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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine for Constipation: Instructions for Pad Placement

An iTENS electrode and refill gel pads

Constipation is a common digestive issue that affects many people. It causes discomfort and difficulty in passing stool, leading to a lower quality of life. To help treat this condition, some are using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). Using a TENS machine for constipation can help improve bowel transit time. For effective electrical stimulation, individuals may apply electrode pads to their lower abdomen or lower back. They may use multiple pads, depending on their condition.

Many people use various medical therapies to aid with constipation. Medication is a popular method alongside diet modifications. Some also consider another form of electrotherapy called interferential therapy. TENS is also growing in popularity for aiding bowel function. Although it is mainly used for pain relief, many have observed therapeutic effects for constipation as well. This article will present how TENS works, the proper pad placements for bowel dysfunction, and its benefits.

How a TENS Machine for Constipation Works

Constipation is a common condition in which an individual experiences infrequent and difficult bowel motions. There are many possible causes for this. Treatment options for constipation typically involve dietary changes. Healthcare professionals may also recommend exercises and intake of medicines and supplements. A TENS machine for constipation delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the body for natural relief.

Generally, people use TENS machines to alleviate pain from various acute and chronic conditions. It sends electrical impulses that can stimulate the sensory nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. It also triggers the production of endorphins. TENS can also stimulate the vagus and the sacral nerves to help accelerate bowel functions and reduce constipation and discomfort.

Furthermore, TENS can also help alleviate one of the causes of constipation called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Nevertheless, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before using TENS for any condition. They may assess if the individual has functional constipation and advise if electrical stimulation therapy would suit the person. It is crucial to note that those with heart disease and cardiac pacemakers may not be able to use TENS.

Prevalence of Constipation

The prevalence of constipation is fairly high and affects both adults and children alike. This is because there are several causes of bowel dysfunction. Hence, awareness can help encourage prevention and management strategies. These are some of the causes of constipation:

  • Low-fibre diets: fibre can significantly ease bowel motion because it can help soften the bowel contents.
  • Lack of water: dehydration can negatively impact bowel contacts, making it difficult to have frequent bowel motions.
  • Lifestyle changes: pregnant women often experience constipation due to their body changing. This can also be observed in shift workers and those who travel frequently.

A person removing the film of an iTENS pad

Pad Placement When Using a TENS Machine for Constipation

Proper electrode placement is crucial when using a TENS machine for constipation. Some refer to placement charts or guides to ensure proper application. Many also refer to advice from their healthcare provider. Generally, individuals place the TENS pads on muscles near or on the origin of the pain.

For the treatment of constipation, the constipated patient may apply the electrode pads on the lower abdomen. The ideal area is beneath the belly button but above the pubic region. In addition, they may apply adhesives on the lower back. However, they must be careful and avoid sensitive areas. This includes the spinal cord and other bones. Moreover, they should ensure the pads are at least one inch away from each other to prevent interference.

In addition, they should avoid applying the pads on skin patches that are broken, irritated, or infected. This is because it could worsen the skin condition. To prepare for the treatment session, the user may wash the area to remove any dirt, oils, or lotions that could interfere with adhesion.

How to Operate the Unit

Operating a TENS unit is a straightforward process. To start, the user must apply the pads on the target areas. Then, they may turn the unit on. They may customise the frequency and intensity levels, depending on their tolerance. It is best to start on low settings to avoid sudden shocks.

Generally, people use TENS for about 15 to 30 minutes per session. This may vary depending on some factors, but it is ideal to take breaks after 30 minutes to prevent adverse events from occurring. Once the treatment session is completed, the user may turn the device off and remove the electrodes.

A newscaster reporting about TENS

Benefits of TENS Machine for Constipation

TENS units are growing in popularity due to their effectiveness. There are many benefits to using a TENS machine for constipation. Firstly, TENS is a non-invasive method of electrical stimulation therapy. This removes the risks of infections and complications from procedures like incisions and injections. In addition, unlike bowel surgery, no recovery period is needed after TENS use.

Secondly, TENS machines do not require the use of medications. This allows the individual to become less dependent on medication. This is also true for those who have chronic constipation and wish to lessen their intake of medicine to avoid its adverse effects. Thirdly, TENS is complementary to other medical treatments. This is why many physical therapists and doctors include TENS therapy as an effective treatment modality.

Fourthly, TENS is easy to self-administer. This provides convenient relief for constipated patients. It can also help save on costs by reducing visits to medical professionals. Lastly, TENS can trigger endorphin production, which can alleviate stress and improve moods, leading to an improved quality of life.

Clinical Studies and Evidences

Some clinical studies have shown that TENS can be an effective treatment for chronic constipation. By using the TENS unit for sacral nerve stimulation, some have observed improved frequency and ease of bowel motion. Furthermore, using TENS to improve muscle contractions of the abdominal wall also aids in overcoming slow transit constipation.

In addition, many have found TENS a safe and well-tolerated treatment option for constipation. A systematic review has found that TENS can help accelerate colonic transit and has beneficial effects on functional constipation. Nevertheless, consulting a medical professional before using TENS remains recommended.


A TENS machine for constipation is a helpful tool that can help individuals with their bowel function. TENS can provide electrical stimulation that alleviates discomfort and improves bowel transit time. It uses low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the abdominal wall or the sacral nerve fibres for successful treatment. To use one, the individual must apply the TENS pads on the lower abdomen or the lower back. Afterwards, they may turn the machine on and adjust the settings accordingly.

Constipation is a prevalent condition and affects adults and children alike. Fortunately, TENS can provide various benefits to its users. It is a non-invasive and drug-free method that induces natural relief from the clinical symptoms of constipation. Furthermore, it is safe for many to use and complements other treatment methods. Those interested in a wireless TENS unit may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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