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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Stimulator for Back Pain: What It Is and How It Works

A large wing iTENS electrode and information about it

A stimulator for back pain is a medical device that offers a modern and effective solution for backaches. This uses electric stimulation to trigger various mechanisms for an improvement in pain. It can trigger the pain gate mechanism to block signals from reaching the brain. It can also induce the release of endorphins. Lastly, it stimulates blood circulation to aid in healing. Moreover, it is easy to use whenever needed, providing a convenient option for immediate relief.

Many things can cause backaches, ranging from poor posture to medical conditions. It can lead to a decrease in the quality of life due to how it can limit the normal activities the person can do. Fortunately, there are various treatment options for it, including electrotherapy. This article will present information on electric stimulators for backaches, how they work, and how to use them.

What is a Stimulator for Back Pain?

Back pain is a common condition that most people experience at some point in their lives. It can range from mild aches to severe pain that causes a significant decrease in the quality of life. Hence, many turn to pain medication, surgical procedures, and physical therapy to address it. Many also use alternative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, and electrotherapy.

A stimulator for back pain is a device that provides relief from backaches using electrical pulses. There are many types, including non-invasive and portable devices. There are also ones that require permanent implantation, like spinal cord stimulators. However, it is essential to note that electrical stimulators do not cure underlying conditions that cause the experience of pain.

Individuals may discuss with a medical professional regarding which device can provide sustained benefits for them. Doing so allows the professional to diagnose the condition and form a medical treatment plan. This can help ensure safety and minimise the risks of using electric stimulation.

Types of Electrical Stimulator

  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines use low-voltage electric currents to provide temporary pain relief from acute and chronic pain conditions.
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) units are commonly used to help improve muscle strength and tone. It utilises high-frequency therapy to induce involuntary muscle contractions.
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) machines target the muscles and nerves to re-educate them and help people recover from injuries and paralysis.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) devices are implanted in the back and deliver electrical signals directly to the spinal column to alleviate pain.
  • Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) units use needles to deliver electrical stimulation directly into the tissues.

A woman experiencing back pain while sitting

How a Stimulator for Back Pain Works

A stimulator for back pain works by utilising electric currents to trigger mechanisms that can alleviate pain. Firstly, high-frequency stimulation can trigger the spinal nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This is the pain gate mechanism suggested in the Gate Control Theory of Pain, which can provide immediate relief for acute pain.

Secondly, individuals may use low-frequency stimulation to trigger the production of endorphins. These are natural painkilling hormones that block opioid receptors and reduce the overall pain levels. Furthermore, using this stimulation in patients improves their moods and sense of well-being. This is ideal for chronic pain conditions that can also affect the mental health of individuals.

Lastly, electrical stimulation can increase blood flow to the target area. This can aid in healing various injuries and help reduce inflammation. Furthermore, it can help reduce muscle soreness and improve mobility. This can help them return to normal activities and speed up rehabilitation. Overall, electric stimulators can provide pain control and clinical benefits to their users.

Benefits of Electrotherapy

Electrotherapy brings many benefits to people. Firstly, it provides drug-free relief. This provides long-term benefits by reducing the risks of adverse effects from taking pain medicines. Secondly, it provides targeted relief for medical conditions and body aches. This includes neck pain, arm pain, leg pain, abdominal pain, neuropathic pain, and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

Thirdly, it complements other treatments. This medical technology can be used with gentle exercises to reduce the pain intensity and improve the quality of life compared to before. Lastly, some types of stimulators are non-invasive. This eliminates the risk of infection and other complications from surgical interventions.

A woman wearing a large wing iTENS electrode on her lower back

How to Use a Stimulator for Back Pain

Using a stimulator for back pain is a straightforward process. However, it is crucial to follow the proper procedure to ensure analgesic efficacy and prevent additional risks during treatment. To start, the user must identify the area where the aches are originating from. Then, they may attach electrodes to muscles near the area.

Once the electrodes are secure, they may turn their device on and adjust the settings for sufficient pain relief. It is best to start on low intensity and gradually increase it to avoid sudden shocks or discomfort from the stimulation. Alternatively, they may select a preset mode. Sessions typically last between 15 to 30 minutes. Hence, users must ensure it has enough battery life for the entire session.

When the time has elapsed, they may turn it off and remove the electrodes. If needed, they may use the unit more throughout the day. However, they must take breaks to avoid possible skin irritation or burns. Moreover, they should not use the stimulator while in water or operating heavy machinery.

When to See a Doctor?

Electric stimulators are safe for many people to use. Nevertheless, knowing when to seek medical attention is crucial for ensuring safety. Firstly, they should consult a medical professional if they feel increasing pain intensity during the treatment. This is because they could have an underlying condition that negatively reacts to electric stimulation.

Secondly, they should seek medical help if they experience persistent muscle spasms or tingling sensations after their session. This is a sign of overuse or an effect of using excessively high intensities. Lastly, they may see a doctor if they experience allergic reactions from the electrodes.


A stimulator for back pain is an effective device that helps alleviate aches from the condition. It can be a non-invasive option like TENS. Meanwhile, some need implanted devices like SCS. These work by triggering mechanisms, such as the pain gate mechanism, endorphin release, and increased blood circulation to decrease the overall pain levels. They also bring additional benefits, such as being complementary to other treatments and applicable to other conditions, like CRPS.

Nevertheless, consulting a medical professional is crucial before using an electrotherapy device. They can help ensure safety by diagnosing the condition and advising on using the stimulators. To get an SCS implant, a patient must undergo several assessments, including a psychological screening. This is because it involves an invasive procedure. Meanwhile, people may purchase TENS machines online or in pharmacies. Those interested in wireless TENS units may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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