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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Nerve Stimulator Machine: How TENS Works to Alleviate Pain

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

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a form of pain relief. It utilises an electronic device that emits electrical currents. It streams the impulses in the body through electrode patches attached to the skin. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation functions based on various analgesic mechanisms. It includes the pain gate mechanism, which blocks pain signals. It also hinges on the Endorphin Release Theory. Additionally, a TENS nerve stimulator machine can boost blood circulation in the targeted area.

Dealing with various types of pain can be debilitating and exhausting. Traditional pain medications and physical therapy may not always provide relief. Thus, it leaves many individuals searching for alternative methods of pain relief. One such option that is becoming increasingly popular is TENS therapy. It is a safe and effective pain relief solution for various medical conditions. This article will present the TENS nerve stimulator device, including how it works and its benefits.

What is a TENS Nerve Stimulator Machine?

A TENS nerve stimulator machine is an electrical device that releases electric currents. It is designed to relieve pain by sending low-voltage pulses to the body through electrode pads placed on the skin. Medical practitioners, pain specialists, and physical therapists often recommend TENS therapy. They use it as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for managing several types of pain conditions.

TENS units come in various forms, ranging from traditional and modern designs. Traditional devices are typically straightforward, with basic settings. They usually use physical cables to connect the electrodes to the central machine. Conversely, modern versions are often more user-friendly, with digital displays, rechargeable batteries, and programmable features. They usually come with wireless capabilities.

When it comes to purchasing a TENS device, there are several options available. They can be bought over the counter at pharmacies, medical supply stores, or online retailers. The prices can vary depending on the features of the device, with more advanced models being pricier. Hence, buyers need to consider their specific needs before making a choice.

History of Nerve Stimulation

  • 2500 BCE: Ancient civilisations used electric fish to treat pain.
  • 18th and 19th Centuries: Scientists and doctors began experimenting with electrical devices for therapeutic purposes.
  • 20th Century: The development of electrotherapy equipment, including early versions of the TENS machine, marked a significant advancement.
  • 1960s and 1970s: The development of modern TENS units began. Researchers and scientists introduced the Gate Control Theory of Pain during this period.
  • Over the following decades, technological advancements made TENS devices more effective, affordable, and accessible. It allowed for portable devices that can be used at home or on the go.

An elderly woman using TENS on her wrist while reading

How a TENS Nerve Stimulator Machine Works

Foremost, the TENS nerve stimulator machine capitalises on the Pain Gate Theory. It is an innovative concept in pain management. It suggests that the electrical signals from the TENS unit can effectively block the transmission of pain messages to the brain. When the machine sends these pulses, it essentially “closes” the gate in the spinal cord, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain.

Accordingly, the TENS device stimulates the production of endorphins. These are the natural pain relievers of the body. These biochemicals are part of the internal pharmacy of the body and have a powerful relief or analgesic effect. It reduces the sensation and promotes a sense of well-being. Nevertheless, the TENS machine helps to naturally soothe discomfort by increasing the release of endorphins.

In addition, the electrical impulses from the TENS unit encourage blood circulation to the targeted area. Improved blood flow facilitates healing by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. Also, it removes waste products from the tissue. It aids in reducing discomfort and promotes tissue repair and recovery. Overall, TENS therapy operates on a multifaceted approach.

Low and High Frequencies

A TENS unit utilises varying frequencies of electrical pulses. Low-frequency or Acupuncture-like TENS operates in the range of 1 to 10 Hz. When the machine emits low-frequency impulses, it primarily stimulates the body to produce endorphins. It is a mode that is particularly effective for managing deep, chronic pain.

On the other hand, high-frequency or Conventional TENS functions in the range of 50 to 120 Hz. It is a mode that operates on the principle of the Pain Gate Theory. The rapid delivery of the impulses can effectively block pain signals. Nevertheless, this method is beneficial for acute pain management.

A person using a wearable and discreet TENS near the ankle

Benefits of Using a TENS Nerve Stimulator Machine

The TENS nerve stimulator machine provides a drug-free, non-invasive therapy. It offers relief without requiring oral medications, injections, incisions, or surgical procedures. Another advantage of TENS units is their ability to provide targeted relief. Users can place the electrode pads directly or near the area of discomfort. It ensures that relief is felt precisely where it is needed, maximising the effectiveness of TENS.

Moreover, TENS therapy is highly customisable. It allows users to adjust the pulse rate, amplitudes, and duration. Nevertheless, this feature ensures that each individual can tailor the therapy to their specific treatment needs. Versatility is another significant benefit of TENS. It can be used to alleviate a wide range of conditions. Thus, it is an invaluable tool for individuals suffering from various ailments.

TENS devices are also portable. It ensures that relief is always within reach, whether at home or while travelling. Furthermore, investing in a TENS machine is a cost-effective decision. It eliminates the ongoing costs associated with medications or frequent therapy sessions. Additionally, the TENS unit serves as an excellent complementary therapy. It can be integrated seamlessly with other treatment methods.

Types of Pain Treated with TENS

TENS therapy provides effective relief for chronic pain conditions. It persists over a long duration. It may include arthritis pain, backaches, and fibromyalgia. Accordingly, TENS can treat sudden and sharp acute pain. It often results from postoperative pain, labour pain, and tension headaches.

Additionally, TENS can manage musculoskeletal pain, which affects bones, ligaments, or tendons. It may involve joint pain, leg pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. TENS can also aid neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage. It may include phantom pain, diabetic neuropathy, and nerve entrapment syndromes. Furthermore, muscular pain due to tension, stress, or overuse benefits from TENS therapy.


In conclusion, a TENS nerve stimulator machine is a valuable tool for managing pain and discomfort. Its history dates back to 2500 BCE and has developed throughout the years. Nevertheless, this electrical device provides relief by sending electrical currents to the body. Consequently, these pulses work in various ways. It blocks the transmission of pain messages to the brain. It also stimulates the production and release of endorphins. Additionally, the impulses can encourage blood circulation.

The TENS unit can stream the electrical currents in varying frequencies. It can dispatch the pulses in low (1 to 10 Hz) and high (50 to 120 Hz) frequencies. Furthermore, TENS presents numerous benefits to users. It is drug-free, non-invasive, customisable, cost-effective, and complementary. Also, TENS therapy is versatile. It can treat fibromyalgia, labour pain, leg pain, diabetic neuropathy, and muscle pain. TENS machines are available in the marketplace, including the reputable online retailer iTENS Australia.

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