The personal physician to Roman Emperor Claudius documented something I find weirdly funny: standing on a live electric rays fish at the beach as treatment to alleviate pain. No notable protests and campaigns against stepping over fishes were reported, but evidently, the treatment was effective enough for it to be documented for posterity.
I was waiting for a sunny warm day to hit the beach and go fishing in Sweden to try it. However, considering the time of the year, Lisa, one of the physiotherapist at the Highly Specialized Pain Rehabilitation Clinic, had the great idea to make me test the modern Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS).
How does the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator work?
The device uses electrodes embedded in patches to place on the skin. Once placed on the area of pain, a circuit of electrical impulses that travels along nerve fibres is created. When the current is delivered, less pain is experienced.
What does transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation do?
The delivered electrical current does two things: first, it tricks the brain to prevent the pain signals from reaching the brain. Second, it helps the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers.
What did I feel?
When I tried I mostly felt a pleasant buzzing or tingling sensation.
Team Rehab is now really curious to know what patients with long lasting pain thinks about this device.
Can we really trick their brain into not feeling pain?