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

Machine for Pain: TENS Units for Pain Relief

A female news anchor reporting about TENS as a new faster pain relief solution

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for pain is an electronic device that emits electrical impulses. It streams the currents to the body via electrode patches placed on the skin. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation functions based on two main mechanisms. The Gate Control Theory of Pain and the Endorphin Release Theory. It also employs varying frequencies. Additionally, TENS therapy presents benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, versatile, portable, and customisable.

Various methods of pain relief are available in the market to improve the quality of life. Standard pain management techniques may include physical therapy and pain medicines. However, they may not always be practical or have side effects. Meanwhile, TENS therapy has gained popularity as an effective and safe form of pain relief. It can treat various types of pain. The following sections will present the TENS unit for pain relief therapy, including its mechanisms of action and benefits.

What is a TENS Machine for Pain?

A TENS machine for pain is a small, battery-operated electrical device that sends electrical pulses through the skin to the nerve fibres. People who commonly use TENS units include those suffering from various conditions, athletes, and physically active individuals. Accordingly, pain specialists, medical professionals, and physical therapists often recommend TENS as part of a comprehensive pain management treatment.

TENS devices come in both wired and wireless models. Wired TENS units are connected to electrode pads through lead cables. On the other hand, wireless models provide the same function without the inconvenience of physical wires. It offers more mobility and ease of use. Nevertheless, individuals can control the therapy manually or to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth connectivity.

Furthermore, using the TENS unit is easy. Before attaching the electrode patches, ensure the skin area is clean to avoid skin irritation. Accordingly, place the electrodes following the proper electrode placement. For a wired device, ensure the wires are securely connected to the pads and the machine. For a wireless device, activate the connection as directed. Finally, activate the unit and adjust the settings.

Components of the Device

  • Control Unit: Often compact and lightweight. It houses the controls, allowing users to adjust the pulse rate, amplitude, and duration.
  • Electrode Pads: It is typically made of conductive and flexible materials. These pads adhere to the skin, ensuring optimal contact for the transmission of electrical signals. They are available in various shapes and sizes.
  • Wires (for Wired Units): It connects the electrodes to the control unit. These wires are crucial for the uninterrupted flow of electrical impulses.
  • Power Source: It can be disposable or rechargeable batteries. They ensure the device maintains a consistent output of electrical pulses throughout use.

A small and large wing iTENS, refill gels pads, and necessary information

Mechanisms of Action Behind TENS Machine for Pain

A TENS machine for pain works through a sophisticated combination of mechanisms. The endorphin release is one of the critical effects of using a TENS unit. Precisely, the electrical currents stimulate the production of endorphins. These are the natural pain relievers of the body. Endorphins bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. It mimics the effect of drugs such as morphine but without side effects.

Moreover, the TENS device employs the Pain Gate Control Theory. According to this theory, the nervous system has pain gate mechanisms that can either block or allow pain signals to travel to the brain. The electrical pulses stimulate the non-painful nerve fibres, effectively closing the “gates” to painful inputs. Thus, it interferes with the transmission of pain messages, reducing the sensation of pain intensity.

In addition, TENS therapy promotes blood circulation. The electrical stimulation helps dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow. Enhanced blood circulation aids in the faster removal of pain-inducing substances and promotes healing. It delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area. Nevertheless, it supports tissue repair and reduces inflammation, further contributing to pain relief.

Understanding Low and High Frequencies

A TENS unit uses two kinds of frequencies: low and high. Low-frequency TENS operates at 1 to 10 Hz (Hertz). It primarily targets the natural pain relief process of the body by stimulating the production of endorphins. Nevertheless, this method is similar to traditional acupuncture but without the use of needles. It usually delivers a gentle pulsing or tapping sensation.

On the other hand, high-frequency TENS uses settings above 50 Hz. This method works based on the Pain Gate Theory. It suggests that the pulses can block the pain signals. Users may feel a steady, vibrating sensation that masks the feeling of discomfort.

A person using a wearable and discreet TENS electrode on the thigh area

Benefits of Using TENS Machines for Pain

TENS machines for pain benefit users in various ways. Foremost, the TENS unit provides relief without surgical interventions or breaking the skin. It makes it a safe and straightforward approach to pain management. Secondly, it allows individuals to achieve pain relief without relying on medication. Thus, it eliminates the risk of side effects and dependency associated with oral painkillers.

Thirdly, TENS therapy is designed to be effective for various conditions. It is beneficial for individuals suffering from different pain types. The TENS device is also small and lightweight. It is easy to carry around. It offers users the flexibility to receive pain relief wherever they go. They can use it at home, work, or while travelling. Wireless units also allow users to wear the electrodes discreetly.

Furthermore, TENS treatment is customisable. It includes adjustable pulse duration, frequency, and intensity. Users can tailor the treatment to their specific needs, ensuring optimal relief. Additionally, TENS is a cost-effective solution for long-term pain management compared to ongoing medication costs or the price of surgical interventions.

Types of Pain Treated with TENS

TENS can provide continuous relief for ongoing chronic pain conditions. It may include fibromyalgia, backaches, and arthritis pain. Accordingly, TENS offers immediate relief to sudden and sharp acute pain conditions. It often results from sports injuries, labour pain, and period pain.

Additionally, TENS proves effective in soothing musculoskeletal pain. It deals with pain in the bones, muscles, or tendons. It involves joint pain and osteoarthritis pain. Also, TENS can aid neuropathic pain. It is caused by nerve damage and may include sciatica and diabetic neuropathy. Moreover, TENS can address muscular pain. It may arise from tense or sore muscles.


Overall, a TENS machine for pain is a valuable tool for managing discomfort. It is a wired or wireless device that dispatches electrical currents to the body. It streams the pulses via electrodes placed on the skin. The tool may comprise a control unit, electrodes, wires, and a power source. Furthermore, TENS therapy works by blocking pain messages, triggering endorphin release, and improving blood flow. Also, TENS units send the currents in low (1-10 Hz) or high (50-120 Hz) frequencies.

TENS devices present benefits to users. It provides relief without invasive procedures and medications. Moreover, TENS treatment is customisable and cost-effective. Additionally, most of the TENS units are small and lightweight. With such mechanisms and benefits, TENS therapy can treat various types of pain. It may include arthritis, sports injuries, osteoarthritis, sciatica, and sore muscles. TENS machines are available in the market, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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