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

TENS Machine Sprained Ankle: A Guide On How To Use The Unit

A man grimacing in pain while holding his ankle

When dealing with a sprained ankle, using a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine can help alleviate pain. To properly use the unit, start by identifying and cleaning the treatment area on the ankle. Next, apply the electrodes to the area, making sure they are securely in place. Turn on the unit and adjust the settings to a comfortable level. By following these steps, individuals can effectively use a TENS machine for sprained ankle.

There are several methods to treat a sprained ankle, such as rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), physical therapy, and medication. Using a TENS machine can provide additional relief and support in the healing process. It is non-invasive and drug-free, making it a safe option. This article will provide more information about the TENS device for sprained ankle, including its mechanism of action, proper usage, and safety guidelines.

How a TENS Machine for Sprained Ankle Work to Provide Relief

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint stretch or tear. This often causes pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the ankle. It usually happens when someone suddenly twists or turns their foot during physical activity. Tight muscles around the ankle can also increase the risk of spraining it. Individuals with this common injury may experience a limited range of motion, which affects daily activities.

A TENS machine for sprained ankle works by sending mild electrical currents through electrode patches. The electrical pulse rate or frequency is adjustable to suit different needs or preferences. Low-pulse currents (10 Hz and below) cause the nerves to become less sensitive. They can trigger the release of endorphins, which is ideal for chronic pain relief. Furthermore, low vibrations give massaging effects.”

Meanwhile, high-pulse currents (50-120 Hz) stimulate the sensory nerves to block pain. It is often characterised by strong but comfortable sensations, making it suitable for people with acute pain. It also has an analgesic effect on activity-induced musculoskeletal pain and fatigue and increases mobility.

Mechanisms of Action

  • Gate Control Theory of Pain – this theory suggests that there are nerve fibres in the spinal cord that act as “gates” and control the transmission of pain signals. When external stimuli like electric currents from the medical device are provided, these neural gates restrict the pain signals. High-frequency TENS can activate this mechanism.
  • Natural Opioids System – the body produces natural opioids like enkephalins and endorphins in the brain, which then circulate throughout the body. These natural painkillers are released during activities such as exercise, massage, eating, or sexual intercourse. Low-frequency TENS can help induce the release of higher levels of endorphins.

Step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app


How to Use a TENS Machine for Sprained Ankle

Using a TENS machine for sprained ankle is one of the effective pain relief methods. However, proper operation is necessary to maximise its benefits and minimise potential risks. To start, identify the area where pain is present. Refer to the instructions on the manual guide or a physical therapist for the correct electrode placement.

After determining the position of the electrode patches, place them directly on or near the pain site. Make sure to fully attach them, as they may fall off during use. Most electronic devices have adjustable settings and timer functions. Start with low settings and gradually increase until there is a tingling sensation in the muscle. Check from time to time for signs of skin irritation.

The typical duration of stimulation for pain relief is 20-30 minutes. When the treatment session is complete, turn off the electrical stimulation device and remove the electrode pads. Those with preexisting medical conditions or pregnant women must consult a health professional before administering a therapy session to ensure a safe and effective treatment.

Where to Place the Pads?

Proper pad placement is important for effective and safe treatment sessions. To begin, ensure that the skin is clean and dry to guarantee good contact and conductivity of the electrical pulses. Then, position the pads around the injured area to provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort.

Place the pads in a horseshoe shape around the ankle. One pad is on the lateral side and the other is on the medial side. This placement allows for the electrical pulses to effectively target the affected area. Moreover, avoid placing the pads directly over the ankle bone, as this may cause discomfort or irritation.

iTENS small wing kit with written features

Safety Precautions When Using a TENS Machine for Sprained Ankle

Individuals should follow safety precautions when operating a TENS machine for sprained ankle. One of these is to never use the machine near water or while in the bath or shower. This can lead to electrical shock or malfunction of the device. Also, it is important to avoid administering TENS while driving or operating heavy machinery, as it can cause distraction and potentially lead to accidents.

TENS is versatile because it can manage different types of pain aside from sprained ankle. This includes neck pain, nerve pain, and knee joint pain. However, individuals should refrain from placing the pads near the head, throat, or over the heart to prevent any potential adverse effects. Additionally, TENS should not cause pain. Thus, if it brings painful symptoms, they should lower the settings or stop the treatment.

Furthermore, individuals with certain health issues, such as heart conditions, epilepsy, or pregnant women, should consult with a healthcare professional before using a TENS unit. This is to ensure that there are no contraindications or potential risks associated with using the device. Following these allows for safe and effective use of TENS.

Signs to Seek Professional Help

In some cases, a person with a sprained ankle may need to seek medical attention. For instance, if they experience severe pain and swelling in their ankle. Additionally, if the pain does not improve with at-home treatments or if there is a history of recurring ankle sprains.

Moreover, if the swelling persists for an extended period and hinders daily activities. A doctor may recommend medications, physical therapy and, in severe cases, surgery. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if any of these symptoms or circumstances are present to ensure proper treatment and recovery.


A TENS machine offers effective relief for sprained ankles by delivering mild electrical currents through electrode patches. It works by targeting nerves to reduce sensitivity and block pain signals, aiding in both chronic and acute pain situations. Proper electrode placement and intensity adjustment are crucial for optimal results. Users should follow instructions carefully. With consistent and proper use, a TENS machine for sprained ankle can be a valuable tool in managing pain.

When using TENS device for a sprained ankle, safety precautions are crucial to prevent complications or adverse effects. Never use it near water, while driving, or if it causes pain. Consulting a healthcare professional is essential, especially for those with underlying health conditions. If severe pain, swelling, or limited mobility persists despite home treatments, seeking medical help is necessary for proper care. By following these guidelines, individuals can ensure safer and more effective management of sprained ankles.

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