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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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How to Use TENS Machines: A Complete Guide

A woman manually operating TENS on her hand

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses electronic devices to send electrical currents for pain relief. Hence, many individuals seek to know how to use TENS machines. Firstly, it is essential to select a TENS electrical device that suits specific needs. Secondly, connect the electrode pads to the central unit. Then, identify the treatment area, prepare it, and place the adhesive electrodes. Lastly, adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program and activate the stimulation.

Living with acute pain or chronic pain can be debilitating. This affects the overall well-being. Traditional pain management may not always provide the desired results or may come with unwanted side effects. Hence, it has led to the rise in the popularity of TENS machines as an alternative to pain relief. However, proper guidance on how to use it is vital. This article will present an understanding of the device, how to use a TENS unit and the safety guidelines.

How to Use TENS Machines – Understanding the Device

Before knowing how to use TENS machines, it is crucial to understand the device. A TENS unit is a device that sends electrical impulses to the body. Accordingly, it is commonly used by medical professionals and pain clinics as part of their medical treatment. Also, individuals who suffer from various types of pain may use TENS machines at home to relieve their symptoms.

When the electrical pulses are delivered to the body, they can stimulate the production of endorphins. These are the natural painkillers of the body. Additionally, TENS can affect the pain gate mechanism. This effectively blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Furthermore, the electrical stimulation can promote blood flow in the treatment region, delivering oxygen and nutrients to body tissues.

TENS units come in two main types: wired and wireless. Wired TENS use lead cables to connect the electrodes to the central unit. Meanwhile, wireless TENS eliminates the need for wires. Nevertheless, users can control the therapy manually or with a smartphone via Bluetooth. These devices are equipped with various features that enhance their effectiveness and convenience.

Advantages Over the Other Treatment Methods

  • Versatile: TENS can be used to manage a wide range of conditions. This may include addressing neuropathic pain, period pain, musculoskeletal pain, knee pain, neck pain, muscle spasms, and tight muscles.
  • Non-invasive and drug-free: they do not require invasive procedures or the use of medication. This minimises the risk of potential side effects or complications.
  • Portable: many TENS machines are lightweight and compact. This allows individuals to use them discreetly and conveniently.
  • Customisable: TENS machines offer adjustable settings that allows users to tailor the frequency, duration, and intensity levels.
  • Cost-effective: they often offer a more affordable alternative to long-term medication or invasive procedures.

A guide on how to simply operate the iTENS application

How to Use TENS Machines?

How to use TENS machines involves several key steps to ensure an effective treatment. Begin by connecting the electrode patches to the central unit using lead cables or a smartphone for wireless. Then, identify the treatment region and prepare it. The next step involves placing the unit pads on the skin. It is crucial to follow the proper pad placement guide in this step.

Once the electrodes are in place, the individual should power on the TENS machine. Most units allow the user to adjust the settings or select a pre-set program for a specific condition. Nevertheless, it is vital to start with the lowest settings and gradually increase them to a comfortable level. As the TENS unit begins delivering electrical signals, it is normal to feel a tingling and buzzing sensation.

The duration of TENS therapy can vary depending on individual needs and recommendations. Typically, sessions may last between 15-30 minutes. Users should adhere to the advisable time frame to ensure safe and effective use. Once the therapy session is complete, turn off the device and carefully remove the electrodes from the skin. Store it properly for future use.

Pad Placement Guide

Proper electrode placement is crucial for effective relief. Firstly, the individual should identify the specific area of the body experiencing discomfort. Secondly, the person should thoroughly clean the treatment area. Hence, remove any oil, lotions, or dirt that may hinder the adhesion of electrode pads. Then, select the appropriate size and shape of pads for the targeted area.

If the pain is along a nerve pathway, vertically position the pads on either side of the painful area. Place the pads on either side of the painful spot for localised pain. Nevertheless, it is important to maintain an adequate distance between the electrode pads.

A person placing TENS on the arm of an elderly woman

How to Use TENS Machines – Safety Guidelines

Aside from knowing how to use TENS machines, it is also crucial to understand the safety guidelines. Before using a TENS unit, individuals should consult with a health professional. This is particularly important for individuals with underlying medical conditions. Accordingly, do not place the TENS electrodes on specific areas. This may include the eyes, head, mouth, throat, chest, and broken skin.

Individuals should adhere to the advisable frequency, intensity, and duration. Avoid starting the therapy with a high setting, as this can cause electrical shocks and discomfort. Also, the users should pay attention to the sensations experienced during TENS therapy. The sensations should be comfortable and tolerable and should not cause further pain or discomfort.

Furthermore, it is essential to keep the TENS machine and its components dry at all times. Exposure to moisture can compromise the functionality of the device and lead to potential hazards. Moreover, do not use the TENS unit while doing safety-sensitive duties like driving or operating machinery. The electric current can diminish focus, leading to accidents or injuries.

Potential Adverse Effects

When using TENS, individuals should be aware of the potential adverse effects. Prolonged or incorrect placement of the electrode pads can lead to skin irritation, redness, or discomfort. This may occur due to the adhesive properties of the pads and excessive stimulation. In some instances, the user may experience involuntary muscle twitching. This can happen if the settings are too high.

Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to the materials used in electrode pads. This leads to allergic reactions, such as itching or rash. Hence, it is important to be mindful of allergic reactions and consider using hypoallergenic electrode pads.

Conclusion

In conclusion, TENS units are a beneficial tool for pain management. Before knowing how to use TENS machines, it is crucial for individuals to understand the device. It is a wired or wireless unit that streams electrical currents to the body. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation operates by triggering the release of endorphins, blocking pain messages, and improving blood flow. Nevertheless, using a TENS machine is easy. One needs to identify the treatment area, place the electrodes, and adjust the settings.

Furthermore, TENS devices offer numerous benefits to users. It is non-invasive, drug-free, portable, customisable, and cost-effective. Also, the unit is versatile, managing conditions like neuropathic pain, period pain, musculoskeletal pain, and tight muscles. However, recognising the proper pad placement is vital in the therapy. Moreover, it is important to know the safety guidelines and the potential adverse effects of TENS for optimal use. TENS is available in stores, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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