delivery system.
To do this type of treatment at home, our patients will need to be taught how to find the appropriate placement on the ankle and insert the needle successfully. Some of our patients are more than happy to do this. Others may find they want a family member or spouse to do this for them. In those cases, the family member will need to come in and learn how to assist you with at-home treatment.