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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Back Pain Machine: A Guide on How to Use a TENS Unit to Relieve Backaches

A person holding their lower back due to pain

Dealing with backaches can be a debilitating experience. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for back pain. It is a battery-operated device that emits electrical pulses. It works in various ways to provide pain relief. Nevertheless, using a TENS electrical device is straightforward. Ensure the skin in the back where to place the adhesive electrodes is clean and dry. Apply the pads accordingly. Then, turn on the TENS unit and customise the settings.

Back pain is a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It impacts daily tasks and the overall quality of life. Traditional methods of pain relief may include exercises and pain medications. However, they may not always provide adequate relief, or they may come with adverse side effects. Meanwhile, TENS therapy is gaining popularity as a safe and effective solution. This article will present the TENS unit for backaches, including how it works and how to use it.

What is a TENS Machine for Back Pain?

Backache results from strained muscles, ligaments, or disruptions in the spinal structure of the body. It often leads to discomfort and impaired movement. Fortunately, a TENS machine for back pain can provide adequate relief. It is a portable device that delivers electrical currents to the body. It sends electrical impulses through electrodes attached to the skin, particularly in the back.

TENS therapy is widely recognised and recommended by healthcare professionals, pain specialists, physical therapists, and chiropractors. They suggest the treatment, especially for patients seeking non-invasive pain relief solutions. Nevertheless, both individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions and those experiencing acute pain episodes in the back find TENS devices valuable for pain management.

Furthermore, TENS units come in wired and wireless models. Different types cater to the preferences and lifestyles of different users. The wired versions are typically connected to electrodes via physical cables. Meanwhile, wireless models offer greater freedom of movement and convenience. They do not require a direct connection to the device. Both models provide a variety of functionalities.

Causes of Backaches

  • Ligament or Muscle Strain: Lifting heavy objects or awkward movements can lead to muscle spasms in the back.
  • Disc Issues: The disc in the spine, which acts as a cushion, can suffer from problems such as bulging or rupture.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that results from the wear and tear of cartilage in the joints. It affects the lower back.
  • Osteoporosis: It is a condition that weakens the bones. It makes them porous and susceptible to fractures.
  • Poor Posture: Bad posture can place undue stress on the back muscles and spinal structure. It can lead to fatigue and tension in the back.

A small and large wing iTENS and refill gel pads

How a TENS Machine for Back Pain Works

A TENS machine for back pain works by activating the natural mechanisms of the body. Firstly, the electrical pulses from the device prompt the release of endorphins. Endorphins are often dubbed as the natural painkillers of the body. These substances bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. It mirrors the analgesic effect of pain medications but without the associated risks or side effects.

Secondly, the TENS unit works based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. It suggests that non-painful input closes the “gates” to painful input. It prevents pain sensations from travelling to the central nervous system. The electrical currents interfere with the transmission of pain signals, preventing the brain from perceiving backaches. Thus, it reduces the sensation of pain.

Moreover, TENS therapy enhances blood flow to the targeted area. Increased blood circulation contributes to pain relief by reducing inflammation and encouraging the healing of tissues. Well-oxygenated blood carries essential nutrients to back muscles. It facilitates the repair of damaged cells and easing muscle tension.

Benefits of TENS Treatment

The TENS device provides focused relief to the specific area of discomfort in the back. It ensures that the electrical impulses directly reach the affected nerve fibres. Another significant benefit of TENS therapy is its natural approach to pain relief. Unlike pharmaceutical options, TENS does not introduce chemicals into the body. It reduces the risk of side effects and dependency.

Also, TENS units come with various settings that users can adjust. These include the pulse rate, amplitudes, and duration. Additionally, modern TENS devices are compact and lightweight. It ensures that individuals can use their medical devices at home or while travelling.

A person placing TENS electrode on the back of another person

How to Use a TENS Machine for Back Pain

Using a TENS machine for back pain involves straightforward steps. First, thoroughly clean the skin where the electrode pads will be placed. Next, connect the electrodes to the central machine using lead cables or a smartphone via Bluetooth. Then, attach the electrode pads, adhering to the proper electrode placement. Turn on the TENS unit accordingly and adjust the settings.

Start at a low setting. Gradually increase the intensity until a solid but comfortable tingling or buzzing sensation occurs. It is crucial that the intensity does not cause discomfort or muscle twitching. The user adjusts the machine to deliver therapeutic impulses without being overwhelming. Subsequently, set the duration of the treatment session, usually between 15 to 30 minutes.

Individuals can relax during the duration or continue their daily activities. After the session, turn off the TENS unit before removing the electrode pads. Clean the skin where the pads were attached. Store the device according to the guidelines of the manufacturer. It is advised to keep a record of the settings that provide the most relief and any observations on the effectiveness of different placements.

Electrode Placement Guide

Start by identifying the specific area of the back that requires attention. Place two or four electrodes on either side of the spine for generalised lower backache. The arrangement can be in a vertical line or a square pattern. Alternatively, position the pads around the affected area to target upper backache. Careful positioning around these regions maximises the therapeutic effects of TENS.

Additionally, maintain a distance between the pads to ensure a balanced delivery of electrical currents. Do not place the electrodes directly on the spine and areas with broken skin. It is also worth noting the importance of skin care before electrode placement.


In conclusion, muscle strain, disc issues, arthritis, osteoporosis, and poor posture are the common causes of backaches. Fortunately, a TENS machine for back pain can be a valuable tool to manage discomfort. It is a battery-powered device that sends electrical currents to the body. It streams the pulses via electrodes placed on the skin. Accordingly, it works based on various mechanisms, including the Pain Gate Theory and Endorphin Release Theory. It also enhances blood circulation in the treatment area.

Furthermore, TENS treatment provides numerous benefits. It is natural, adjustable, compact, lightweight, and can offer targeted relief. Moreover, using the TENS device is straightforward. Foremost, identify the specific area of backache and prepare the skin over it. Next, attach the electrode pads. Typically, it is placed on either side of the spine or the painful area. Then, turn on the TENS unit. Finally, adjust the settings. Individuals can relax during the treatment, or they may continue with their daily routines.

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