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12-month warranty
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Professionally endorsed

TENS Digital Therapy Machine: What It Is, How To Use, and Safety Guidelines

A long wing iTENS electrode and refill gel pads

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a form of electrotherapy that seeks to relieve pain. A TENS digital therapy machine uses electrodes to deliver electrical stimulation to the body. People may use it at home by attaching the electrode pads and adjusting the settings for optimal pain relief. However, it is best to consult a medical professional to ensure safety. They may also read the guidelines provided by the manufacturer to understand how to use their unit.

TENS therapy helps provide temporary relief from different acute and chronic pain conditions. Furthermore, this device comes in wired and wireless options. These are available for purchase online or in pharmacies. Some devices offer preset modes, portable designs, and rechargeable batteries to make pain relief more convenient. This article will present what a TENS machine is, how it works, how to use one, and its safety guidelines.

What is a TENS Digital Therapy Machine and How Does it Work

A TENS digital therapy machine is an electronic device for relieving aches from various conditions. It uses electrode pads to deliver low-voltage electric currents to the body. Typically, TENS units have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mA. There are two types of TENS units: wired and wireless. Furthermore, some devices provide additional features for effective relief.

High-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the spinal nerve fibres to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This is the mechanism described in the Gate Control Theory of Pain. For many, it takes effect within 30 minutes of use. This makes it suitable for acute pain conditions like sports injuries and headaches. It also has a massage-like effect that increases blood circulation and reduces muscle tension.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation (2-10 Hz) triggers the production of endorphins. These painkilling hormones build up and relieve the aches in the targeted body parts. This is suitable for chronic pain because its effects last hours after the session. Some examples of chronic conditions it works on are fibromyalgia, sciatica, arthritis, and diabetic neuropathy.

Features of the Device for Effective Pain Relief

Many TENS devices offer various features to provide relief. These are some of them:

  • Portability: Some machines are easy to use in various settings. In particular, wireless TENS machines lessen the setup needed before starting a TENS therapy session.
  • Rechargeable batteries: Some units offer rechargeable batteries that may support up to 24 hours of use per charge. It also removes the hassle of buying new batteries.
  • Preset modes: Preset modes make it more convenient to treat different aches like joint pain, leg pain, and knee pain. Additionally, there are preprogrammed modes such as burst, continuous, and modulation modes. These deliver different patterns of electric pulses.

A guide for using the iTENS smartphone app

How to Use a TENS Digital Therapy Machine

Many doctors and physical therapists use TENS digital therapy machines to help patients with rehabilitation. Nowadays, people may also use these machines at home without medical supervision. Before using the machine, it is ideal to clean the skin with soap and water and then dry it. This helps remove excess body oils and allows the adhesives to stick better.

Then, the user may place the electrode pads near or on the origin of the pain. Once the adhesives are secured, they may turn the machine on. It is recommended to start on the lowest settings to avoid sudden shocks or discomfort. Afterwards, they may gradually increase the settings or select a preset mode. Typically, TENS sessions last between 20 to 30 minutes. However, a health professional may also advise on the regularity, settings, and duration of a session.

Once the time elapses, the user must turn the device off. Although people may have multiple sessions daily, it is best to take breaks in between. This lets users avoid adverse side effects like skin irritation or mild burns. When the user is finished using TENS, they may remove the electrode pads.

Pad Placement Guide

Proper pad placement is crucial for effectively delivering electrical currents to the target areas. For knee pain, people may attach the pads to the muscles around the knees. Meanwhile, people may treat neck pain by placing pads about two inches underneath the skull on the back of the neck. Lastly, users may place pads on the bottom of the foot for foot pain.

It is crucial to avoid sensitive areas while attaching the pads. This includes the spinal cord, throat, chest, and top of the head. Furthermore, users must avoid placing electrode pads on irritated, broken, or infected skin.

An elderly woman using an iTENS long wing electrode

Safety Considerations When Using a TENS Digital Therapy Machine

Ensuring safety is crucial when using a TENS digital therapy machine. It is ideal to consult a doctor or physical therapist before using any electrotherapy device. They may assess if the condition is suited for TENS treatment. Furthermore, they may determine if it is safe for the individual to use. Some conditions react negatively to electric impulses. This includes those with a history of cancer, epilepsy, seizures, and heart disease.

Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid using TENS before labour. This is because it may cause uterine contractions. People with electrical and metal implants, like cardiac pacemakers, should also avoid using TENS. This is because it may cause their devices to malfunction.

In addition, it is crucial to read the guidelines provided by the machine manufacturer. Moreover, people must stay awake and alert during the session. This will allow them to react if things go awry. People should also avoid water while using TENS. This is to prevent sudden electric shocks.

When to See a Doctor

TENS therapy is safe for many people to use. However, some cases may require medical attention to ensure the problem does not worsen or develop further complications. For example, individuals should consult a doctor if they feel worsening pain during or after the session. This is a possible sign of an underlying medical condition reacting negatively to electric currents.

Furthermore, allergic reactions, skin irritation and muscle twitching are common side effects of using TENS therapy. Often, these are mild and a product of misusing the device. However, if these effects are persistent and excessive, it is best to seek help.


A TENS digital therapy machine uses electrodes for the effective delivery of electrical currents to targeted areas. TENS machines use different settings to relieve pain. High-frequency stimulation triggers spinal nerve fibres to block pain messages from reaching the brain. Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation triggers the production of endorphins. This is effective for various conditions like arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia. However, it is ideal to consult a healthcare professional before using TENS.

TENS machines are easy to use at home and other places. Moreover, some devices offer features like preset modes for more convenient relief. People may buy TENS machines without medical prescriptions. They are available online and in pharmacies. However, it is best to get FDA-approved devices to ensure reliability and safety. People may also select between wired and wireless options, depending on their needs. One prospect is the wireless iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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