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

TENS Machine for Lymphatic Drainage: Overview

A person massaging the back of the neck

The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in the ability of the body to remove toxins and wastes. It also helps to maintain a healthy immune system. Thus, when congested, it can result in uncomfortable symptoms like swelling and pain. One of the innovative methods to flush out toxins is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). A TENS machine for lymphatic drainage uses mild electrical currents to reduce the associated pain and boost circulation.

Lymphatic drainage is a therapeutic technique that stimulates tissue fluids back into the system. It is often referred to as a “massage” because it involves hand movements. However, it is different from aromatherapy massage. One effective tool that can enhance the benefits of lymphatic drainage is a TENS machine. In this article, we will provide an overview of what a TENS machine is, how it works, and how to use the device.

What is a TENS Machine for Lymphatic Drainage?

A TENS machine is a battery-operated device that sends low-voltage electrical currents through electrodes placed on the skin. The main purpose of TENS is to relieve pain symptoms from various acute and chronic pain conditions. However, it can also provide other benefits to the body, such as increasing blood flow and improving the range of motion.

The device consists of a power unit with adjustable settings. This allows users to control the delivery of electrical impulses according to their preferences or comfort level. Therefore, it can provide customised pain relief. Moreover, the pulses can be modified to give massaging effects. This helps relax the muscles, easing soreness and inflammation.

The TENS machine for lymphatic drainage comes in several types. The most common type is the standard or wired TENS unit. It is a traditional handheld device with cables connecting the electrode pads. The other type is the wireless TENS machine. The electrodes attach directly to a compact power generator, eliminating the need for cords. In addition, the features may vary with each model, such as preset modes, timers, and intensity levels.

Things to Consider Before Starting the Treatment

  • Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if TENS is the right treatment or how to use the device properly.
  • Be aware of contraindications or risks associated with electrical stimulation. TENS therapy is not suitable for people with heart problems, epilepsy, cardiac pacemakers, and pregnant women.
  • Using a TENS machine near a blood clot may increase the risk of dislodging the clot.
  • Do not put the surface electrodes on sensitive parts, such as the head, throat, and chest, to prevent any potential harm or discomfort.
  • TENS therapy can provide temporary pain relief but is not a cure for any condition.

Small and large TENS machines with refill gel pads at iTENS Australia

How a TENS Machine for Lymphatic Drainage Works

A TENS machine for lymphatic drainage works by delivering small electric pulses through the skin for nerve and cell stimulation. The pulses cause the muscles to contract and relax, increasing the blood circulation in the area. As a result, it moves the lymph fluid more effectively, promoting drainage and reducing swelling and congestion.

Moreover, the electrical stimulation method produces pain-relieving effects. It mainly targets the sensory nerves to block pain signals. Additionally, the electrical sensations from the device help distract the brain from any pain. The TENS machine also promotes faster recovery or healing of damaged nerves or body tissues. Therefore, it helps relieve pain without the aid of medicines.

Additionally, combining TENS therapy with a brushing massage can help enhance the benefits of the treatment. Individuals may apply gentle massage strokes in the direction of lymph flow to reduce fluid retention. Lastly, mild stimulation induces the release of natural painkillers. Overall, it helps reduce pain from various health conditions and promotes better circulation.

Main Theories of TENS

TENS relies on two main theories that explain how it works to provide therapeutic effects. One theory is the Gate Control Theory. It suggests that pain signals travel through nerve fibres. Stimulating these nerves with mild currents can close the nerves in the spinal cord that act as a “gate”, hindering them from reaching the brain.

The second theory is the Endorphin Release Theory. It is said that low-voltage electronic pulses can stimulate the production of endorphins. They are natural chemicals that bind to opioid receptors and inhibit them from releasing pain messages. This can provide pain relief that may last for hours.

Woman wearing a wireless TENS machine on the shoulder and wrist

How to Use a TENS Machine for Lymphatic Drainage

Operating a TENS machine for lymphatic drainage involves a series of steps and strategies. The first step is to identify the target area and position the electrodes accordingly. Individuals may place the pads near swollen limbs or congested areas. Once the electrodes are in place, turn on the unit and adjust the settings.

Users may set a low frequency to release more endorphins. On the other hand, medium frequency current can help penetrate deeper tissues and close the pain gate mechanism. Furthermore, high-frequency electrical impulses cause muscular contractions. Individuals may choose a setting that works best for them or as instructed by a healthcare provider.

It is also vital to start with the lowest intensity level to prevent sudden shocks. Then, increase the intensity in small increments until reaching the most comfortable level. Typically, the electric pulses should feel strong but do not cause further discomfort or pain. Lastly, the treatment duration may last for 30 minutes. After the session, turn off the device before removing the pads.

Safety Guidelines

It is important to follow certain precautions when using a TENS device to prevent potential harm or side effects. One such measure is to ensure that the treatment will not pose further risk to an underlying medical condition. Additionally, do not turn the intensity more than the tolerable range, as this may pose nerve damage or skin irritation.

Moreover, avoid prolonged use or placement of the electrodes on the skin. Using the device for more than one hour may cause skin burns and muscle fatigue. Last but not least, do not use the machine in water, such as showering or swimming.


Using a TENS machine for lymphatic drainage can provide pain relief and promote better circulation. The machine works by stimulating the nerves to block pain signals and distract the brain from pain. It also induces the release of natural painkillers, like endorphins, to provide long-lasting relief. Aside from pain relief, TENS can aid in the faster healing of damaged nerves or tissues due to an injury or operation. Nevertheless, it is best to consult a professional before using the device.

To use a TENS machine, start by identifying the area for electrode placement. Then, adjust the settings, starting with the lowest levels. It is vital to monitor the response of the body to the electrical pulses and make adjustments accordingly. Safety precautions should also be taken to prevent any harm or side effects. Overall, TENS therapy can be a beneficial tool in managing pain and promoting healing without the need for medication for intrusive operations.

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