How Does a TENS Machine Work?

When it comes to pain management, you can’t go wrong with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS. When you’re searching for various pain relief options, you will often encounter TENS therapy and machines like the wireless iTENS unit as suggestions along the way. TENS treatment is synonymous with pain relief. But what is TENS exactly, and how does a TENS machine work?

What is TENS

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty parts of how does a TENS machine work, let’s understand first the principle behind Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS is a treatment that uses low voltage electric currents to help relieve pain. The electrical pulses can ease pain in specific body parts like the arms, shoulder, back, neck, legs, and feet by controlling the pain signal transmission to the brain, also known as “pain gating theory.” According to the Gate Control Theory, the spine has a neurological “gate” that blocks or allows pain perception. Closing the “gate” blocks pain signals and prevents them from reaching the brain, negating the pain we’d typically feel. 

How Does a TENS Machine Work: Advantages

The Gate Control Theory correlates to “how does a TENS machine work” and the effects it can have. The TENS machine is a small device connected by wires to two electrodes attached to the skin via a sticky pad. The wires send low electrical currents that stimulate the nerve fibres and deliver signals to the spinal cord, where the “gate” is. The gate will close and temporarily block pain transmission to the brain; thus, we feel reduced pain. TENS is also known to help release endorphins which are natural painkillers in the body. The wireless iTENS unit is an excellent alternative to traditional TENS therapy as it removes the burden of wires.  

How does a TENS machine work, and does it have side effects? Using the TENS machine is virtually safe as it is drug-free and non-invasive. Some TENS machine comes battery-operated, and some are wireless and rechargeable like iTENS. To use the TENS unit, place the sticky gel pad on the skin near or around the area of pain. Turn on the device and set the intensity you want. Upon turning on the device, you will feel a tingling sensation. The sensation will slightly drop after a few minutes; when that happens, turn the device’s intensity up gradually as tolerated. 

iTENS Wireless TENS Machine

How does a TENS machine work wirelessly? A wireless TENS machine like iTENS works in the same way as a standard TENS unit but without the hassle of wires. Instead, the electrode pads are on a small circular disc in the centre. The disc is controllable via Bluetooth and is compatible with most iOS, Andriod and Google smartphones. The settings are also adjustable in the phone, making it convenient and easy to use.

Related Articles: