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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Machine for Pain Control: What It Is and How It Works

Large iTENS wing gel pads

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for pain control is a battery-operated device that provides pain relief. It sends mild electrical impulses through electrodes that can help block pain signals from reaching the brain. Additionally, the TENS machine can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of the body. This device is a popular choice for individuals seeking a drug-free and convenient solution for pain control.

Pain management involves oral medications, physical exercise, and TENS therapy. Many people choose analgesics because they are convenient and inexpensive. However, long-term use of oral painkillers carries the potential for harmful side effects. Moreover, their effectiveness can decrease over time as the body develops tolerance to them. In contrast, using a TENS machine is a natural and non-toxic approach to pain control. This article will provide information on TENS devices for pain control, including their functionality and correct usage.

What is a TENS Machine for Pain Control?

A TENS machine for pain control is an electronic device that helps relieve pain by delivering electrical impulses through electrode pads placed on the skin. These mild electrical stimulation target the sensory nerves in the treated area and reduce pain signals. Many studies have shown that TENS therapy is effective in alleviating different types of acute and chronic pain conditions.

There are two main types of TENS units: wired and wireless. Wired devices have electrode pads connected to the device using lead cables. Health professionals often use these devices in clinical settings. On the other hand, wireless devices like iTENS offer the same pain relief benefits. These units are compact and portable. Moreover, people can easily control these units through a smartphone app or manual controls.

When using a TENS unit, individuals can program the settings according to their specific needs. This means they can adjust parameters such as pulse frequency, pulse duration, and electrical pulse intensity. These adjustments allow for personalisation to effectively target specific pain areas and achieve the best treatment outcomes.

Conditions It Can Treat

  • Acute pain condition: a sudden and intense pain that typically lasts for a short period of time. This includes post-surgery pain, fractures, broken bones, labour pain, muscle pain, and period pain.
  • Chronic pain condition: it refers to ongoing pain that persists for more than three months, even after the initial injury or illness has healed. These include conditions such as sciatica, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder and bursitis.
  • Body aches: it can be a general feeling of soreness or localised pain in specific areas. This includes pain in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, hips, thighs, hands, or feet.

A woman using iTENS on her arm and lower back

How a TENS Machine for Pain Control Works

A TENS machine for pain control works based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. This theory proposes that the electrical currents from the TENS electrical device disrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. By using high-frequency electrical impulses ranging from 50 to 150 Hz, the machine can effectively manage acute pain in adults.

Additionally, TENS therapy can trigger the release of endorphins, the natural pain relievers in the body. The TENS machine achieves this by using low-frequency electrical stimulation, ranging from 2 to 5 Hz. This release of endorphins is particularly beneficial for those dealing with chronic pain in people. It offers a more sustainable pain solution.

Furthermore, some TENS machines can boost blood circulation by delivering electrical impulses to the muscles of the body. This action aids in muscle contraction and relaxation, promoting healthy muscle performance and further relieving pain signals. Overall, the combination of these mechanisms makes TENS therapy an effective analgesic method for pain management.

Advantages of Using the Device Over Other Treatment Methods

The TENS device offers several advantages over other forms of pain relief. It is non-invasive, meaning it does not require any needles or surgery. The adjustable settings of the device also allow for personalised treatment. Additionally, this targeted form of pain relief can help reduce pain messages in individuals without lasting side effects.

Furthermore, the TENS device is a drug-free method of pain relief, making it non-addictive and safe for long-term use. It provides a comfortable intensity of stimulation through the use of electrode patches. Lastly, the machine is portable, making it convenient to use at home or on the go.

A workflow on how to operate the iTENS app

How to Use a TENS Machine for Pain Control

People can use a TENS machine for pain control in a few simple steps. To begin, they should clean and dry the area of the skin where they will apply the electrodes. It is crucial to ensure that the skin is free from any lotions, oils, or creams. These substances may interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment.

After preparing the skin, the person should carefully place the TENS electrodes on the chosen area. In addition, they need to make sure to space the pads evenly for the best pain relief. Also, the user can adjust the intensity based on their comfort level. Medical professionals recommend starting with a low setting and increasing gradually if needed.

After the session, individuals have to remove the electrodes slowly, peeling them off the skin gently to avoid any discomfort. Moreover, it is advisable to clean the pads after each use and store them properly to ensure their longevity. By following these steps, people can effectively manage their pain and experience relief with the help of a TENS unit.

Proper Pad Placement

The proper electrode placement for using a TENS device is essential for safety and effectiveness. Individuals should position the electrode pads directly over or on either side of the painful area. They have to make sure that the currents are directed toward the centre of the most painful part.

It is crucial to remember that the electrode patches should never be placed on the head, spine, or the front or sides of the neck. This is important for the safety of the user as it may cause harm to these sensitive areas. These safety measures are vital for comfortable and effective TENS therapy.


In conclusion, the TENS machine for pain control is a portable tool that manages pain through electrical impulses. By disrupting pain signals and triggering the release of endorphins, it provides relief for both acute and chronic pain. The ability to personalise settings allows users to target specific areas, offering a tailored approach. With its compact design and wireless options, TENS machines offer a convenient and accessible solution for individuals seeking effective pain management.

Using a TENS machine involves simple steps. Cleaning and drying the skin, proper electrode placement, and adjusting intensity ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Users should start with a low setting and gradually increase if necessary. Proper pad removal, cleaning, and storage contribute to the longevity of the device. By following these guidelines, individuals can harness the benefits of TENS therapy. Online stores like iTENS Australia provide TENS units with wireless and rechargeable features.

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