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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Electric Stimulator for Nerve Pain: A Guide on How to Use TENS to Alleviate the Condition

A man holding his lower back due to pain

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief that uses an electric stimulator and electrodes. It can block pain messages from reaching the brain. Also, it can boost endorphin release for further pain control. To use a TENS electric stimulator for nerve pain, start by placing the electrodes on the affected area. Adjust the settings to a comfortable level, then monitor the treatment closely for any changes in pain levels or discomfort.

Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is a type of discomfort or sensation that originates from damage or dysfunction of the nervous system. The pain may present as shooting, stabbing, burning, or tingling sensations. The discomfort makes tasks like walking, standing, and sitting challenging. Therefore, individuals need to seek treatment. This article will provide information about a TENS device for nerve pain, including its mechanism of action and proper usage.

What is a TENS Electric Stimulator for Nerve Pain?

A TENS electric stimulator for nerve pain is a method of pain relief. It utilises a portable electronic device that sends low-voltage electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves. This can help reduce the pain coming from neuropathic conditions. Traditional machines are handheld with wires, while more modern units are wireless with Bluetooth connectivity.

A TENS device is designed to be user-friendly. People wear it discreetly under clothing for long periods. It typically comes with sets of electrode pads that users can place directly on the skin over the painful area. Many individuals find TENS a convenient and effective way to manage their neuropathic pain. They do not need to depend solely on medication or invasive procedures.

People can receive temporary pain relief and other positive effects, such as relaxation, from TENS. Nevertheless, they must remember that it is not a cure for the underlying cause of the pain in adults. Professionals often use it as part of a comprehensive pain management plan that may include physical therapy, medication, and more treatments for pain.

Types of Nerve Pain Conditions

  • Sciatica: Shooting pain from the lower back down through the leg area caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by diabetes, leading to pain, tingling, or numbness, typically in the feet or hands.
  • Radial Nerve Palsy: Weakness or numbness in the arm, hand, or wrist due to damage to the radial nerve.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Dysfunction of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, resulting in pain, tingling, or muscle weakness.

iTENS small wing kit with written features

How a TENS Electric Stimulator for Nerve Pain Works

A TENS electric stimulator for nerve pain works by utilising the Pain Gate Control Theory. This theory suggests that the electrical currents from the TENS electrical device disrupt the transmission of pain signals from reaching the brain. The pulse generator achieves this by employing high-frequency electrical pulses, typically ranging from 50 to 150 Hz. This type of therapy is particularly effective for severe pain or acute pain conditions.

Another mechanism behind TENS therapy is its ability to trigger the release of endorphins. The electronic device accomplishes this by using low-frequency electrical stimulation. This generally ranges from 2 to 5 Hz. Endorphins are natural pain relievers that the body naturally produces. This is particularly beneficial for people dealing with chronic pain conditions, offering a more sustainable solution.

Furthermore, TENS devices can improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and support heal damaged tissues. The electrical stimulation can increase blood flow to the affected area. As a result, it can speed up the healing process. Some people also use TENS machines to help with muscle rehabilitation and re-education by promoting muscle contractions.

Benefits of TENS Treatment

TENS treatment offers several benefits to users. Firstly, it can help manage other types of pain aside from nerve pain. These include musculoskeletal pain, muscle spasms, arthritis pain, and more. Secondly, TENS is non-invasive, meaning it does not require any needles or surgery.

Thirdly, the adjustable pulse amplitude, pulse rate, and pulse duration of the device allow for personalised treatment of pain. Fourthly, TENS is a drug-free method, making it non-addictive and safe. Lastly, the machine is portable, making it convenient to use at home or on the go. Nevertheless, it is essential to consult a medical professional or pain specialist before starting electrotherapy.

A woman using iTENS on her arm and lower back

How to Use a TENS Electric Stimulator for Nerve Pain

The process of using a TENS electric stimulator for nerve pain is straightforward. The key steps involved in this procedure include electrode placement, adjusting settings, and monitoring the treatment. To start, place the electrode patches near the area of pain. Then, activate the TENS unit and adjust the settings as needed. The outcome varies based on the specific condition.

Additionally, begin with a low intensity and gradually increase to a level that feels comfortable. Users should ensure that the tingling sensations from the electrical device are adequately intense yet free from any painful sensations. If there is any discomfort, lower the intensity until the sensations are bearable. Furthermore, set the treatment duration for 30 to 45 minutes. After the session, turn the device off and remove the electrode pads.

During use, it is essential to monitor the feedback of the body to the electric current stimulation. Users may adjust the electrical signals until they feel the most effective level of pain relief. Furthermore, following safety guidelines can help mitigate adverse outcomes. People should seek the advice of a healthcare professional, particularly those with significant medical conditions.

Where to Place the Electrodes?

Proper electrode placement is crucial for the effectiveness of TENS therapy. It is essential to clean and dry the skin before applying the pads to prevent skin irritation or allergic reactions. Users can position the pads on either side of the painful area, near the affected nerve, to stimulate them optimally.

Moreover, the electrodes should not overlap. Maintain a one to two inches distance between each pad. Placing them too close may cause a burning sensation due to too much current passing through the narrow area. Meanwhile, if the pads are too far apart, they may not stimulate the nerve endings sufficiently.


A TENS electric stimulator for nerve pain is a portable device that sends low-voltage electrical impulses to nerves, offering relief from neuropathic pain. It works by interrupting pain signals to the brain and triggering the release of natural pain-relieving endorphins. Additionally, it can improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and aid in tissue healing. While not a cure, it is a valuable part of comprehensive pain management plans.

Using a TENS machine involves straightforward steps. Start by placing the electrode pads near the painful area, then adjust the settings to a comfortable level of intensity. Monitor the response of the body during the session. Additionally, proper electrode placement is crucial; keep them clean and dry, positioned near the affected nerve, and spaced apart to avoid discomfort. Always prioritise safety and consult a healthcare professional for guidance, especially for people with underlying medical conditions.

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