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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine Lower Back – How To Use, Benefits, and Usage Guidelines

Man leaning forward while holding his lower back

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is one of the recommended solutions for lower back pain. It is a therapy that uses low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain. Using a TENS machine for lower back is easy. First is to apply the electrode pads to the pain site and adjust the settings. Through electrical stimulation, it can relax the nerves and muscles and reduce inflammation. It is essential to follow the recommended intensity levels and usage time for effective treatment.

Back pain is one of the most common afflictions many people experience. Strenuous activities can strain the back muscles, causing soreness and injuries. It usually manifests in a deep throbbing or burning sensation, making it difficult or uncomfortable to move. Additionally, it is prevalent for older people and those with manual jobs. In this article, we will explore how to use the TENS machine for back pain relief, the benefits it can provide, and usage guidelines to keep in mind. 

How to Use a TENS Machine for Lower Back

A TENS unit is a portable device with a set of electrode pads. Using a TENS machine for lower back is easy. First, make sure the area is clean and free of oils or lotion. Then, place the electrodes around of area where the pain is located. Typically, the pads are on either side of the spine. In addition, the pads should be one inch apart.

Next, turn on the machine and adjust the settings according to individual needs. Start at the lowest level and gradually increase the intensity. It should be strong enough to feel a tingling sensation. It is essential to follow the instructions of the doctor or manufacturer regarding frequency and intensity levels. 

TENS therapy for back pain may last for 20-30 minutes. This can vary depending on the severity and type of pain. It is advisable to use the TENS machine at least once a day for chronic pain. However, do not overuse the TENS unit. After the session, turn off the machine and remove the electrodes. Clean the pads and store them in a dry place.

How it Works

  •  A TENS machine delivers electrical impulses through the electrodes placed on the skin.
  • The electrical pulses reach the underlying nerves and stimulate them to override the nervous system.
  • The nerves in the spinal cord that act as gate controllers hinder the pain signals going to the brain.
  • Alternatively, at low frequencies, a TENS machine triggers the production of endorphins. They are natural painkillers that inhibit the release of pain messages from the nerve cells.
  • A TENS machine also stimulates the motor neurons. This helps in muscle relaxation and improves blood circulation.
  • Various pulse patterns can be used to achieve analgesic effects. 

Woman in bed with back pain

Benefits of Using a TENS Machine for Lower Back

Using a TENS machine for lower back offers several benefits. Firstly, it provides a non-invasive and drug-free method of pain relief. Many individuals prefer to avoid pain medications because of their side effects. By utilising electrical impulses, it mimics the body’s response to pain without introducing any chemicals. This approach is also non-addictive, eliminating the risk of dependency or substance abuse.

Secondly, a TENS machine is highly customisable. Users can adjust the pulse rates and pulse duration to suit their needs and preferences. This enables tailored treatments, as individuals may experience varying pain intensity. Thirdly, many devices offer pre-set modes, including massage. This aims to reduce inflammation and muscle tension. It also increases flexibility and mobility. 

Lastly, a TENS machine can promote better sleep conditions. Chronic back pain often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to increased stress. By using the device, individuals can experience a soothing and calming effect, which helps reduce stress levels. This can have a positive impact on overall well-being and quality of life. 

Common Back Pain Conditions It Can Treat

TENS therapy can help treat a variety of back pain conditions. It is helpful in treating inflammatory and structural pain. Inflammatory ailments include osteoarthritic painankylosing spondylitis and other joint pains. It can also help with musculoskeletal pain, such as fibromyalgiamuscle spasms, sprains, and strains

Moreover, it can effectively address mechanical or structural problems. This includes spinal cord injury, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and bulging discs in the lower back. These conditions may compress the nerves, leading to sciatic pain. Other conditions TENS can treat are infections that may affect all or one side of the lower back.  

Woman with a wireless TENS machine on the lower back

Safety Precautions When Using a TENS Machine for Lower Back

There are certain safety precautions to take when using a TENS machine for lower back. It includes correct pad placement, settings, and other preventive measures. Firstly, it is vital to identify the proper positioning of electrodes. Do not put the TENS pads directly on the spine, as it may cause discomfort or diminish the effectiveness of the therapy. Similarly, avoid electrode contact on broken skin, open wounds, varicose veins or numb areas.

Secondly, follow the suggested settings. Always start at the lowest setting and slowly increase the stimulation. The currents should feel strong but not painful. If it causes discomfort, reduce the intensity level to a comfortable sensation. Additionally, do not use the device for more than one hour. This may cause skin irritation or hypersensitivity. 

Lastly, regularly check the condition of the electrodes and replace them when necessary. Worn-out or damaged electrodes may not provide an effective treatment and may potentially cause skin irritations. Likewise, broken wires may cause unintended shocks or burns. Fortunately, replacement pads and electrode wires are available at low-cost prices.

When to Seek Medical Help

A TENS machine can help provide temporary relief. However, it is crucial to seek medical help if the pain persists or worsens. In some cases, chronic back pain may be caused by an underlying condition that necessitates professional treatment. It is best to consult a doctor to get a diagnosis and receive proper care.

Furthermore, people with heart conditions, epilepsy, and electrical implanted devices should get medical advice before using a TENS machine. This is because the electrical currents may trigger adverse effects, like seizures or abnormal heart rhythm. Likewise, pregnant women should seek medical advice before using it.


A TENS machine for lower back is a useful tool for managing and reducing back pain symptoms. It is a portable, battery-operated device that offers adjustable settings, pre-set modes, and other safety features. The machine works by sending electric currents through electrodes placed on the skin. This stimulates the sensory nerves to block pain signals and release natural painkillers. It can help treat chronic and acute pain, such as joint pain, muscle pain, and spinal cord injury.

Operating a TENS machine is easy. It involves identifying the correct electrode placement and intensity levels. However, it is essential to follow the instructions to prevent unwanted effects, like skin irritations or discomfort. It is also vital to know when to seek medical help. For safe and effective results, people with severe conditions should consult a medical professional before starting TENS therapy. With the right usage, individuals can safely manage acute and chronic back pain conditions.

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