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

Pain Therapy Machine: A Complete Guide to Using TENS Devices

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

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS pain therapy machine is an electronic device suitable for various types of pain. It works by delivering electrical pulses to the body. These impulses stimulate the nerve fibres. It is believed to modify the pain messages and prompt the release of endorphins. Nevertheless, knowing how to operate the device is crucial. Prepare the skin in the treatment areas. Next, place the electrode pads. Turn on the unit and adjust the settings.

Pain can be debilitating and have a significant impact on the quality of life. When traditional pain management technique falls short, many people turn to TENS as an alternative method of pain relief. It is widely appreciated for its non-invasive approach. It provides many users with relief without the need for medication or invasive procedures. However, using these devices correctly is crucial. This article will present the TENS pain relief therapy unit, how it works, and how to operate it.

What is a TENS Pain Therapy Machine?

A TENS pain therapy machine is a device designed to provide relief from pain. It dispatches electrical currents to the body through electrodes attached to the skin. They are popular among athletes and those suffering from painful conditions. Moreover, pain clinics, medical practitioners, physical therapists, and massage therapists often recommend TENS therapy to patients.

TENS devices come in traditional and modern designs. Traditional TENS units are simple, with basic settings for pulse rate and intensity. They usually utilise physical wires. Conversely, modern versions offer advanced features. It may include programmable modes, digital displays, Bluetooth connectivity, and rechargeable batteries. Users typically control the unit manually or on smartphones.

Furthermore, TENS therapy offers numerous benefits to users. It is non-invasive and drug-free. Thus, it eliminates the prolonged recovery periods and potential side effects of medications. Accordingly, TENS treatment is customisable. Users can tailor the stimulation parameters to suit specific needs. Additionally, the therapy is cost-effective. It eliminates associated costs with frequent visits to a medical professional.

Treatable Conditions

  • Acute pain: Typically sudden and short-term. It may result from labour pain, menstrual pain, sports injuries, and headaches.
  • Chronic pain conditions: Persists for months or even years. TENS therapy can help those suffering from conditions like neck pain, leg pain, and arthritis pain.
  • Musculoskeletal pain: Affects the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. It may include conditions such as osteoarthritis pain, knee pain, and joint pain.
  • Neuropathic pain: Arises from damaged nerves and is characterised by sensations like burning or tingling. It may involve sciatic pain and diabetic neuropathy.
  • Muscular pain: TENS treatment can alleviate sore muscles, spasms, and cramps.

An elderly woman wearing TENS electrode on her wrist while reading

How a TENS Pain Therapy Machine Works

Foremost, the TENS pain therapy machine relies on the principles of the Pain Gate Theory. It proposes that electrical pulses can block pain signals travelling to the brain. When the unit is activated, the impulses can reach the neural gateways in the spinal cord. It is where the pain signals are modulated before reaching the brain. TENS can close the “gate”, preventing the brain from perceiving the pain intensity.

Secondly, the electrical stimulation encourages the production and release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers in the body, akin to morphine. These chemicals bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Thus, it leads to a reduction in pain perceptions and promotes a sense of well-being. Endorphins can significantly alleviate discomfort, reduce stress, and enhance mood.

Improved blood circulation is another benefit TENS therapy provides. The electrical currents stimulate the muscles and blood vessels, promoting blood flow. Increased circulation helps reduce inflammation and promote tissue healing. It delivers oxygen and nutrients more efficiently to painful areas. As such, it aids in the recovery process and reduces discomfort.

Low and High Frequencies

TENS devices apply the electrical currents in low and high frequencies. Low-frequency TENS operates at 1 to 10 Hz. It is believed to stimulate the production of endorphins in the body. Nevertheless, this setting is beneficial for managing chronic conditions.

On the other hand, high-frequency TENS functions at 50 to 120 Hz. It employs a different strategy known as the pain gate mechanism. It suggests that the electrical currents can effectively interrupt pain messages. Accordingly, this approach is valuable in addressing acute conditions. Overall, the versatility of TENS therapy lies in its ability to adjust these frequencies according to specific needs.

A step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app

How to Operate a TENS Pain Therapy Machine

One must follow several straightforward steps to operate a TENS pain therapy machine. Firstly, carefully read the manual to understand its features and safety guidelines. It is crucial to start by identifying the area of pain and ensuring the skin is clean and dry. Once ready, attach the electrode pads. The positioning depends on the nature of the pain. Adhere to the proper electrode placement guide.

After securing the electrodes, turn on the TENS machine and adjust the settings. Professionals recommend starting at the lowest intensity level. Gradually, increase the intensity until a solid but comfortable sensation replaces the pain. It is essential to avoid setting it too high, as the goal is to achieve pain relief without causing discomfort or muscle twitching.

During the session, users can adjust the settings for comfort and efficacy. The duration can last between 15 to 30 minutes. After the therapy session, power off the TENS machine and gently remove the electrode pads. Finally, store the TENS device and accessories in a safe, dry place. It ensures its longevity and readiness for subsequent use.

Electrode Placement Guide

Before starting, selecting the correct type of electrodes, including size and shape, is essential. Accordingly, the skin where to place the electrodes should be clean and dry to improve conductivity. The fundamental principle for electrode placement is to position them near or around the area experiencing discomfort.

For localised pain, users can place the pads around the painful area. Conversely, position the pads along the nerve pathway for pain that travels along a nerve. Additionally, place the electrodes on opposing sides when dealing with larger body areas. Do not place the pads on the head, eyes, throat, chest, bony regions, and broken skin.


In conclusion, a TENS pain therapy machine is a valuable tool for those seeking non-invasive pain relief. It is a device available in traditional and modern design. The unit emits electrical currents. It sends these pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. These impulses work by blocking the pain signals, stimulating the release of endorphins, and improving blood circulation. Additionally, TENS units can deliver the electrical currents in low (1-10 Hz) and high (50-120 Hz) frequencies.

With such mechanisms, TENS therapy can treat a wide range of conditions. It can manage conditions like headaches, leg pain, knee pain, sciatica, and sore muscles. Furthermore, it is straightforward to operate the machine. Begin by reading the user manual. Then, locate the treatment region and prepare the skin over it. Attach the electrode pads, following the proper electrode placement guide. Finally, power on the TENS unit and adjust the settings. The session can last between 15 to 30 minutes.

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