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 Machine for Piriformis Syndrome: Proper Usage Guide for Effective Pain Relief

A large wing iTENS electrode and two refill gel packs

Piriformis syndrome is a condition wherein the muscles in the buttocks compress the sciatic nerve. It causes pain and numbness in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. Many use heating pads and pain medication to help with this condition. Another method is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). To use a TENS machine for piriformis syndrome, the user places electrode pads on or near the pain source. This is usually on the lower back or thighs. Then, they may adjust the settings.

TENS therapy is non-invasive and drug-free, making it an ideal pain management method for many people. They can use high and low frequencies to trigger endorphin production or pain gating. However, consulting a medical professional is recommended to ensure safety. They can help ensure that TENS suits the health condition. This article will present how a TENS machine works, how to use it, and some safety considerations.

How Does a TENS Machine for Piriformis Syndrome Work?

Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The common symptoms for this are aches or numbness in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. For many, this condition will fade after the swelling or injury of the piriformis muscle heals. However, it can still cause significant pain and discomfort. Moreover, it can affect mobility, which decreases quality of life.

Fortunately, using a TENS machine for piriformis syndrome is a viable treatment option. TENS units work by sending low-voltage electrical pulses to the body. Using high-frequency stimulation triggers spinal nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This is the pain gate mechanism described in the Gate Control theory of Pain. It takes effect quickly, making it ideal for acute pain conditions. This also has a massage-like effect that increases blood flow to the area.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation triggers endorphin production. This hormone is a natural painkiller that builds up and results in a decrease in pain levels. Many people use it for chronic pain conditions. Moreover, endorphins can help reduce inflammation, which can help in recovering mobility and speed up healing.

Main Benefits of the Treatment

  • Non-invasive: TENS therapy does not use invasive methods like injections or incisions. This removes complications like post-injection sciatic pain.
  • Drug-free: using a TENS unit does not require medicine intake. It is a safe, non-addictive painkiller alternative.
  • Portable: many TENS devices have compact and lightweight designs, which allows users to use them whenever needed.
  • Adjustable: TENS devices have adjustable settings for users to customise their treatment. This can help minimise discomfort and enable the user to adjust to the stimulation.
  • Versatile: TENS also works for other pain issues, such as knee pain, foot muscle pain, and joint pain.

A person removing the film on an adhesive

How to Use a TENS Machine for Piriformis Syndrome

Using a TENS machine for piriformis syndrome is a straightforward process. However, it is recommended to study the instruction manual from the device manufacturer to ensure safe use. Before starting, the user should clean the skin with soap and water. This removes excess body oils, lotion, and dirt, allowing the electrode pads to adhere to the skin better.

Then, the individual may place the adhesives near or on the pain area. Once they are secure, they may turn the machine on. Starting on the lowest setting is best to avoid sudden shocks, muscle spasms, or discomfort. Afterwards, they can gradually increase the settings, depending on their tolerance and health condition. Some also have preset programs tailored for specific conditions and advanced features like massage functions.

TENS therapy sessions typically last between 20 to 30 minutes. This may vary depending on the settings used. To help keep track of time, users may set a timer. This is crucial because overusing the machine may result in skin irritation, mild burns, and muscle and nerve damage. When the time elapses, the user should turn the machine off and remove the electrodes.

Proper Electrode Pad Placement

Proper electrode placement is crucial for the electrical impulses to reach the target sensory nerves. Generally, the ideal locations are muscle areas near or on the origin of pain. Users may place the electrode on the lower back while carefully avoiding the spinal cord for piriformis syndrome. In addition, they may place pads on the thighs.

It is crucial to leave at least an inch distance to prevent interference when using multiple pads. Moreover, they must evade areas like bones and joints. People may select from the various shapes and sizes of electrode pads available for maximum relief.

A woman holding the back of her thigh

Safety Considerations When Using a TENS Machine for Piriformis Syndrome

Before using a TENS machine for piriformis syndrome, seeking medical advice from a health professional is recommended. They help ensure the overall health condition of the individual suits TENS therapy. Some risk factors can have adverse reactions to electrotherapy. Hence, consulting a doctor or physical therapist is vital.

Furthermore, users must remain alert during their session. They must avoid sleeping or engaging in safety-sensitive activities that require concentration. This includes driving and operating heavy machinery. This can help prevent accidents and ensure the person does not exceed the prescribed duration. In addition, avoid contact with water since it may cause shocks that damage the device and harm the user.

Moreover, ensure the device is in good condition. If using handheld units, check if there are breaks on the wires. During this time, individuals may also replace the adhesives if needed. Lastly, lower the intensity settings or stop the session if the user is feeling excessive tingling sensations and muscle twitching.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Some individuals have health conditions that negatively react to electric stimulation. This includes those with a history of heart disease, epilepsy, seizures, and cancer. People with metal and electric implants, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, should also refrain from using TENS. This is because the electric currents may cause their implants to malfunction.

Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid using TENS since it may cause uterine contractions. However, they may consult their doctors regarding using it during labour. Lastly, some may experience allergic reactions due to the materials in the adhesives or the electrode pads themselves.


Using a TENS machine for piriformis is an effective method for alleviating the buttock pain, hip pain, and leg pain it can cause. It is easy to self-administer and has minimal side effects when used properly. TENS works by triggering endorphin production and the pain-gating mechanism. Those with piriformis syndrome can benefit from this by placing pads on the lower back or thighs and adjusting the settings to their comfort levels.

Nevertheless, consulting a medical professional is recommended before using TENS. They may ensure that electrotherapy is safe for the individual to use and advise on how to maximise the effects of TENS. They may even provide product recommendations for the patient. Those interested in a wireless TENS unit may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia. It is an FDA-cleared unit that has wing-shaped electrode pads and a smartphone application.

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.