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

TENS Machine for Slipped Disc: Does It Really Work?

A man clutching his lower back due to pain

A slipped disc occurs when the soft cushions between the vertebrae of the spine bulge or rupture. It can cause mild to severe pain, radiating down to the legs. The traditional treatment options are pain medications, physical therapy, and surgery. There are also alternative options, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for slipped disc, which effectively alleviate pain from the condition. Moreover, it can aid in reducing inflammation and improving healing by increasing blood circulation.

TENS therapy is growing in popularity due to its non-invasive and drug-free approach to providing pain relief. Moreover, it is effective for many medical conditions, making it a worthwhile investment. It is an effective solution for addressing pain symptoms that could decrease the quality of life. This article will present information on TENS devices, how they work, and how to use them for slipped discs.

What is a TENS Machine for Slipped Disc?

A slipped or herniated disc is a condition wherein one of the discs between the vertebrae in the spine becomes damaged and moves out of its normal position. There are many causes for it, and it can cause debilitating pain. Moreover, it can cause numbness and weakness in the affected area since it puts pressure on the surrounding nerves. An increasingly popular method people use to replace taking painkilling medication for this condition is TENS therapy.

A TENS machine for slipped disc is a battery-operated device that uses externally applied electrode pads to deliver low-voltage electric currents to the body. It is often seen in medical settings because of its clinical application of providing temporary but effective pain relief. People also use these machines in their homes for on-demand pain relief of disc pain.

There is a wide range of TENS products available on the market. People may select from traditional or wireless units, depending on their preferences and needs. Traditional units are typically less expensive than the more advanced wireless units. However, there are also several benefits to using wireless TENS machines.

Causes of Slipped Disc

  • Age: slipped discs become more common as the person ages since the protective covering keeping them in place also wears away with time.
  • Body weight: overweight individuals are more likely to experience the condition since their muscles have increased pressure to support them.
  • Repetitive movements: frequent twisting or lifting can cause lower back strain that may also cause a herniated disc. Hence, those who regularly lift heavy objects without practising proper posture are at higher risk for acute injury.
  • Weak muscles: regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles and prevent disc conditions. However, weak muscles may falter even from normal activities.

A female reporter presenting news about TENS

How Does a TENS Machine for Slipped Disc Work?

A TENS machine for slipped discs works by adjusting the settings for electrical currents to stimulate the sensory nerves. This can trigger mechanisms for alleviating pain and improving the overall condition. One of these is the pain gate mechanism. This works by triggering the spinal nerve cells to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This is the process suggested in the Gate Control Theory of Pain, which suits acute pain treatment.

Another way TENS units alleviate pain is by inducing the release of endorphins. These are natural painkillers that bind to the opioid receptors and reduce the overall pain intensity. Moreover, these can also improve moods and promote a sense of well-being. It can relieve stress, which is ideal for those who have chronic pain conditions.

TENS therapy can also improve blood circulation. It can increase blood flow to the target area, making it easier for the injuries to heal. Moreover, this can help relieve sore muscles and reduce the occurrence of muscle spasms. It can also lessen inflammation and help patients increase their mobility.

Low and High Frequencies

TENS devices have adjustable settings that allow users to customise their treatments. Using different frequencies can create different effects. Low-frequency stimulation ranges between two and ten Hertz (Hz). This induces motor nerve stimulation that triggers the production of endogenous opioids.

Meanwhile, high-frequency stimulation works at about 50 to 120 Hz. They can cause the interruption of pain signals that work well with addressing injuries that cause sudden pain. However, it is essential to note that frequent use of higher frequencies may cause the person to develop a tolerance to electrical stimulation. Hence, using alternating frequencies is another option.

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How to Use a TENS Machine for Slipped Disc

Using a TENS machine for slipped disc is a straightforward process. Nevertheless, practising safety precautions is crucial for effective treatment. Hence, it is advised to consult a medical professional before using any electrotherapy device. Studying the instruction manual can also help individuals understand how to properly use their devices.

To start, connect the electrodes to the control unit using wires or Bluetooth, depending on the device. Then, the user must apply the electrodes to the target area. Afterwards, they may turn on the unit and modify the settings according to their comfort level. It is best to start with low settings to avoid electrical shocks or discomfort.

TENS therapy sessions usually last between 15 to 30 minutes. However, this may vary depending on the settings and overall health condition. Moreover, they may set a timer to avoid exceeding the prescribed limit. After the time runs out, they must turn the machine off and remove the electrodes. They should clean and store the adhesive electrode pads in a cool and dry place for future use.

Where to Place the Electrodes?

Correct electrode placement is crucial for an effective TENS therapy session. Generally, users apply the pads on muscles near or on the source of pain. For a slipped disc, the individual may place pads on both or either side of the back, parallel to the spine. However, they must be careful and avoid applying them too closely to the spinal cord.

Furthermore, they should maintain at least an inch distance when using multiple pads. This can help prevent interference from occurring between them. Users should also avoid skin patches that are numb, irritated, or infected since electrical stimulation could worsen them.


A TENS machine for slipped disc is an effective option for those who wish to alleviate their pain from this condition. It is a small, battery-operated device that uses electrode pads to deliver electrical pulses to the sensory nerves. At different frequencies, this can trigger mechanisms for pain relief, such as the pain gate mechanism and the production of endorphins. This can provide versatile relief that can help increase their quality of life.

Another advantage of using TENS is its simple operation method. The user must apply the electrodes to the target area and alter the settings accordingly. They may even select an available pre-set mode for convenience. However, it is also essential to consult a healthcare professional to ensure safety. They can advise on how to use the unit and maximise the effects. They may even give product recommendations. Those interested in a wireless unit may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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