The two most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain used by physical therapists are ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Ultrasound works by emitting sound waves from a hand-held wand that penetrates between 1 and 2 inches deep into soft tissue, such as your muscles. These sound waves can increase heat and improve circulation in the region, relax muscles, and heal tissues. TENS units work by applying two pads placed on the skin across a painful area. The small unit emits an electric signal believed to ease discomfort by activating the natural opioid pain-relieving system in the spinal cord.
A research team has found the combination of both therapies have been somewhat successful at reducing the muscle aches and disturbed sleep of fibromyalgia.* However, that is based on using this combination therapy during 12 sessions over a one month period. Each of the treatments was applied for two minutes at each painful tender point (typically averaging 14 per patient), making this approach very time-consuming. Whereas insurance companies may not approve such frequent visits.
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