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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Electric Stimulator Machine: What It Is, Types, and How It Works

A muscular man holding his nape and lower back

An electric stimulator machine is a tool that helps to relieve pain. It works by blocking pain signals and triggering the release of endorphins in the body. There are different types of electrical stimulator machines. This includes Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Interferential Current Therapy (IFC), and Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). Each type works in a slightly different way. Physical therapists often use these devices in therapy settings to help patients manage pain and improve their overall quality of life.

Many people seek pain relief solutions to manage their symptoms. This often involves oral medications, physical therapy, and home remedies. However, medications may carry the risk of developing side effects, health complications, or tolerance. One of the best alternatives is an electrical stimulator device. This article will provide information about electrical stimulator devices, including their types and mechanisms of action.

What Is an Electric Stimulator Machine?

An electric stimulator machine is a tool that can provide relief from acute pain or chronic pain conditions. It consists of a small power generator and adhesive electrode patches. The stimulator sends electrical impulses to the body for therapeutic purposes. It is typically battery-operated and portable, which users can apply to themselves.

These electronic devices typically have adjustable settings to control the pulse rate, width, and amplitude. This aids individuals in modifying the treatment to an appropriate level of electrical stimulation for their requirements. Moreover, modern electrical devices come with pre-set modes for convenient and effective use. These are options that enable users to select a program for a specific treatment without having to adjust the settings manually.

Furthermore, they come in different styles and forms. A common variant is the standard, with a handheld push-button controller and wired electrode pads. Meanwhile, other devices can be wireless, often with a compact generator and pads directly attached to them. It can be operated manually or through a wireless controller or smartphone through Bluetooth connection.

Importance in Pain Management

  • Some electric nerve stimulation is non-invasive, ensuring a safe pain relief option.
  • It allows precise targeting of specific pain areas, tailoring treatment to individual needs.
  • It can be used for various types of pain conditions. These include muscular pain, musculoskeletal pain, or neuropathic pain.
  • Nerve stimulator offers an alternative to medications, reducing the reliance on painkillers and their potential side effects.
  • Some nerve stimulators help alleviate muscle stiffness, promoting flexibility and enhancing overall movement.
  • The electrical device is portable and user-friendly. Hence, users can easily access the therapy at home or on the go.
  • People can use nerve stimulators in conjunction with other treatments.

iTENS small wing kit with written features

Types of Electric Stimulator Machines

Several types of electric stimulator machines can help individuals with various conditions. Firstly, TENS units are ideal for people seeking convenient and versatile pain relief. They are small, battery-operated devices that use externally applied electrode pads. They also have adjustable settings and features, such as pre-set modes, which can enhance the experience of using TENS.

Secondly, IFC machines are another non-invasive option for people experiencing aches from injuries and chronic pain conditions. These use higher frequencies than TENS to penetrate the tissues and use electrical pulses to stimulate the muscles. Hence, these sessions are also shorter in comparison. This therapy focuses more on helping with the rehabilitation of injuries.

Lastly, SCS are implanted devices that deliver electrical stimulation directly to the spinal column. It has three components: a pulse generator, lead wires, and a remote control. However, an individual must undergo several medical assessments and a trial period before they can undergo surgery. Moreover, there are higher risks due to the invasive nature of surgery.

A Closer Look at TENS

TENS therapy is an increasingly popular pain management option. It uses electrical stimulation to reduce pain perception and is often used alongside other treatments. It is drug-free and can help reduce reliance on pain medications. People can buy this user-friendly unit online or at pharmacies without a prescription, making it convenient for relief.

Moreover, TENS units offer many features and programs to address specific body areas and medical conditions. Users can customise the frequency and intensity settings, ranging from 0 to 150 Hz and 0 to 80 mA, respectively. Furthermore, TENS units are available in wired or wireless forms, providing options.

Step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app

How Do Electric Stimulator Machines Work?

An electric stimulator machine works by sending electrical currents. Hence, it can trigger various mechanisms for alleviating pain in adults. In particular, TENS machines allow users to customise their treatment by altering the frequency and intensity levels according to their comfort level. The electrode patches send the electric currents to the skin and into the sensory nerves.

High frequencies can trigger the spinal nerve cells to block pain messages from reaching the brain. This process is called the pain gate mechanism, which was proposed in the Gate Control Theory of Pain. Moreover, it can induce vasodilation, increasing blood circulation to the target area. Consequently, this helps in healing injuries since new blood brings nutrients and oxygen crucial to the process.

Meanwhile, low frequencies trigger the production of endogenous opioids. These are natural pain relievers that bind to opioid receptors, resulting in an overall reduction of pain intensity. In addition, endorphins can also reduce stress and improve moods, promoting a sense of well-being. It can also help with reducing inflammation.

Frequencies and Intensities

Frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), signifies the rate at which an electrical nerve stimulator delivers pulses to the nerves. Physical therapists recommend lower frequencies for chronic pain and higher frequencies for acute pain. This adjustment directly impacts how nerves respond to stimulation, ultimately determining the effectiveness of the treatment.

Meanwhile, intensity pertains to the strength of the electrical pulses. It is a measure of the force with which the electrical current affects the nerve cells. Too low intensity may not produce the desired therapeutic effect, while excessively high intensities may lead to discomfort. Finding the optimal balance of intensity is crucial for effective treatment.


In conclusion, electric stimulator machines offer diverse options for managing pain and aiding rehabilitation. TENS units provide convenient relief with adjustable settings and pre-set modes. IFC machines target deeper tissues for quicker sessions, ideal for injury recovery. Meanwhile, SCS devices offer direct spinal stimulation for chronic conditions, albeit requiring surgery and careful evaluation. These machines cater to varying needs, providing effective solutions for individuals seeking pain relief and improved physical function.

Generally, electrical stimulator machines work by sending electrical currents to alleviate pain in adults. High frequencies block pain messages from reaching the brain. Meanwhile, low frequencies trigger the production of natural pain relievers. Adjusting the frequency and intensity levels allows users to customise their treatment. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using an electrical stimulator machine to ensure proper usage and safety. Those interested in a wireless TENS machine may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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