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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Physical Therapy TENS Unit – How Does It Help To Relieve Pain?

A news pertaining to a new faster way for pain relief

Living with aches can be debilitating and affect every aspect of the daily life. Many people turn to therapies as a way to manage and reduce ailments. One popular tool is the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). The physical therapy TENS unit is a method of pain relief that delivers electrical pulses using electrode pads. The electrical energy stimulates the nerve, producing various physiological effects. Hence, it helps based on the Pain Gate mechanism and the release of endorphins.

Physical therapy is a widely used method to treat various musculoskeletal conditions and improve mobility. It often involves exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to relieve aches and restore function. However, the use of a TENS unit has gained popularity in recent years as a complementary tool in physical therapy. This article will present more about how the device works, how to operate it, and the safety precautions when using it.

Physical Therapy TENS Unit – How it Works

Physical therapy TENS unit is an approach to pain relief by employing an electrical signal. It works in several ways. One of the key mechanisms is the Pain Gate theory. This suggests that the electrical stimulation from TENS overwhelms the pain signals travelling to the brain, preventing them from reaching their destination. Essentially, it closes the gate, resulting in a reduction in ache perception.

Another way it functions is by stimulating the release of endorphins. These are the natural painkillers and mood-enhancing chemicals in the body. When the electrical impulses from the TENS go through the treatment areas, it triggers the release of endorphins. The approach can induce feelings of relaxation and pain relief. Additionally, TENS may also help improve blood circulation in the treatment area.

By increasing blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients occur in the tissues. This assists in the healing process and potentially reduces inflammation or swelling. During the sessions, one can do it at home or a therapist can carefully give appropriate settings. Afterwards, the electrode patches are placed on the skin. TENS will then deliver safe electrical pulses to provide relief.

Types of Pain It Can Treat

The following are the various types of aches that a TENS device can treat and manage:

  • Chronic pain – TENS therapy can be beneficial for people suffering from chronic (long-term) pain. This can include conditions like arthritis paincentral neck painfibromyalgia, or back aches.
  • Acute pain – physical therapy devices are helpful in addressing sudden aches. Such condition involves labour painmenstrual painsports injuries, and postoperative pain.
  • Joint-related aches – these are conditions associated with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Nerve pain – TENS can be beneficial for conditions such as sciatica or diabetic neuropathy.
  • Muscle pain – TENS is typical for managing strained muscles and muscle contractions.

An elderly adjusting the TENS device settings on her arm

Physical Therapy TENS Unit – How to Operate the Device

Operating a physical therapy TENS unit is relatively straightforward. Before starting, ensure that the electrical device is in good working condition. Make sure to check the batteries to see if it is sufficiently charged or have fresh batteries. Connect the wires for wired devices. Meanwhile, connect a smartphone through Bluetooth for wireless models. It is also helpful to know the proper electrode placement.

Clean the treatment area with mild soap and water. Dry the skin thoroughly to ensure good sticking of the adhesive electrodes. Afterwards, gently put the pads on the skin. Turn on the device by pressing the power button. Start with a low-level setting and adjust it to a comfort level. TENS devices have unit settings where users can modify the frequencyintensity, and duration of treatment.

The duration of each session may vary depending on the purpose and condition. However, it is advisable that the session lasts for 15 to 30 minutes and have a break when intended for a prolonged operation. Throughout the therapy, monitor the comfort level and moderately adjust the settings if necessary.

Areas to Avoid

When using a TENS device, certain areas on the body should be avoided to ensure safety and prevent any potential harm. These areas include the eyes, mouth, throat, head, bony regions, and genitals. It is important to avoid placing the electrodes directly on or near these sensitive areas, as the electrical impulses can cause discomfort or injury.

Additionally, it is advisable to avoid using TENS on areas of the body with broken or irritated skin. This can further aggravate the condition. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional or read a user manual to ensure proper usage and avoid potential risks.

A wireless pain relief from iTENS

Physical Therapy TENS Unit – Safety Considerations

It is important to prioritise safety while undergoing physical therapy TENS unit to ensure well-being. Before starting the therapy, it is crucial to consult a medical practitioner. This is particularly true for people with serious conditions. Accordingly, understand the user manual to know the precise functions of the device. Subsequently, ensure the skin is clean and dry before applying the electrodes to avoid shocks and interruption.

Follow the correct pad placement. Make sure that the pads do not cover or are near each other. Improper placement may not provide optimal pain relief or stimulation and could potentially cause discomfort or irritation. Be mindful of personal sensitivity and tolerance to electrical stimulation. It is vital to avoid excessive intensity levels that could cause further aches.

Stick to the advisable duration of TENS therapy. Prolonged use without proper guidance may lead to skin irritation or other issues. Conversely, it is important not to use the TENS for an insufficient duration, as it may not yield therapeutic effects. Additionally, do not use the device while driving, sleeping, or operating machinery. The electrical currents can shock users, which can lead to poor focus.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

While they can be effective in providing relief, there are potential risks and side effects associated with their use. One possible risk is skin irritation or allergic reactions due to the adhesive pads that attach the electrodes. Some individuals may also experience muscle twitching or spasms, especially if the intensity level is too high.

Additionally, TENS units are not advisable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy or having a pacemaker, as it can interfere with the implant. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using a TENS unit to ensure its safe and appropriate use.


Physical therapy TENS unit is a valuable approach to manage and reduce aches. The device is popular as it eliminates the adverse effects of oral medications or invasive procedures. Hence, it functions by streaming electrical impulses through the body using electrode patches. Accordingly, it works based on the Pain Gate theory and the triggering of the release of endorphins. The method can address various ailments, whether acute or chronic conditions.

One contributing factor to the popularity of TENS devices is their ease of use. Users will connect the pads, place the electrodes, adjust the settings, and relax. Moreover, the tool has modifiable features to suit each preference and treatment needs. This includes the frequency, intensity, and duration of use. Nevertheless, it is vital to recognise the safety considerations for a secure and effective therapy. Also, know the potential risks and side effects to make actions and alterations in the process.

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