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Digital Nerve Massage Machine – Definition and How To Use

A large wing iTENS electrode

A digital nerve massage machine provides many people with drug-free and temporary relief from aches. It is also known as a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine. It is easy to use for effective pain relief. After attaching the electrodes near or on the pain area, the user must switch on the unit and adjust the settings for optimal relief. However, getting medical advice from a health professional is ideal as they can assess if TENS therapy suits an individual.

Furthermore, TENS therapy is suitable for relieving pain for many chronic and acute conditions. It is effective for joint pain and sports injuries. Moreover, it is effective for conditions like fibromyalgia and sciatica. These devices come in wired or wireless options, available in pharmacies and online. This article will present the definition of a TENS machine, how to use one, and its safety guidelines.

What is a Digital Nerve Massage Machine

A digital nerve massage machine uses externally applied electrode pads to deliver electrical stimulation. It provides targeted pain relief by attaching the electrodes near or to the pain area. TENS units typically have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mAmp. These settings are adjusted using controllers to provide optimal pain relief.

Moreover, people may find wired and wireless options for TENS devices. Handheld TENS units use electrode wires to connect the controller to the pads. These are typically found in hospitals and therapy clinics. Meanwhile, wireless TENS devices use Bluetooth to control the electrode pads. Some may find these more comfortable for home use because they have rechargeable batteries and remove the restriction from wires.

TENS units are available in online stores and pharmacies without medical prescriptions. Additionally, there is a wide selection of electrodes. They come in many shapes and sizes to target different body parts and conditions. It is crucial to get FDA-cleared devices for assured quality and reliability.


There are many benefits to using TENS machines. Here are some of them:

  • TENS therapy allows individuals to reduce or replace their intake of medicines. This prevents them from experiencing adverse effects like headaches, nausea, and heartburn.
  • It is convenient and portable for people to use in various settings at any time of day.
  • TENS relaxes the muscles and increases blood circulation to the area.
  • Endorphins from TENS stimulation reduce inflammation, increase mobility, and improve moods.
  • TENS may reduce the pain intensity of some conditions over time.
  • TENS is a drug-free pain relief device that is not addictive.

A person attaching a large iTENS electrode on a person's lower back

How to Use a Digital Nerve Massage Machine

Digital nerve massage machines are easy to use for effective pain relief. Most devices offer guidelines from the device manufacturer that provide instructions for using it. These are the general steps to using a TENS machine for treatment.

To start, clean the skin with soap and water and dry it down. This removes excess body oils and prolongs the use of the adhesive electrodes. Next, attach the pads near or on the pain origin. Users may use up to eight pads, depending on the device. After, the user may switch the device on and start the session. Ideally, they will begin on the lowest settings and gradually increase the power. This reduces the likelihood of shock and discomfort.

They may continue increasing the frequency and intensity until the optimal level is reached. Alternatively, they may select a pre-set treatment mode tailored for specific body parts. Generally, TENS sessions last between 20 to 60 minutes. After the time elapses, turn the device off. Lastly, carefully remove the adhesives and store them in a cool and dry place.

How it Works

TENS machines use high and low-frequency stimulation to address chronic and acute pain. High-frequency TENS currents (50-120 Hz) trigger spinal nerve fibres to block pain signals from reaching the brain. It is the mechanism described in the Gate Control Theory of Pain. This level is suitable for acute pain and may take effect within 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation is used more often for chronic pain. It triggers the production of endogenous opioids. These are painkilling hormones that build up and relieve pain. It takes about 40 minutes for this process to alleviate pain. However, the effect lasts hours after the session.

An elderly woman with an iTENS electrode attached to her wrist

Safety Guidelines When Using a Digital Nerve Massage Machine

Digital nerve massage machines are safe for many people when properly used. However, consulting a healthcare professional is vital to ensure the safety of the individual. Some conditions may react negatively to electrical impulses. Thus, people must let a medical professional assess their condition and ascertain that TENS therapy is suited for them.

Generally, people with a history of cancer, epilepsy, seizures, and heart disease should avoid using TENS. Moreover, people with electrical and metal implants, such as pacemakers, should abstain from using TENS. Additionally, pregnant women should not use TENS units before labour.

Furthermore, proper electrode placement is necessary to deliver the electrical impulses to the skin. It also ensures the safety of the user. People should not place pads in sensitive areas like the mouth, eyes, throat, chest, and spinal cord. In addition, they should abstain from attaching pads to irritated, infected, or broken skin. Individuals should not use electrotherapy devices while submerged in water. Lastly, do not sleep, drive, or operate heavy machinery during a TENS session.

Potential Side Effects

People should stay alert while using TENS units. This allows them to notice if something has gone awry during the session. Generally, TENS do not cause side effects unless the individual has improperly used the device. For example, skin irritation may occur underneath the pads if the user exceeds the prescribed duration.

Additionally, muscle twitching may occur while using high-frequency stimulation. However, excessive muscle twitching is a cause for concern. Moreover, if the individual is allergic to the adhesives used on the pad, they may develop mild rashes. Lastly, the individual should seek medical advice if they experience worsening pain during or after the session.


A digital nerve massage machine is a helpful alternative to other pain management methods. It is a non-invasive and drug-free way of relieving chronic and acute pain. Moreover, convenient wired and wireless options are available to use anytime and in various settings. With wireless devices, TENS therapy may be as easy as placing the electrode, using it for 20 to 60 minutes, and stopping after the time elapses.

However, people should consult healthcare professionals before using TENS units. Some people have conditions that negatively react to electric stimulation. They should also read the safety guidelines of the device before using it to ensure safety. Furthermore, it is crucial to use quality and FDA-cleared devices. The iTENS from iTENS Australia is an option for a wireless TENS unit. It uses Bluetooth to connect to wing-shaped electrodes for effective alleviation of pain.

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