Healing a Broken Bone: Four Alternatives to TENS Machines and How They Compare

Posted on: 14 September 2015

With pain relieving properties similar to morphine, a TENS machine creates a frequency of vibration, calibrated to encourage healing and block pain signals. However, a TENS machine is not the only vibrating bone healer. There are other options.

If you have a broken bone and are curious about all of the vibratory healing options, take a look at how these alternatives compare to a TENS machine:

1. Massage

The effect of a TENS machine is sometimes compared to the effect of rubbing an area. When the body senses the TENS machine vibrating against its skin, it responds as if it is being rubbed. A touch sensation travels to the brain, and that signal lessens or blocks the pain message from reaching the brain.

Both TENS and massage also boost the body's production of endorphins which can help to facilitate healing. Unfortunately, while massage and TENS share some core qualities, you should not massage the area directly on or around a broken bone.

Directly massaging around broken bones is simply too intense and can hurt the bone. Save massage for the later stages of healing -- then it can boost circulation and restore muscle tone.

2. Purring Cats

A purring cat offers more than just soft, cuddly goodness. With a frequency between 20 and 140 hertz, cat's purrs are ideal for helping with bone healing and regeneration. The concept is the same as with a TENS machine -- you apply the vibration to the broken bone and wait for it to heal. Currently, research supports the theory that a purring cat can speed up the healing of broken bones.

If you have a cat, get close and cuddle after a long day at work; your bones will thank you. Be aware of the downsides of this approach to healing. Unlike a TENS machine, cats aren't portable, and they can walk away whenever they like, making them a cute but rather unreliable alternative to TENS machines.

3. Ultrasound Therapy

Famous for their role in depicting growing fetuses, ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of all sorts of internal issues from tumors to babies. However, these sound waves can also be calibrated in a way that speeds up the bone healing process.

At the right frequency and pulse rate, ultrasound technology speeds up recovery time from broken bones by 40 percent, claims Scottish researchers. The therapy kills bacteria and boosts the production of new bone cells.

While effective, the downside of this option is that it isn't portable or affordable. If you have a bone broken in several places, you can ask your doctor to administer ultrasound therapy at his or her clinic, but with most simple breaks or fractures, it's more convenient and affordable to hire a TENS machine from your local high street pharmacist than it is to explore ultrasound therapy.

4. Whole Body Vibration

The medical community has been exploring the concept of whole body vibration since 1895, and for decades, Russian and American astronauts have used full body vibration to help promote bone density and musculoskeletal strength.

While conclusive proof about the therapy's efficacy remains a mystery, scientists hypothesise that the therapy encourages cell nuclei to trigger the release of osteoblasts, a critical ingredient in bone repair. In contrast, one recent study looked at the effect of whole body vibration in mice, and it discovered that while it helped improve musculoskeletal tissues, it did not help with fracture healing.

In addition to there not being conclusive evidence that it is effective, whole body vibration machines are large and can be hard to find. In most cases, it is easier to access therapy from a TENS machine.

If you have specific questions about different types of TENS machines, contact a company like First Aid Kits Australia.