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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Physiotherapy Electric Shock Machine: Overview and Safety Guidelines

A large wing iTENS electrode and refill gel pads

Using physiotherapy electric shock machines can significantly help during rehabilitation. Examples of electrotherapy devices used in physiotherapy are Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) units. TENS is aimed towards providing pain relief. Meanwhile, EMS helps with muscle strength and reduces muscle atrophy. It is ideal to consult a healthcare professional before using these devices. Additionally, users should read the safety guidelines and follow the prescribed duration of the sessions.

Furthermore, people can get advice on proper pad placement and maintenance for effective results. These devices relieve muscle inflammation and increase blood flow to the target areas. This helps improve mobility and boosts energy for physical exercises during rehabilitation. This helps build a strong body less prone to injuries. The following sections will provide an overview of the definition, safety guidelines, and benefits of using TENS and EMS devices.

What are Physiotherapy Electric Shock Machines

Some examples of physiotherapy electric shock machines are EMS and TENS. Doctors and physical therapists incorporate these devices to help with rehabilitation. Both machines use electrode pads to deliver electrical stimulation to specific body parts, albeit for different purposes. TENS machines are focused on providing pain relief. Meanwhile, EMS machines help with muscle recovery.

TENS machines have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz. Additionally, they have an intensity range of 0-80 mAmp. These devices help with physical therapy by alleviating chronic and acute pain. Low-frequency stimulation triggers the release of endorphins. Meanwhile, high-frequency stimulation blocks the pain sensations from reaching the brain. Additionally, TENS machines help relieve inflammation. Altogether, they increase mobility, which helps while doing exercises during treatment.

On the other hand, EMS machines have higher frequency and intensity ranges. Its frequency ranges from 25-400 Hz, and its intensity range is 1-120 mAmp. These higher settings allow the electrical stimulation to penetrate the muscle fibres. These electrical currents induce involuntary muscle contractions that improve muscle strength and tone.

Pad Placement Guidelines

Proper pad placement is vital for both EMS and TENS devices to deliver optimal results. For EMS devices, place electrodes on the targeted muscle groups. Meanwhile, TENS pads are placed near or on the pain area. However, there are places where adhesives should not be attached. These are some of them:

  • Irritated, damaged, or infected skin
  • any part of the throat
  • on the top of the head
  • in the mouth
  • on the eyes
  • both sides of the chest and trunk
  • directly on the spine
  • on top of bones and joints
  • directly on varicose veins
  • numb areas

A guide showing how to use the iTENS smartphone app

Safety Guidelines for Using a Physiotherapy Electric Shock Machine

The best way to ensure safety is to consult a healthcare professional before using a physiotherapy electric shock machine. This is because some conditions are negatively affected by electric stimulation. Some examples are those with a history of cancer, arrhythmia, and seizures. Additionally, pregnant women should abstain from using these devices before labour. Lastly, those with electrical and metal implants like pacemakers should avoid using electrotherapy.

In addition, reading the guidelines from the manufacturer helps the user to operate their device. It may include instructions on where to place the electrode pads for different conditions. Moreover, the individual should stick to the prescribed session durations. Generally, EMS sessions should not last more than 30 minutes. Meanwhile, TENS sessions usually last 20 to 60 minutes.

Furthermore, do not use electrotherapy devices while showering or submerged in water. Likewise, people should not use TENS and EMS while sleeping, driving, or operating heavy machinery. Finally, abstain from sharing electrode pads to avoid possible skin infections.

Electrode Pad Maintenance

Most electrode pads for electrotherapy devices are reusable for about 15 to 30 uses. However, the user should ensure that the adhesives are clean and sticky before use. This ensures proper conduction of the electrical currents. Additionally, it prevents instances of the pads slipping off.

The best way to care for electrode pads is to keep them clean. Ensure the skin is clean and dry before placing the pads to avoid coming into contact with body oils. Moreover, clean the pads with a moist cloth and a few drops of water after use. Finally, store them in a cool and dry place.

An elderly woman with an iTENS electrode on her arm while reading a magazine

Benefits of Using a Physiotherapy Electric Shock Machine

Using a physiotherapy electric shock machine has many benefits. Firstly, TENS therapy replaces or reduces the intake of oral pain medications. These medicines can be addictive and cause many adverse effects, like headaches, stomach bleeding, and anxiety. Meanwhile, TENS is a pain management method that complements other forms of treatment.

TENS machines are used for chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgiasciaticamigraines, and diabetic-related neuropathy. They are also used for acute pains from cuts, burns, and wounds. Meanwhile, EMS units help those recovering from post-stroke complications and paralysis. EMS devices retrain muscles and prevent muscle atrophy. They are also helpful during warm-up exercises. However, it is crucial to avoid overstimulation from misuse of these devices.

Both devices provide muscle relaxation and reduce fatigue. Moreover, they boost blood flow and reduce inflammation in their target areas. Altogether, these machines improve body functions and increase the range of motion. This is helpful during rehabilitation exercises and allows them to do more activities. Thus, it speeds up their recovery time and improves their quality of life.

Effects of Overusing TENS and EMS

Overusing electrotherapy devices may lead to adverse effects. Firstly, skin irritation or mild rashes may appear after overuse. It is ideal to take breaks in between therapy sessions. EMS sessions generally only occur once or twice a week. Meanwhile, TENS units can be used daily up to four times.

It is vital to stick to the prescribed duration and number of sessions. TENS machines should not cause muscle twitching that persists even after the session. Also, overstimulation due to EMS use may cause muscle fatigue, sensitivity, nausea, or nerve damage. Furthermore, constant use of high-frequencies decreases its effectiveness over time.


Physiotherapy electric shock machines like TENS and EMS units help many patients with their rehabilitation. EMS machines promote muscle growth, reduce muscle atrophy, and provide cosmetic muscle toning. Meanwhile, TENS machines provide drug-free and effective pain relief for their users. They are effective for both chronic and acute pain conditions. Together, these electrotherapy devices aid with other treatment methods like exercise to heal the body and prevent future injuries.

Nevertheless, it is vital to consult a medical professional before using these devices for the first time. This ensures the safety of those with certain health conditions. Moreover, people should refer to the safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Another crucial factor is to get reliable devices. The iTENS from iTENS Australia is one wireless TENS device that helps alleviate pain caused by many conditions. It uses innovative wing-shaped electrodes to deliver electric stimulation.

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