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How Do I Use A TENS Unit To Stimulate Lactation?
(April 13th, 2016)
Getting lactation started without the benefit of a recent pregnancy is difficult, in that it requires your actively stimulating and “expressing” your breasts for ten to fifteen minutes each, at least every 3-4 hours, throughout the 24-hour day. This expressing can be either suckling by a partner’s mouth, manual expression with your or your partner’s hands, or pumping with a breast pump. If your work schedule keeps you from finding the time to express your breasts during the day by any of these techniques, your breasts will be slower in responding and it will require a longer time to lactate.
A fourth method of breast expression is the use of a TENS Unit, which stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (which basically means the unit stimulates your breast and nipple nerves through the skin of your breasts). It is a medical device that produces a very low electrical micro-current that flows from one electrode (pad) of each channel on the TENS unit to the other electrode of the same channel. Some TENS Units have only two electrodes (single channel) while others may have four electrodes (two pairs – two channels) or three or four channels. Two channels would be a better choice because it could be applied to both breasts and used simultaneously. These electrodes are placed a small distance apart on your breast areola. The TENS unit relies on the surface of your skin as the conductor of that electrical current, to complete a tiny circuit. You often cannot feel that electrical current… you can only feel your nerves reacting to it.
The original purpose of using the TENS Unit is to stimulate the nerves in your body to “hide” pain such as lower back pain, etc. In this case, it is used to stimulate the nerves of your breast... mostly nerves in your nipple area, which promote the release of prolactin by your Pituitary Gland (in your brain). That induces growth and development of acini tissues in your breasts and leads to lactation.
Everyone should be concerned about the effects that any electrical device has on their heart. If you are wearing a pacemaker, you should not use a TENS Unit without discussing it with your doctor first. The following is what Dr. Jim Bowman says about the safe use of a TENS Unit on your breasts:
“ The amperage of the current is what is critical in triggering heart arrhythmias. TENS units have an extremely small micro amperage current and it would be very unlikely for one to trigger an arrhythmia. Some of them can run for a week on a watch battery. TENS units generate a high frequency alternating waveform. It tends to be very non-penetrating, running superficially in the skin and it disperses in the tissues rapidly. It is quite effective in triggering nerve endings. Depolarizing the heart would not be very likely with this high frequency. Defibrillators use either a direct current or a low frequency alternating sine wave current. They are of course, very effective at depolarizing the heart. If you have an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator do not use a TENS unit in this fashion. Each channel of a TENS unit connects to two pads. The current travels between these pads. It would be best to use 2 pads (one channel) on each breast rather than having one pad on each breast with the current traveling through the chest between the breasts. Using two channels should be very safe. “ (personal communication with Dr. Bowman)
The idea is for the pads to be attached to your breasts before you get dressed. They can be used inside your bra (if you wear one) or simply worn under your outer clothing. The control unit can slip into your bra between your breasts, hang from a cord around your neck, clip to your belt or slip into your pocket. It makes no vibrations or noise, and can be running while you are working at your desk, in a board meeting, or having lunch with your friends. You merely turn it on when you want it to function and turn it off when you are finished with it.
The intent of using this unit is not to replace your partner’s oral expression or your manual expression of your breasts, or your pumping, but to substitute in their place when you are not able to take time away from work to suckle, express or pump. More than that, however, it can also be used all day long if you are not able to suckle, express or pump, for about fifteen minutes every two hours.
When you place the TENS Unit on your breasts, use the two wires from one channel of the TENS unit on one breast. The electrodes (pads) will be marked in some way, indicating that one electrode is a "+" electrode and the other is a "-" electrode. Do not intermix the channel wires… be certain that both wires from each channel go to a single breast. Place the “+” and the “-“ electrodes of the second channel on your other breast. Examine the image below of a lovely client that offered her image as a demonstration photo. Notice there are two channels, each channel having a “+” pad and a “-“ pad.
Note from Bob Johnson of MedFaxx: The electrode placement is basically lateral to both sides of nipples about 3 inches out. Use electrodes approximately 2 x 2, or 2" Round. If nursing has produced tenderness then use product such as Skin Prep on areas electrodes to be applied. The product provides an electrical conductive shield so the skin is not irritated.
The pads on the ends of each wire should be placed one on each side of each nipple, about one inch from your nipple. Looking in the mirror, the four pads and your two nipples should all be lined up in a single row:
(+ Pad) __ (L. nipple) __(- Pad) __ Cleavage __ (- Pad) __ (R. nipple) __(+ Pad).
The image above shows what this is like.
Your TENS unit may have several settings that you can adjust. Some suggestions might be:
1. Wave Form: Choose the one that indicates it is for massaging.
2. Amplitude: This basically means the volume or the current. Adjust it to a low setting. It should give you a pleasant "tingling" in your nipples or areolae.
3. Pulse Width: This basically means how long each pulse lasts. Considering the 'pulse' of a baby's suction is possibly half a second, I would try the longest pulse, or 250 us.
4. Frequency: This should be the same as a baby that is sucking. I would set it at about 70.
Turn on the TENS Unit for ten to fifteen minutes every two hours. Any more time than that will not produce any more prolactin and prove to be ineffective.
You do need to continue the oral or manual expressing or pumping of your breasts whenever you can. Use the TENS unit only when you are not able to suckle, manually express, or pump. Once you start producing milk, the TENS will make your milk run and wet your blouse. If you can catch your milk that is produced you can use the TENS to stimulate your breasts if you want to. However, remember that if your milk is not removed from your breasts, your body assumes that you do not need the milk and your breasts start to become “weaned”… you will actually work backwards and lose what you have built up.
If you do use a TENS Unit, please consider keeping me informed on your progress. Your experience will be very helpful for others that are waiting to hear your results.
Do not hesitate to contact me either in SNCLIST or here at home if you have any questions.
Ken L. Smith, Breast Health Facilitator for the ACS
Owner and webmaster of www.BreastNotes.com
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The Infrex Plus because:
Is not palliative relief but gets to core of pain problem,
Penetrates far deeper into the body,
Fires more total nerves deeper in the body,
Can use for 15 - 45 treatments and gain relief daily,
Does not require wearing constantly to block pain messages,
Operates off AC adaptor for unlimited power,
Rate is 8,000+ pulses per second and not 150 - 250 as a tens unit is.
Rather than block pain use the Infrex Plus for carryover pain relief. Treat daily, then weekly then monthly for pain only when about to flare up.
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Supplementing Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments With Interferential Electical Stimulation - A Case Report
Several of the major problems with patients having peripheral neuropathy are:
1. Loss of sensation in the feet, calves progressing to legs,
2. Pain as the neuropathy advances,
3. Falling and injury due to the loss of sensation in the feet so no proprioceptive feedback to the brain to adjust balance.
The above 3 are major issues for anyone suffering from peripheral neuropathy. This is information addressing a new method of slowing down the progression, reversing the progression and restoring sensation while eliminating pain for the NP patient. The method is to use interferential stimulation, twice daily for 20 - 45 minutes, in conjunction with or without medications. When used with meds we refer to that as "complementary" therapy simply meaning the use of interferential therapy with meds such as Lyrica or other prescriptions may enhance the patient outcomes by lowering the dosage thus reducing the side effects, or actually enhancing the absorption of the medicinal molecules by isolating the receptors in the neuropathy diseased areas.
Below was done in November, 2014 to associate the use of interferential stimulation, without the use of medications, to determine the physical effects of interferential stimulation to determine surface calf temperatures during treatments.
The patient is an 83 y.o. caucasian woman in good health but for the effects of peripheral neuropathy with the most serious being loss of balance. Little pain is present, full range of motion without any discomfort, but lack of sensory input while trying to ambulate which results in greater potential of falling and injury. The patient has fallen in the past.
The patient extended the right and left legs horizontally, absent any weight bearing to minimize any motor involvement or other conditions that may influence blood circulation.
Protocol used was to measure surface temperatures with a LaserGrip 800 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer. The interferential machine was the Infrex Plus using outputs of 4,000 - 4,125 cycles per second, premodulated for true interferential therapy, over a 20 minute time period. Surface temperatures were taken at specific spots on the calves at time intervals on both calves, treated and untreated. The temperature surface areas were identified by the use of a skin marketing device to insure all temperatures taken were specific to one area. The surface temperatures were taken at 4, 8, 12 and 20 minute intervals. The room ambient temperature remained constant during the pre, and post treatment.
Before treatment began:
Left calf temperature was 82.5 F and the Right calf 82.3 F. Points were identified by use of the marker for measurements again at specific time intervals. For comparison the surface temperature on a 66 y.o. male, not having PN was taken for comparison and the surface temperature left calf was 94.1 and right calf was 94.2 F.
Treatment began with the Infrex Plus stimulator with the electrodes being placed in the arch of the right foot and the other electrode on the back above the waist, right side. Size of electrodes were 2" Round. The Infrex Plus uses a biphasic balanced dual polarity with a net 0 DC effect.
4 Minutes 8 12 20
Right Calf ( Treated) Temperatures: 83.8 85.2 85.2 85.5
Left Calf 82.5 82.8 83 83.2
Immediately after the 20 minute interferential treatments the temperature was taken in the exact places at regular intervals to monitor if any decrease in temperatures post treatment. The results are below.
Right Calf ( Temp was 86 after Stim) 85.2 84.5 84.9 85.2
Discussion: It appears the use of Infrex pre-modulated interferential stimulation therapy will increase the temperature by increasing the blood flow when in a prone setting of the extremity for patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy of the calves and feet. It also appears the contra/opposite calf will experience increased temperature during treatment of the contra extremity. The theory probably being that of Imitation Synkinesis. There appears to be a prolonged temperature increase of minimally 20 minutes following treatments. The results are based upon one session of treatment and the purpose of the session was to see if the use of interferential biphasic pre-modulated stimulation would elevate the temperature of the treated area. It did so in this session.
Over the next 60 days the treatments have been for 45 minutes, twice daily and the patient reports regaining of sensory input, maintaining of ROM, and no pain. The patient started the pain med Lyrica after the initial treatments and is experiencing some adverse side effects. Going forward the patient will soon begin to use the Infrex FRM machine which is a higher frequency device and also a device in which positive and negative polarities can be used for treatments. The Infrex FRM is not a pre-modulated device.
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The American College of Physical Medicine now offers CEU's and Certification in Functional Restoration for health professionals.
The first class in Functional Restoration was held in Chicago on November 8-9, 2014 by Dr. Wayne Cichowitz and myself to begin training for helping patients in regaining full function following athletic injuries, post stroke recovery of motor movements.
The first session also included new protocol techniques using high frequency Infrex FRM ( Functional Restoration Machine) for peripheral neuropathy, spinal stenosis and migraine headache pain relief. Dr. Cichowitz showed the techniques he uses and informed the attendees the new protocols would dramatically alter positive patient outcomes for patients who now suffer with little hope of relief other than pharmacologically.
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What Is An Acupuncture Point Locator & Stimulator?
The acupuncture point locator stimulator is really not an "acupuncture point finder", but because in the health care field that is the generally accepted meaning of acupuncture points that we accept the term. Acupuncture points are specific points on our body defined by a location using anatomical terms, with that term being "cun". To stay specific for each patient that cun measurement is set by the specific distance of the space between joints on the finger. That varies patient to patient but for the acupuncturist there is definity for needle insertion and stimulation.
An acupuncture point locator stimulator is a device that emits a small electrical charge from the device into the body and then measures the specific resistance of the point on the device, generally about the size of a nib on a ball point pen. It reality it's a glorified "ohm meter" that you see used by anyone who works around electricity and needs to know if a wire is electrifed or not and needs to measure if a substance will conduct electricity. When the human body is injured or is in pain there will be many small points that are very resistant or conductive to electricity. It is not hocus pocus but a very well defined spot which can be measured and quantified clinically. The purpose of the point locator is to find those points which correspond to the pain the patient is experiencing and stimulate that point to reduce the pain. The general treatment time is 3-5 minutes on the point and then measure it again and the digital feature of the device will show an increase in resistance or a decrease in conduction.
Once a conductive point is found the device will do at least 1 of the 3 things and the better devices do all 3 to enable the patient/clinician to treat using one hand with the point stimulator.
- A light will flash or become brighter,
- A sound is emitted and once points are found that are more conductive the sound level increases so the clinician will know it's one of the better, more conductive points,
- A digital meter is on the locator to measure and show the readout of the degree of conductivity.
The clinician/patient can move the point of the device around the body and listen/watch/read the level of conduction. When the higher points of conduction are found the patient will actually feel the stimulation. If the point is not very conductive then the patient will not feel any sensation when the device begins stimulation. Over the course of 3-5 minutes the level of sensation is reduced and less sensory sensations as the point of stimulation becomes more resistant. After stimulation in several points the level of pain is gone or significantly reduced.
The point locator stimulator is a very good tool for any patient to have suffering from acute or chronic pain. It is highly desirable for a clinician to use to find the points quickly and accurately to save time rather than search out by feeling the patients skin and affected areas. When using a tens machine it helps locate the best tens electrode placements.
For specific technical specifications of an acupuncture point locator stimulator go here.
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MedFaxx Digital Point Locator Stimulator
The areas of the body that should be stimulated for pain relief can be easily identified with a digital point locator/stimulator. The body has points of most conductance to electrical currents and these points are often incorrectly referred to as "acupuncture points" but that is not what they are. These are physical spots on the skin that change their resistance due to injury or pain. The digital readout on the Point Locator Stimulator also allows one to correctly calculate if the stimulation therapy has altered the point located and indicated for stimulation.
Physically when a patient locates a point of less resistance, ie. conversely more conductance, by watching the digital readout and by the audible sounds from the machine, that is indicative of where to press the top button and stimulate that point. The patient literally feels the stimulation at that point versus not feeling it at all if not on a point. This identification process is crucial for correct pain stimulation as well as for rehabilitation following injuries such as acl or mcl repair surgery using the Infrex FRM. As the short stimulation period ( usually 30 seconds ) is done the underlying point becomes more resistant which is measurable using the device. The sensory input from the stimulation is felt generally throughout the areas of pain. After identifying numerous points, stimulating, then the pain subsides.
Point locator/stimulation is also used to define areas to place tens electrodes for maximal relief. The medfaxx acupuncture type digital point locator stimulator can be operated with one hand so a patient can self treat without assistance or supervision. For product information.
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Cancer Cell Wall Membrane Polarity
Throughout human life the immune system is able to identify and attack aberrant cells which if not contained become cancerous. The method of attack is to use free radicals, free electrons with a negative charge, and they are attracted to the aberrant cells which have a positive outer cell membrane charge. The free radicals are capable of destroying the cancer cells and arrest any further development of new cancer cells. It's not the process of a few cancer cells that are lethal to humans but it's the process of uncontrolled replication, use of available nutrients obtained via the blood supply and the removal of waste from the rapid growing cancer cells. By checking the growth the process we know as cancer is prevented and that is the normal course of life for most people.
For reasons still unknown it appears the aberrant cells evolve into new cells that the immune system can not find and attack. The mechanism of doing this is a reversal of polarity on the outer cell wall membrane from a positive potential to a negative potential. In physics we know that like charges repel and unlike charges attract. The simple analogy is putting two bar magnets together and if opposite ends they attract and bind, if same ends (north pole/north pole) then they repel or push away. The electromagnetic forces of the negative and positive polarities of the end of the bar magnet determine the course of action. Over time possibly through evolution of survival by pre-cancerous cells the change of polarity from positive to negative prevents the immune system from attacking and destroying thus cells become cancerous and death and disease result.
It seems reasonable that if one can use external electrical devices of specific polarities and strengths then some of these cells can be repulsed or removed from the body by physical stimulation using electrotherapy. The dosage and duration of the treatments has not been determined or tried to the author's knowledge but from a quantum physics angle of the use of polarities it would appear any cell resistances can be overcome by an external device.
Cancer is too devastating to not be investigating all potential therapies, including physical ones.
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MedFaxx Customer Service For Tens Electrode Skin Care
In helping the electrode to adhere, first of all, clean and dry your skin using regular soap and water, but do not use alcohol. Alcohol will dry your skin and may increase irritation with the use of electrodes. After removing the electrode, you may use aloe vera gel or a tens lotion on your skin to help with sensitivity. Also, clean the electrode upon removal with a moist wash cloth to remove skin debris, hair, oils, etc. that will stick to the pad. If the pad feels “mushy” it has absorbed moisture from your body, and after cleaning, let it dry some before storing in the plastic pouch (this happens frequently in hot, humid weather). This over-saturation will cause the electrode to come apart. If it gets too dry and not tacky, rub a couple drops of water on the pad. (Don’t put it under the faucet!)
Using any gel or lotion before putting the electrode on will only reduce its adherence, thus you would feel like you would need tape, etc. There is a pre-tens skin prep which Bob mentioned in his email. If you do encounter skin sensitivity, avoid placing electrodes in the same place until the skin heals. There are also “skin sensitive” electrodes available with a “blue gel”, however our patients say they do help and others say they don’t stick well, and still others say they are not skin sensitive. There are so many variables with each person that it seems to be “trial and error” in many instances. There is not one that’s perfect for everyone because of differences in everyone’s skin and body.
For conductivity and adherence, the best thing you can do is to keep the electrode clean, keep yourself well-hydrated, and place the pads over a fleshy part of the body. Never put the electrode over bone, i.e., knee cap, spine, etc. If you’d like to discuss, please feel free to give me a call. Would be glad to speak with you.
Phone 919-570-0350, Toll Free 1-800-937-3993