Australian Registered Medical Device

Same day dispatch

12-month warranty

Professionally endorsed

AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

How Does a TENS Machine Work & the Treatable Conditions

A female news anchor reporting about iTENS

How does a TENS machine work is through electrical pulses. The machine sends these pulses to the body through electrodes. It can trigger the release of endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of the body. Additionally, the machine blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. This helps to relieve acute pain, chronic pain, musculoskeletal pain, and neuropathic pain. Furthermore, the electrical stimulation from the TENS machine can enhance blood circulation, further aiding in pain relief and healing.

Whether it is from health issues or injury, living with pain can significantly impact the quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial to find a pain management solution. Traditionally, people use medications or undergo physical therapy. However, technological advancements have led to the development of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). This article will present the mechanism of action of TENS, including its benefits and treatable conditions.

How Does a TENS Machine Work?

How does a TENS machine works is through various mechanisms. Foremost, the electrical pulses from TENS can prompt the production and release of endorphins. These are the natural painkillers of the body. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that act as natural pain relievers and mood enhancers. Hence, this activity can relieve discomfort and foster a sense of well-being.

Another mechanism through which TENS works is by engaging the pain gate mechanism. The electric currents from TENS can create a sensory overload. This essentially blocks the neural pathways that convey pain messages. Nevertheless, this process can effectively “close the gate” to the transmission of pain signals. This method can result in the reduction of the perception or sensation of discomfort.

Furthermore, the electrical stimulation from the TENS unit promotes enhanced blood circulation in the specified area. This improved circulation facilitates the delivery of vital nutrients and oxygen to the body tissues. This can also aid in the removal of metabolic waste products. The resulting optimisation of tissue perfusion can contribute to pain reduction and support the healing process.

Low and High Frequencies

  • The pulse rate or frequency of the stimulation is adjustable to suit to different needs or preferences. Low-frequency electrical currents (10 Hz and below) cause the nerves to become less sensitive. It is also the ideal setting to trigger the release of endorphins. Furthermore, low vibrations give massaging effects.
  • High-frequency electric nerve stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the sensory nerves to block pain. This has short pulses and intensity, often characterised by strong but comfortable sensations. It is a suitable setting for people with acute pain. It also has an analgesic effect on activity-induced musculoskeletal pain and fatigue and increases mobility.

A person discreetly wearing iTENS on his shin

How Does a TENS Machine Work – Understanding the Benefits of TENS

A TENS machine offers numerous benefits to users. Firstly, it provides targeted pain relief. This allows for localised treatment, addressing specific points without affecting the entire body. Secondly, TENS treatment is non-invasive and drug-free. It does not require injections, surgical procedures, and pharmaceutical substances. Thus, it eliminates the potential adverse effects of these activities.

Thirdly, TENS units are versatile. It can be used to address a wide range of conditions. Fourthly, TENS machines offer customisation options. This allows users to adjust the pulse rate, pulse duration, and the intensity of stimulation. Moreover, TENS therapy is cost-effective. It eliminates the ongoing expenses associated with prescription medications, invasive medical procedures, or frequent visits to healthcare providers.

Furthermore, TENS can be used as an adjunct treatment. Hence, it can complement other therapeutic interventions like physical therapy and exercise. This multi-modal approach enhances the overall pain management strategy, leading to positive outcomes. TENS units are also portable and compact. This allows individuals to use them at home, work, or on the go. Knowing how does a TENS machine work can help users to reap these benefits.

Are There Potential Side Effects?

TENS may lead to potential side effects, including skin irritation. Some individuals might experience redness, itching, or discomfort at the site of application. Healthcare professionals advise patients to monitor their skin closely during and after TENS therapy sessions. They may also advise using hypoallergenic electrode pads.

Additionally, some individuals may experience muscle spasms during electric nerve stimulation. They can happen when the electrical stimulation triggers the muscle to contract too forcefully. Moreover, TENS can interfere with metallic implants, raising the muscle tissue temperature to damaging levels. If side effects persist, it is advisable to seek medical help before they become a major concern.

A muscular man holding his nape and lower back

How Does a TENS Machine Work – The Treatable Conditions

How does a TENS machine work involves managing a variety of conditions. Firstly, the sudden and short-term acute pain. TENS therapy can treat labour pain, menstrual cramps, sports injuries, and tension headaches. Secondly, TENS can address persistent and long-lasting chronic pain. Conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, shoulder, neck, and backaches can lead to chronic discomfort, and TENS serves as a solution.

Thirdly, the device can manage musculoskeletal issues. This includes various conditions that impact muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It encompasses strains, sprains, knee pain, and other musculoskeletal injuries. Fourthly, the unit can address neuropathic pain, which arises from damage to the nerves. This can cause sensations of burning, tingling, or shooting pain.

Muscle pain, including soreness, tension, and overuse injuries, is another area where TENS therapy is beneficial. By delivering electrical pulses to the muscles, TENS can help reduce muscle discomfort and promote relaxation and recovery. Overall, by understanding the broad spectrum of conditions that TENS can address, individuals and health professionals can make informed decisions about the use of TENS.

When to See a Doctor?

If new or worsening discomfort occurs while using a TENS unit, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional. This may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. If persistent or severe skin irritation develops despite proper skin preparation and electrode maintenance, consulting a doctor is advisable. This can help identify potential allergic reactions or other skin-related concerns.

Additionally, any unexpected adverse reactions, such as dizziness, headaches, or unusual sensations, should prompt a visit to a healthcare professional. These reactions may signal an inappropriate response to TENS therapy and require further evaluation.


In conclusion, understanding how does a TENS machine work reveals its benefits for users. By prompting the release of natural painkillers, blocking pain signals, and improving circulation, TENS offers targeted relief without invasive procedures or drugs. Its versatility, customisation options, and cost-effectiveness make it a valuable addition to pain management strategies. As a portable and non-invasive tool, TENS can be conveniently incorporated into daily life. It offers users the opportunity to alleviate discomfort and enhance well-being wherever they go.

TENS machines offer a versatile approach to managing various conditions ranging from acute pain to chronic discomfort and musculoskeletal issues. They effectively alleviate pain associated with labour, menstrual cramps, sports injuries, and tension headaches. Additionally, they provide relief for conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain. However, it is crucial to pay attention to any new or worsening discomfort while using a TENS unit, as well as any unexpected reactions. Individuals interested in wireless TENS devices may check iTENS Australia.

Best Sellers

Shopping Cart
Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
Calculate Shipping

We have detected you are from the United States

We ship to all locations within the United States.
Prices will be automatically converted into USD.

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?


The item you’re adding to your cart doesn’t have any gel pads.

Note: iTENS wings should always be used with a gel pad.