Australian Registered Medical Device

Same day dispatch

12-month warranty

Professionally endorsed

AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS for IBS: Pad Placement Guide

A woman clutching her abdomen

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that involves the use of low-voltage electrical currents to alleviate pain. It generally consists of a control unit and sets of electrode pads. The ideal pad placement when using TENS for IBS is on either side of the lower belly or below the belly button. Make sure to space the adhesive patches evenly, about two inches apart, for effective stimulation. This helps to alleviate IBS symptoms and provide relief to the user.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a health condition that affects the large intestine. It can cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. The most common treatment methods include lifestyle adjustments, oral medications, high-fibre foods, and a heating pad. However, they may not provide complete relief for everyone. One alternative form of pain relief is TENS therapy. This article will present what a TENS device for IBS is, including its proper pad placement and mechanism of action.

What is TENS for IBS?

TENS is a battery-operated pain relief device that sends mild electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves to alleviate pain and discomfort. This provides localised pain relief through the placement of adhesive electrode pads on the targeted area. Specifically, the TENS for IBS targets the nerves in the gut that send pain signals to the brain.

Two types of TENS devices are available for individuals: standard and wireless. A standard TENS machine typically includes a handheld push-button remote and wires that connect to electrode gel pads. In contrast, a wireless TENS machine uses Bluetooth to link with a smartphone application. This product is popular among those who value easy and portable pain relief options. Nevertheless, both types deliver adequate electrical stimulation.

The TENS electrodes are interchangeable with different sizes and shapes. This can help fit various body areas and deliver appropriate electrical stimulation levels. Additionally, the pads stick firmly to the skin without causing any penetration or leaving lasting marks. It is worth noting that TENS is not a cure for pain but only provides temporary relief from discomfort.

Understanding IBS Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain: Individuals with IBS often experience abdominal cramps or discomfort in the stomach area, which can range from mild to severe pain in patients.
  • Bloating: They may feel a sense of fullness and swelling in the abdomen, often accompanied by visible distention.
  • Gas: Excessive air is passed from the digestive system, leading to discomfort, bloating, and sometimes audible sounds.
  • Diarrhea: Those with IBS may frequently experience loose or watery stools.
  • Constipation: Bowel movements may become difficult to pass, or individuals may experience irregular bowel motions.
  • Cramping: Sharp or dull pains may occur in the abdomen, varying in duration and intensity levels.


iTENS large wing kit with written features

Mechanisms of Action of TENS for IBS

TENS for IBS works in two mechanisms. Firstly, the low-voltage electrical currents override the nervous system. TENS activates the large-diameter sensory nerves to close off the “gate” in the spinal cord. This induces them to block the transmission of pain signals from reaching the brain. Moreover, the tingling sensations distract the brain from perceiving pain.

Secondly, electric nerve stimulation triggers the production of endorphins, the natural painkillers. When endorphins are released, they bind to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other body parts to help block pain messages from being transmitted. In addition to reducing the feeling of pain, they also produce feelings of euphoria, which can help improve mood and decrease stress levels.

Individuals with IBS should consult a doctor before using a TENS machine, especially if they have other underlying medical conditions or are pregnant. TENS may not be suitable for people with heart problems, epilepsy, and implanted medical devices like a pacemaker. Professionals may advise on the proper use of a TENS unit or suggest other treatment plans.

Frequencies and Intensities

Frequency refers to the number of pulses or cycles of electrical current per second. The typical frequency levels in TENS therapy range from 1 to 150 Hz. Lower frequencies, such as 1-5 Hz, are suitable for chronic pain. Meanwhile, higher frequencies, such as 80-150 Hz, are for acute pain.

Intensity is the strength or power of the electrocurrents, measured in milliamps (mA). It influences how deeply the electrical signals penetrate the body. Generally, TENS therapy starts with a low intensity and gradually increases to a comfortable level. Finding the right intensity is essential for maximising the benefits of this pain management method.

A hand peeling off the plastic backing of the iTENS electrode


Pad Placement When Using TENS for IBS

Proper placement of electrodes is crucial for the effectiveness of TENS for IBS. The pads of the TENS electrode machine come with an adhesive side that sticks to the skin. This allows the low-voltage electrical impulses to stimulate the targeted nerves. Hence, it is essential to identify the most painful region to determine the correct electrode placement.

The lower abdomen is typically the area of focus for IBS-related pain. Thus, the general electrode placement guide is on either side of the lower belly or below the belly button. The pads should be evenly spaced about two inches apart to ensure proper stimulation.

The placement may vary depending on the individual and where the symptoms are most prominent. Another area to put the adhesive electrodes is at the lower back. This is especially helpful for individuals who experience backache as a symptom of their IBS. However, there are several areas to avoid. These include the spinal cord, throat, chest, head, genitals, and eyes.

How to Operate the Device

Using the device for IBS involves a few steps. First, apply the electrode pads on the treatment area, usually the lower abdomen, and turn on the TENS unit. Make sure the skin is clean and dry before putting the pads. Then, adjust the settings (frequency, pulse width, intensity) to the desired level.

It is best to start with the lowest settings and gradually increase to a comfortable level. The sensation should be strong but painless. Individuals may also choose a pre-set mode for abdominal pain or IBS-related settings in their device. Additionally, users can set the treatment duration between 20 to 30 minutes.


In conclusion, TENS for IBS offers localised pain relief by stimulating nerves with mild electrical impulses. It works by blocking pain signals and triggering the release of natural painkillers. Both standard and wireless TENS devices are available, providing flexibility and convenience. However, consultation with a doctor is essential, especially for those with underlying medical conditions. TENS may not be suitable for everyone, such as individuals with heart problems or epilepsy.

Furthermore, proper electrode placement is vital for effective TENS therapy for IBS, focusing on the lower abdomen or lower back. Users should ensure clean, dry skin and evenly space the adhesive pads for optimal stimulation. Operating the device involves applying the pads, adjusting settings gradually for comfort, and setting a treatment duration of 20 to 30 minutes. By following these steps, individuals can effectively manage IBS symptoms with TENS therapy.

Best Sellers

Shopping Cart
Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
Calculate Shipping

We have detected you are from the United States

We ship to all locations within the United States.
Prices will be automatically converted into USD.

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?


The item you’re adding to your cart doesn’t have any gel pads.

Note: iTENS wings should always be used with a gel pad.