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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine for Knee Pain: How to Use it for Effective Relief

A person with knee pain

A TENS machine for knee pain is a treatment method for reducing discomfort caused by an injury or medical condition. It is a small device that uses low-voltage electrical currents and stimulates the nerves. You may place it near the pain area and adjust the currents based on your comfort level. As a result, it can reduce the symptoms after a few minutes. Moreover, it is suitable for various kinds of body aches or ailments.

Knee pain can be a hindrance to doing daily activities. It can make simple tasks like walking or climbing stairs difficult. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-drug and non-invasive method of relieving pain. It is a suitable alternative for those who want to lessen their intake of oral medicines. In this article, we will talk about what a TENS machine is and how it can help relieve knee pain.

What is a TENS Machine for Knee Pain?

A TENS machine is a battery-operated unit consisting of electrode pads. It sends electrical impulses through the skin to reach the targeted nerves. The stimulation causes the nerves to hinder pain signals going to the brain by blocking their passageway in the spinal cord. Additionally, it induces the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. 

TENS has been used in physiotherapy to treat various types of pain, including knee pain. This condition often occurs due to sudden injuries or an underlying condition. The severity may depend on the cause of the problem. The symptoms include swelling and stiffness, warm sensation, weakness, instability when moving, and pain when straightening the knee. 

Using a TENS machine for knee pain also boosts circulation to the area. It helps lessen inflammation and relaxes the surrounding muscles. The increased blood flow brings in more oxygen which helps the nerves, tissues, and muscles to heal and regrow faster. In addition, it is efficient in managing pain for those who do not require surgery or recovering from a medical operation. 

Common Causes of Knee Pain

  • Injury – A portion of the meniscus can tear and float in the knee joint due to an injury or trauma.
  • Dislocation – When a severe impact to the knee and lower leg occurs, it might become totally dislocated from the upper leg portion. Ligaments, arteries, and nerves can be stretched and torn. A dislocation is a limb-threatening severe condition that necessitates rapid medical treatment.
  • Tendinitis – inflammation of the tendon that causes aches and soreness. 
  • Bursitis – irritation of one or more of the bursae near the knee joint. 
  • Arthritis – swelling in the joints that cause pain and stiffness. 

iTENS small wings and refill pads

How To Use a TENS Machine for Knee Pain

Many people prefer a TENS machine for knee pain because it is easy to operate. The device is portable and can be used at home. To start treatment, first clean the skin around the knee where the electrodes will be placed. Then, position the pads accordingly and turn on the machine. Start at the lowest level and slowly increase the intensity. 

Typically, the pad placement should be around the kneecap. Avoid placing the electrodes directly on the knee or joints, as it may cause more discomfort, and it may not be as effective. It also depends on the number of pads you need to utilise. You may place two or four pads above, below, or on either side of the knee. 

The pulse rates and width are adjustable based on the pain level. For best results, you may consult your healthcare provider in determining the appropriate settings. Finding the right stimulation levels is essential to attain optimal results. Moreover, TENS machines come with pre-set modes. In selecting a unit, you may check if the device has a treatment for knee conditions. 

Types of TENS Machine

The efficiency of TENS pain management also depends on the type and quality of the device. It has two main types, standard and wireless. A standard or traditional device has wired electrodes connected to a handheld controller. It has dials or buttons to adjust the frequency and intensity levels or select a pre-set program. 

On the other hand, a wireless TENS machine, like the iTENS, does not utilise lead cables. Instead, it is Bluetooth-capable to connect remotely to a smartphone. Hence, users can control their treatment from an app. It eliminates limited movement that a person may get with wired devices.

Operating a TENS machine through the smartphone app

TENS Machine for Knee Pain Safety Guidelines

It is vital to use a TENS machine for knee pain properly to get the most effective results and avoid risks. Firstly, the device should be used as directed by a healthcare professional or as instructed in the user manual. Secondly, the TENS pads should be positioned correctly. Avoid placing the electrodes on the joints or bony areas. 

Thirdly, the increase in the intensity of the electrical impulses should be gradual. This procedure allows the body to adjust to the stimulation and prevent discomfort. It also should not exceed the recommended levels. Moreover, place the pads on a clean surface. Do not use TENS on irritated or infected skin and open wounds.

An average treatment session last for 30 minutes to one hour. Avoid overusing the TENS machine to prevent overstimulation or further damage to the muscles or nerves. In addition, ensure the device is off before placing and removing the pads. This helps avoid the risks of mild shocks or electrocution. Lastly, do not use TENS while bathing, driving, or sleeping. 

Are There Risks?

Despite being generally safe, some risks and side effects are associated with using TENS machines. Knowing these risks can help prevent or manage them cautiously. The common side effects include skin irritations or allergic reactions due to the adhesive electrode pads. If irritations start to occur, remove the pads and clean the skin area with mild soap and water. 

TENS is not advisable for people with epilepsy, heart conditions, and cardiac pacemakers. Likewise, pregnant women must avoid using TENS without medical advice. Finally, avoid sensitive areas like the head, front or sides of the neck, chest, and backbone. 


A TENS machine for knee pain can help alleviate painful symptoms brought about by various conditions. It enables individuals to manage pain without medicines and avoid adverse side effects. Furthermore, it is a non-invasive pain relief method that can be combined with other remedies. The device is easy to use and requires a few simple steps. It involves correct pad placement, adjusting the settings, and treatment duration. A person may feel immediate pain relief lasting several minutes to hours.

TENS therapy is generally safe with zero to minimal risks. Nevertheless, it is vital to know the safety precautions in using the device. It involves not turning the stimulation levels too high and avoiding sensitive areas. Therefore, following the usage guidelines help manage chronic knee pain and other conditions effectively. You may purchase a TENS unit online without a prescription, such as the wireless iTENS at iTENS Australia.

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