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

Neck TENS Massager: Is Electrotherapy Safe?

Woman holding the back of her neck

Many people use a massager to relieve pain in the neck. Massagers come in various forms and styles, one of which is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit. However, since the neck is a sensitive area, many are concerned about the safety of using a neck TENS massager. The machine uses electrical impulses that are mild and gentle. It is generally safe and effective in providing short-term pain relief. Nevertheless, proper pad placement is crucial to ensure safety.

Electrotherapy is the use of electrical stimulation for medical treatment. TENS, in particular, works on the nerves to alleviate pain symptoms. It helps treat various acute and chronic pain conditions. One of the common pain areas that many experience is the neck. It can be due to poor posture, repetitive motion, or prolonged inactivity. This article will explore what TENS is, how it can help with neck pain and guidance on proper electrode placement.

What is a Neck TENS Massager?

A neck TENS massager is a type of electrotherapy device that uses electrical impulses to stimulate the neck and shoulder area. TENS is a common technique in physical therapy and pain management to help people with chronic and acute pain. However, the pulses from the TENS machine can also be programmed to deliver therapeutic patterns similar to manual massage therapy.

The machine consists of a small, handheld unit and adhesive electrodes that deliver low-voltage electrical currents to the skin. In some modern devices, TENS features wireless electrodes that are controllable through a smartphone app via Bluetooth. In addition, they include several features, such as adjustable pulse rate and intensity and preset modes.

The TENS massager is battery-operated using disposable batteries or built-in rechargeable batteries. This makes the device portable since it does not need a plug-in power source. Thus, individuals can use the machine wherever they go. Moreover, its simple design makes it easy and convenient to use. People with chronic neck pain can reduce their discomfort in the comfort of their own homes.

Other Types of Neck Massagers

  • Manual massager – it is a simple tool that is manually operated, usually in a back-and-forth movement. The cervical traction device can help relax stiff muscles.
  • Electric massager – a device that is powered by electricity. It utilises vibration techniques to stimulate sore muscles. Additionally, it has adjustable speed settings to modify the pulse delivery.
  • Heat massager – it combines vibration and heat therapy in one device. The heat massage can help improve circulation, enhancing the benefits of the therapy.
  • Percussive massager – the device combines rapid pressure and vibration therapy. Typically, it comes in the form of a massage gun and can give a deep tissue massage.

Operating TENS settings through the smartphone app

How a Neck TENS Massager Works

A neck TENS massager functions through the principles of electrical stimulation. The delivery of electrical pulses causes a tingling sensation that stimulates the sensory nerve endings. This causes the pain gate mechanism in the spinal cord to block pain signals to the brain. As a result, it reduces the perception of pain.

The TENS stimulation also triggers the production of endorphins. They are natural chemicals that help suppress pain sensations, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Furthermore, it boosts blood circulation and promotes muscle relaxation. The increase in blood flow also helps nourish the injured tissues and alleviate inflammation. It is important to check the massage modes that a TENS machine provides.

Administering TENS therapy can provide short-term pain relief from muscle tension, sore muscles, and stiff neck. It is also helpful for those who have chronic neck pain conditions like cervical spondylosis or arthritis, pinched nerves, and degenerative disc disease. The effects of TENS can extend to those who have shoulder pain, tension headaches, and migraine headaches.

Low and High Frequencies

TENS machines have adjustable intensity settings and frequency levels to cater to various needs. Low-frequency electrical impulses deliver pulse rates at 2-10 Hz. This creates a gentle massage sensation or acupuncture-like effect that can help treat chronic pain. Some machines with heat functions may have adjustable temperature settings.

High-frequency stimulation utilises pulse rates at 50 Hz and above. It produces a deeper massage sensation and may be more effective for treating acute pain. Individuals may consult with a health professional to help determine the ideal setting. In addition, alternating the currents between high- and low-frequency settings can optimise therapeutic effects.

Two pairs of iTENS small wings

Proper Electrode Placement When Using a Neck TENS Massager

Proper electrode placement is essential when using a neck TENS massager to ensure effective and safe treatment. Individuals may refer to the placement chart that may come with the device or the instruction of a healthcare provider. In general, place the electrodes on either side of the cervical spine. Be careful not to place the electrodes close to the head or on the front and sides of the neck.

Individuals may use two more TENS pads above or beside the shoulder blades. Users may adjust the placement depending on the extent of the neck pain. Additionally, always keep the electrodes at least one inch apart to deliver the flow of the electrical currents to the centre of pain. For joint areas, using small-sized pads can help concentrate the stimulation on the affected area.

It is vital to remember to avoid electrode contact on broken skin, open wounds, and irritated skin. Also, do not put the pads directly over the spine to prevent diminishing the effects of TENS. Before use, clean the treatment area with water and mild soap and pat dry. Following these guidelines ensure a safe and positive experience.

Safety Precautions

The use of TENS devices requires certain safety precautions to prevent unwanted risks or side effects. When starting the treatment, always begin at the lowest intensity and gradually increase it to a more comfortable level. This will allow the neck muscles to adjust and prevent sudden shocks or discomfort.

Moreover, avoid using the massager for an extended period. It is recommended to limit the duration to around 15 to 20 minutes per session and take breaks in between. Overusing the unit may lead to muscle fatigue and potential damage. Lastly, do not use the device while sleeping, driving, or being in water.


The neck TENS massager is one of the effective ways to relieve cervical pain. It is a portable device that is worn on the neck area to stimulate the underlying nerves. This helps block the pain signals from reaching the brain. Furthermore, it triggers the release of endorphins and promotes blood circulation. Therefore, it can help ease the pain naturally and without the need for medicines. However, precise pad placement is vital to ensure safe and effective use.

TENS machines can also be used to treat other areas of the body that are experiencing soreness. It can help manage other chronic conditions that affect the nerves, muscles, and joints, such as sciaticafibromyalgia, and arthritis. When choosing a quality neck massager, it is essential to check the features, such as adjustable intensity levels. Nevertheless, it is advisable to consult with a medical professional to determine its suitability and the best setting for individual needs.

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