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Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Digital TENS Machine: Overview and How To Use The Device

A long wing iTENS electrode and refill gel pads

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a form of electrotherapy that provides pain relief for chronic and acute conditions. A digital TENS machine uses electrical stimulation to trigger spinal nerve cells to block pain signals and induce endorphin production. Many people use these devices in their homes for convenient relief. To use TENS, the person must place the electrodes near or on the pain area. Then, they may turn the machine on and adjust the settings to their comfort levels.

Several options for wired and wireless TENS products are available in the market. People may buy them online or in pharmacies. To ensure safety, they may consult a healthcare professional before using one. These professionals can help identify if a TENS unit suits their condition. Professionals may also advise on the regularity, duration, and settings to utilise. This article will present the definition of a TENS device, how it works, and how to use it.

What is a Digital TENS Machine

A digital TENS machine is a device that uses low-voltage electrical currents to relieve aches. Many use these at hospitals and therapy clinics as an alternative pain management method. Typically, TENS devices have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mA. People may buy TENS products online, in pharmacies, or medical supply stores.

Generally, there are two types of TENS units: wired and wireless. Wired units are also known as handheld or traditional TENS machines. Medical professionals often use them for their patients during rehabilitation or physical therapy. Handheld devices use lead cables to connect the controller to the electrode pads. Some allow connection to up to eight electrodes.

Meanwhile, wireless TENS devices are well-known for their convenience. They use Bluetooth technology to control the electrode pads and remove the restrictions of wires. Wireless electrodes come in various shapes and sizes. Furthermore, some even use a smartphone application instead of a separate controller for additional portability and convenience.

Benefits of Using the Device

Many people benefit from using TENS machines for their various conditions. Here are some benefits of using TENS:

  • TENS is an alternative to oral pain medications. It is helpful for those with allergies to them and those who wish to avoid their adverse effects. Side effects of medicines include headaches and stomach bleeding.
  • Some devices are designed for portable and easy use. This makes it simple for individuals to use them at any time and in various places for convenient relief.
  • Using TENS has a massage-like effect that increases blood circulation and relaxes muscle tension.
  • Endorphins produced during TENS therapy improve moods and reduce inflammation.

An elderly woman using TENS while reading

How a Digital TENS Machine Works

A digital TENS machine is an electrotherapy unit that uses electric currents for pain relief. People may adjust the intensity, frequency, and pulse width through their controllers. By doing so, they may customise their experience for effective pain relief. This enables TENS to address different conditions. Furthermore, they may select from the preset modes. These are programs tailored for specific body parts and conditions.

Using high-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the spinal nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This is the mechanism suggested in the Gate Control Theory of Pain. It is ideal for treating acute pain conditions because it takes effect immediately. However, people should also avoid overusing this setting because it may cause the body to develop a tolerance to electrical currents.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation (2-10 Hz) triggers the production of endorphins. These painkilling hormones build up and relieve pain. This process takes longer than using high frequencies. However, its effects last hours after the session. Furthermore, people may use this setting up to four times daily for chronic conditions.

What It Can Treat

TENS therapy is an effective method of pain relief for different types of pain conditions. It eases aches from acute conditions like sports injuries and sudden aches from various body parts. This includes elbow pain, hip pain, and knee pain.

In addition, it provides effective pain relief for many chronic conditions. Many use it for fibromyalgia, which causes widespread musculoskeletal aches, general fatigue, and tenderness. Some people also use it to help ease their migraines, which are pulsating or throbbing headaches that last for days. Moreover, it helps with sciatica, which causes aches in the lower back and legs.

A guide for using the iTENS app

How to Operate a Digital TENS Machine

A digital TENS machine is often used under the supervision of healthcare professionals. Nowadays, people may buy them without prescriptions and use them without medical supervision. However, people may still consult doctors or physical therapists to ensure TENS suits them. Professionals may advise on what settings to use, how long the session should be, and the regularity of the session.

It is best to clean the skin to maintain hygiene and allow the adhesives to stick better. Then, people may apply the electrode pad near or on the origin of the pain. Once they secure the pads, they may turn the machine on. It is recommended to start on low settings to prevent shock or discomfort. Then, they may gradually increase the settings or select a program mode.

Sessions typically last between 20 to 30 minutes or as advised by a professional. Users must turn the machine off once the prescribed time is finished. Otherwise, the machine may cause mild burns or skin irritation. After that, users may remove the electrode pads. Lastly, they may clean the adhesives and store them for future use.

Safety Precautions When Using the Unit

To ensure proper use, individuals can read the instructions from the device manufacturer. This will provide a better understanding of how to use their unit. Generally, it is best to avoid water to prevent accidental shocks while using the electrotherapy machine. Furthermore, users may stay alert during the session. They should not sleep during the TENS therapy.

Proper pad placement is essential to effective treatment. Users should avoid sensitive areas such as the spine, throat, chest, eyes, and mouth. They should place them on muscle areas instead of joints. Lastly, they must not attach the pads on irritated, infected, or broken skin.


Many people use digital TENS machines as an alternative pain management method to pain medications. This is because TENS therapy is non-invasive and allows them to avoid the adverse effects of medication. Using high and low-frequency stimulation, users may treat different types of pain conditions like migrainessciatica, and neck pain. Today, individuals can purchase TENS devices from pharmacies and online stores for convenient relief.

However, it is ideal to consult a healthcare professional before using any electrotherapy devices. This is to ensure that TENS suits their condition and gain advice on how to use the device. Another safety precaution is to observe the proper placement of pads. By keeping them away from sensitive areas, people may avoid adverse effects. Another helpful tip is to use reliable FDA-certified devices. One prospect for a wireless unit is the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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