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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Electronic Nerve Stimulator: What It Is, How It Works, and the Benefits

iTENS small wing kit with descriptive features

An electronic nerve stimulator is a device that can alleviate a variety of painful conditions through mild electrical stimulation. It works by blocking pain signals sent to the brain, providing relief to the user. Additionally, it can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers that the body produces. One of its major benefits is that it is non-invasive. It is also a drug-free solution, making it a safe option for those seeking pain relief.

Living with acute pain or chronic pain can significantly impact daily life. This has an impact on the overall well-being. Pain medications may not always be effective or may have potential side effects. As a result, the popularity of electric nerve stimulators has increased as an alternative to pain relief. This article aims to provide information about electric nerve stimulators, including their working mechanism and the benefits they offer.

What is an Electronic Nerve Stimulator?

An electronic nerve stimulator is a device that can provide relief from acute pain or chronic pain conditions. It consists of a small power generator and adhesive electrode pads. The units send electrical impulses to the body for therapeutic purposes. It is typically battery-operated and portable, which users can apply to themselves. Hence, it does not need professional supervision to use the device.

These machines have adjustable settings to control the rate, duration, and intensity of the pulses. This aids individuals in determining the appropriate level of electrical stimulation for their requirements. Moreover, many come with pre-set modes for convenient and effective use. This allows 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, which has a handheld push-button controller and wired electrode pads. The second one is wireless, which often comes with a compact generator and pads directly attached to it. It can be operated manually or through a wireless controller or smartphone through a Bluetooth connection.

Types of Devices

  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): it is a non-invasive electronic device utilising low-frequency units to excite the underlying nerves. It is suitable for common acute and chronic pain in adults.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS): device implanted along the spinal column. It is recommended for individuals with chronic pain who do not respond to traditional treatments.
  • Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS): similar to TENS but uses needles to deliver electrical currents. This provides deeper penetration to the targeted nerves to treat more severe pain conditions.
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): device implanted in the left chest to stimulate the vagal nerve. It helps treat epilepsy and depression.

A shirtless man holding his nape and lower back

How Does an Electronic Nerve Stimulator Work?

An electronic nerve stimulator provides pain relief by sending electric currents through electrode patches that people place on the skin. These currents elicit two general responses from the body, specifically the central nervous system. The first method is based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. During the treatment, the pain gate mechanism in the spinal cord closes. Hence, it hinders the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

The second method involves stimulating the production of endorphins. These chemicals have similar effects as oral analgesics but without the risks of dependence or harmful side effects. Endorphins bind to opioid receptors and inhibit them from sending pain messages. Moreover, they promote pleasure, reduce stress, and improve moods.

Furthermore, the use of electric nerve stimulators has a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. The electrical pulses or mild vibrations increase blood circulation in the affected area. This helps to decrease inflammation, provide muscle relaxation, and support the faster recovery of damaged tissues and nerve regeneration.

Treatable Conditions

Electric nerve stimulators offer a versatile approach to addressing various types of pain. Acute pain conditions, which arise suddenly, can be effectively targeted using these machines. This may include period pain, post-operative pain, and labour pain. Also, electric nerve stimulators can help manage chronic pain conditions. This may involve ailments like arthritis, fibromyalgia, neck pain, and backaches.

Accordingly, the machine can treat neuropathic pain resulting from nerve damage or dysfunction. Conditions such as sciatica and diabetic neuropathy may achieve relief with TENS. Furthermore, musculoskeletal pain, affecting tendons, ligaments, and bones, is a treatable condition. This may include treating joint pain, osteoarthritis pain, and bursitis.

A person discreetly wearing iTENS on his shin

Benefits of Electronic Nerve Stimulator

An electronic nerve stimulator provides numerous benefits to users. Firstly, it is a non-invasive and drug-free method of pain relief. It helps eliminate or minimise pain sensations or other discomforts without the need for medications. Since it does not involve drugs, people can avoid the associated side effects and the potential of developing a dependency.

Secondly, the device is portable and easy to use. It is more compact and lightweight compared to the electrotherapy machines in pain clinics. This makes it more convenient for individuals to manage their pain on the go, whether at work, during travel, or while engaging in physical activities.

Thirdly, it provides personalised pain relief through customisable programs. The device has adjustable settings, such as intensity, pulse rate or frequency, and pulse width or duration. This allows individuals to control the stimulation based on their comfort level. Lastly, electric nerve stimulators are cost-effective. They minimise the need to go to regular therapy sessions or health professional visits.

Is It Safe?

The use of an electric nerve stimulator is usually safe, but it is important to adhere to safety precautions. Firstly, consult a medical professional to determine if it is a suitable treatment for a particular condition. Secondly, ensure the skin is clean and dry before putting the electrodes. Do not place the pads on open wounds or broken skin.

Thirdly, it is crucial to avoid sensitive areas like the head, eyes, throat, spine, and near varicose veins. The electrical stimulation in these locations may worsen the condition. Following these guidelines will help ensure the safe and effective use of an electric nerve stimulator.


In conclusion, an electronic nerve stimulator is a device that helps relieve pain by sending electrical pulses through electrode patches on the skin. It operates on the Gate Control Theory, blocking pain signals to the brain. It can also stimulate endorphin production, offering natural pain relief. Moreover, it enhances blood circulation, reducing inflammation and supporting tissue recovery. With adjustable settings and various styles, this user-friendly device empowers individuals to manage their pain independently and effectively.

Furthermore, an electric nerve stimulator offers a safe and effective non-invasive solution for pain relief. Its portability, customisation features, and cost-effectiveness make it a practical choice. To use it safely, individuals should consult a medical professional, ensure clean and dry skin, and avoid sensitive areas. With these precautions, users can confidently embrace the benefits of this device for personalised and drug-free pain management, enhancing their quality of life.

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