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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Simple TENS Unit – Is it Effective for Pain Relief?

A TENS kit with the essential information for use

Many people rely on painkillers to relieve pain. However, there may be adverse side effects with constant use. Fortunately, there are more alternatives available. One of which is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It is an electrotherapy. It can come in the form of a simple TENS unit. The device is drug-free and non-invasive. Hence, the risks and potential aftereffects are minimal. The unit sends low-voltage electrical currents that stimulate the nerves, leading to effective pain relief.

Aside from medication, the other treatments for pain are trigger point injections and physical activities like yoga. They can be reliable methods, but they may not be as accessible as others for some people. Thus, a TENS device can be a more suitable option for them. To learn more information about the machine, the following sections will present what it is, how it can be effective, and its advantages over its counterparts.

What is a Simple TENS Unit?

A simple TENS unit is a device that is powered by batteries. A typical device consists of electrodes, lead wires, and a machine. There are wireless units, too. The pads are inserted in a casing called wings. These wings have various sizes. Small ones are for areas like the ankles, while the large ones are for areas like the back and legs.

Traditionally, people see a TENS machine inside hospitals and rehab centres. They also commonly use the handheld units. Nowadays, more wireless units are available for convenience. They can access the power buttons manually or via Bluetooth. Moreover, there are buttons on both types to adjust the settings, such as intensity, duration, and frequency.

TENS can target different kinds of pain. It can be acute, moderate, or chronic pains. Individuals can use it for the whole body. However, some parts are more vulnerable, like the eyes, spine, and the front of the neck. Hence, they should avoid it as much as possible. It is a generally safe procedure, but it is best to consult a professional before use.


Typically, a TENS machine has the same set of features. But there are also additional ones that other units may not have. These features are as follows:

  • Pads – Electrode pads are a vital aspect of the success of TENS. They can be wired or wireless, and they can have different shapes and sizes.
  • Combination – Some devices have modes for electric muscle stimulation (EMS). Others are even 3-in-1, as there is an option for massage mode.
  • Bluetooth – This is common for wireless devices. It allows them to access a mobile application. They operate TENS using their phones.

A woman using four TENS units on her leg and foot

How Can a Simple TENS Unit Be Effective?

The reason why simple TENS units are effective is because their process is simple yet safe. TENS uses mild electric currents to send to the body. It stimulates the nerves to produce endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of the body. Moreover, it can block pain signals from reaching the brain. Thus, it can relax people and relieve pain.

Usually, there are low and high frequencies. Low should be less than 10 Hz, while high is greater than 50 Hz. Patients with chronic pain conditions can utilise the low frequencies at around 2-10 Hz. Some have moderate levels of pain. They can use 35-50 Hz. As for those with acute pain, they can do 80-120 Hz.

The success of TENS can be based on the combination of pad placement, proper usage, and quality of the device. Attaching the pads can be done directly or near the pain area. People can alternate the patterns for better results. They need to properly use TENS by following the guidelines. Also, it is important to use high-quality units.

How to Use the Device

TENS is user-friendly. Hence, people who plan on buying one will not have a difficult time navigating it. Generally, the process starts by connecting the wires to a handheld device. Otherwise, they can immediately place the unit in the area. They can use multiple pads at once if it provides more relief.

Next, they can turn on the device. They can operate it using the device itself or through a mobile application. After 20-30 minutes, they can end the session. It is important to turn off the device first before removing the pads from the skin.

Instructions on how to properly use a mobile application for TENS machine

Advantages of a Simple TENS Unit

Simple TENS units have several advantages over other treatments for pain. Firstly, it is natural and non-invasive. Medications can cause adverse side effects when constantly consumed. For instance, long-term use can damage bodily organs like the liver. Additionally, some procedures can be quite invasive. One example is a trigger point injection. It involves inserting a needle into the body. TENS uses harmless stimulation to reduce pain.

Secondly, it can be modified. Unlike others, users can adjust the settings of their devices to fit their preferences. Devices like iTENS from iTENS Australia have pre-set modes that can be controlled through a mobile application. Some methods have limitations. Hence, they cannot get their preferred level of relief.

Lastly, it is convenient and fast. People only need to attach the TENS pads to their skin. However, treatments like yoga require many movements, which can lead to exhaustion. Some poses can also be difficult for other people. Furthermore, if their yoga or other therapy sessions are outside the home, it can take time. On the other hand, they can do a TENS session anywhere, especially if they own a device.

Are There Disadvantages?

TENS has advantages, but there are also slight disadvantages. One of which is the fact that it may not work for everyone. Thus, people should set the right expectations. This is especially true for those who are more vulnerable than others, such as epileptic people. Even if they do not experience any side effects, the therapy may not be effective due to the severity of their case.

Another one is it may cause discomfort. Some people are sensitive to sensations, and the ones TENS produces can be uncomfortable. However, it is important to note that the tingling sensations are normal and safe.


A simple TENS unit is effective. Many healthcare professionals use it for their patients. Also, there is plenty of research proving its effectiveness. Thus, people who want to try it should do it. They can ask their doctors to prescribe them with the therapy. Also, it could be more beneficial if they own a unit as it is more convenient. Buying a TENS machine does not require a prescription, but they should do a consultation first for maximum protection.

TENS therapy is a safe and convenient method of relieving pain. It uses electric currents to reduce and manage the pain people feel. It is more advantageous than other treatments as it is non-invasive and can be done fast. There may be tingling sensations, but it is part of the process. Hence, there is no need to worry about it. People can take breaks in between to avoid discomfort and skin irritation.

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