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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Pulse Massager For Pain Relief: What Is It And What Conditions Can It Treat?

A long and small wing iTENS electrode with refill gel pads

Living with constant aches can severely impact the quality of life. This is why many have started using a pulse massager for pain relief. Pulse massagers are also known as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) units. These are electrotherapy devices that deliver electric currents to the body using electrodes. It is effective on chronic and acute pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, sciatica, migraines, and sports injuries.

TENS machines use high and low-frequency stimulation to relieve pain. High frequencies trigger spinal nerve cells to block pain signals. Meanwhile, low frequencies induce endorphin production. This natural and drug-free therapy is gaining popularity because of its convenience and lack of side effects. There are many wired and wireless options available online and in pharmacies. This article will present what a TENS unit is, what conditions it can treat, and how to use it.

What is a Pulse Massager for Pain Relief

Today, many people use a pulse massager for pain relief to avoid the adverse effects of medication. A TENS machine is an electrotherapy device that uses electrical currents to alleviate pain. Typically, TENS machines have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mA. They are commonly used in hospitals and therapy clinics. However, they are now available in pharmacies and online stores.

Generally, there are two types of TENS machines: wired and wireless. Wired units are also known as handheld or traditional TENS. Doctors and physical therapists commonly use these to help their patients with rehabilitation. This type of TENS uses lead cables to connect the controller to the electrode pads.

Meanwhile, wireless TENS remove the restrictions of wires by using Bluetooth technology. Many find these convenient because they remove the required setup with traditional units. Furthermore, they are portable and often equipped with more preset modes. In addition, some replace the need for controllers by allowing a smartphone app to control the electrodes.

Advantages of Using the Device Over Other Methods

There are many benefits to using TENS therapy over other pain management methods. These are some of them:

  • TENS does not cause serious adverse effects when used correctly. This is in contrast to pain medications, which may cause nausea, stomach bleeding, and headaches.
  • It does not have addictive effects, and people may use this treatment up to four times daily.
  • TENS is complementary to many treatments due to its non-invasive method.
  • Using high-frequency stimulation creates a massage-like effect that increases blood flow and reduces muscle tension.
  • Endorphins help improve moods and reduce inflammation, increasing body mobility and quality of life.

A person wearing a long wing iTENS electrode for sciatica

Conditions a Pulse Massager for Pain Relief Can Treat

A pulse massager for pain relief is effective in various conditions. It provides temporary relief from sports injuries, such as tennis elbow, sprains, strains, and fractures. Moreover, high-frequency stimulation is particularly effective for sudden and sharp aches because it takes effect immediately for most people. In addition, it helps with postoperative pain. This is often experienced after surgery and can be felt throughout the body.

Furthermore, TENS is an effective method of pain relief for chronic pain conditions. Firstly, TENS therapy is effective for fibromyalgia. This causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, general fatigue, and tenderness. Secondly, sciatica is caused by injury or pressure to the sciatic nerve. It causes pain in the lower back and leg.

Thirdly, diabetic neuropathy causes pain in the legs, hands, and feet. It is caused by nerve damage from diabetes. Lastly, migraines are pulsating or throbbing headaches. It may last for days and typically reoccurs over time. These conditions can be debilitating for many people. Fortunately, with the use of TENS, they may find drug-free pain relief.

How the Device Works

TENS devices alleviate different kinds of pain by adjusting the settings of the electrical currents. High-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the spinal nerve cells to block the transmission of pain signals. This is the mechanism suggested in the Gate Control Theory of Pain.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation triggers the production of endogenous opioids. These are painkilling hormones that build up and reduce pain in the area. Many people use this setting for chronic pain because its effects last hours after the session. However, it is ideal to consult a healthcare professional to ensure the person is free from health issues that react negatively to TENS.

An elderly woman using an iTENS electrode on her wrist

How to Use a Pulse Massager for Pain Relief

People may ask for advice from medical professionals to ensure the safe use of a pulse massager for pain relief. They may advise on the settings, duration, and regularity. Another helpful tip for understanding how to use a TENS device is to read the guidelines from the manufacturer. Before starting, the user can clean the area with soap and water to maintain hygiene and remove body oils.

The user must place the electrodes near or on the pain area. Once the pads are secured, they may turn the machine on. Ideally, they can start on low settings to avoid sudden shock or discomfort. Then, they may gradually increase the settings or select a preset mode. These are modes tailored for specific body parts and conditions.

TENS therapy sessions generally last between 20 to 30 minutes. This may vary depending on the medical condition and settings used. However, it is crucial to avoid overusing the machine as it may cause adverse effects like skin burns. Once the time elapses, the user can turn the machine off and remove the electrodes.

Pad Placement Guide and Areas to Avoid

Proper pad placement is crucial for the effective delivery of electrical pulses to the body. Generally, users may place the adhesives near or on the origin of the pain. For example, people attach pads on the base of the neck for migraines and neck pain. It is best to place them on muscle areas and to avoid bones and joints.

Furthermore, do not place pads on sensitive areas, such as the spine, throat, chest, mouth, eyes, and top of the head. Users should also avoid areas with broken, infected, or irritated skin. This is because it may worsen the current condition.


A pulse massager for pain relief is helpful for various conditions, like tennis elbow and fibromyalgia. Moreover, it helps reduce dependency on oral pain medications, which have many side effects. Using electrical stimulation, people can experience convenient alleviation of aches. This improves the quality of life and enables individuals to participate in more activities to help with recovery. Furthermore, these devices are available for home use without medical supervision.

Using a TENS machine is easy. The user must simply place the electrode on or near the origin of the pain. Then, they may turn the machine on for 20 to 30 minutes. However, it is best to consult a healthcare professional before using TENS to ensure safety. Moreover, using FDA-certified devices helps ensure the reliability and effectiveness of the machine. One option is the iTENS from iTENS Australia, which has hypoallergenic wing-shaped electrodes and a user-friendly smartphone app.

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