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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine Voltage: Understanding Low and High Frequencies

A wireless pain relief from iTENS with accessories

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS machine voltage, delivers electrical currents to painful areas of the body, providing relief for a variety of painful conditions. However, the effectiveness of TENS therapy greatly depends on the frequency of the delivery of electrical impulses. It can be low-frequency (LF) or high-frequency (HF). LF is usually common for chronic pain relief, while HF is beneficial for acute pain conditions.

The TENS device has become increasingly popular as a non-invasive pain management tool. It utilises low-level electrical pulses instead of medications or invasive procedures. Thus, it is vital to understand low and high frequencies to optimise TENS therapy. Each frequency setting has its own benefits and applications. Using the appropriate levels can make a significant difference in the treatment outcomes. This article will present more about how low and high-frequency work and general precautions to avoid shocks.

TENS Machine Voltage: How Low-Frequency Works

One popular approach to ease pain from different medical conditions is using a TENS medical device. It utilises electrical currents to stimulate the nerves and interrupt pain signals from reaching the brain. One common setting for TENS machine voltage is the low frequency. This approach enables people to have pain control without the risk of any skin irritation and promotes a more comfortable sensation.

Usually, LF settings help alleviate chronic pain conditions. This includes arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, back, shoulder, neck pain and more. As such, the electrical charge is typically low, below 10 Hertz (Hz), to effectively stimulate the nerves without causing discomfort. The lower the frequency, the deeper the reach of electrical impulses into the body.

Additionally, LF electrical stimulation works by triggering the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers of the body. Endorphins help inhibit the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain and providing relief. Understanding how low-frequency works in a TENS machine is crucial for those suffering from chronic pain, as it offers a non-invasive and drug-free method of pain relief.

Treatable Pain Conditions

The following are the treatable pain conditions using an LF electric nerve stimulation machine:

  • It is a treatment of pain for long-term or chronic conditions that lasts for months.
  • LF setting can treat back, shoulder, and neck pain.
  • It is effective in managing musculoskeletal aches like arthritis, joint soreness, muscle strains, knee pain and spasms.
  • The mode is beneficial for muscle rehabilitation and relaxation. This enables the muscles to regain strength and improve overall function.
  • LF settings increase blood flow and promote healing in conditions like peripheral artery diseases.
  • This can ease phantom pain, stump pain, and other neuropathic pain.

Operating the frequency of TENS through a smartphone app

TENS Machine Voltage: How High-Frequency Treats Pain

The device produces electrical stimulation to provide pain relief. While others utilise LF, another setting is the use of HF in a TENS machine voltage. It delivers electrical impulses in a more maximal approach. Users can feel more electrical current streaming into the body, providing pain relief.

Accordingly, the HF setting is valuable for treating acute pain conditions. It is a type of ache that occurs for a short duration in the human body. This includes strains, sprains, sports injuries, labour pain, period cramps, tension headaches and postoperative pain. It typically delivers frequencies above 50 Hz, which can stimulate sensory nerves more rapidly. This can cause a significant interruption of pain signals.

The HF setting activates the pain gate mechanism based on the Pain Gate Theory. According to this theory, when the body experiences pain and stimulation occurs, these signals close the gate and block the pain signals from reaching the brain. Thus, it reduces the perception of pain and promotes healing. Moreover, physical therapists often use HF to target acute pain and provide relief to people suffering from various ailments.

Potential Side Effects

Transcutaneous stimulation therapy is widely used to provide pain relief. However, using them may have some potential side effects. One possible side effect is skin irritation or discomfort at the site of electrode placement. This can occur when the machine is in a long operation period or at a high intensity.

Another side effect is muscle spasms, which can be uncomfortable for some people. Additionally, it can result in muscle fatigue or soreness after excessive use. It is important to follow the recommended guidelines and consult a healthcare professional to avoid any potential side effects when using a TENS machine.

An elderly woman sitting while pointing the use of TENS

TENS Machine Voltage: General Precautions to Avoid Sudden Shocks

Using a TENS machine voltage can provide relief from pain and promote healing. However, it is important to take general precautions to avoid sudden shocks when using this device. One of the main safety measures is to read the manual and consult with a healthcare professional before using the device. This enables the user to identify if the therapy is suitable for a certain condition.

Furthermore, ensure the device is off before placing electrodes on the pain area. Follow the instructions on how to apply adhesive electrodes correctly. Make sure to avoid applying electrodes over sensitive areas and bony regions. It is also vital to clean the area and free it from oil and lotion.

Start the therapy in the lowest setting and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. Do not begin the treatment in a high setting, as it can lead to strong shocks or sensations. Thus, it is important to find the right balance between effective pain management and overall comfort. Additionally, never use the TENS machine near water, as it can increase the risk of an electrical shock.

Areas to Avoid

When using a TENS machine, it is crucial to be cautious of certain areas to avoid any potential risks. One area to avoid is the sensitive areas. This includes the eyes, mouth, head, and front of the neck. Direct exposure to this may cause nerve damage. Additionally, it is essential to avoid placing the electrodes on open wounds or broken skin, as this can lead to infection or further damage.

Another area to avoid is the chest, especially for individuals who have underlying heart conditions or pacemakers. The electrical stimulation can interfere with the rhythm of the heart and potentially cause harm.


Understanding the low and high frequencies in TENS machine voltage is crucial in meeting therapeutic effects. LF typically ranges below 10 Hz and is common for treating chronic pain conditions. On the other hand, HF provides electrical current above 50 Hz, which is beneficial for alleviating acute pain. Both frequencies have their specific applications and benefits. Thus, it is important to have a clear understanding of how to use them effectively to maximise the benefits of TENS therapy.

Accordingly, LF settings can trigger the release of endorphins, while HF works the pain gate mechanism according to the Gate Control Theory. Nevertheless, it is important to follow the general precautions to avoid adverse effects, specifically electric shocks. Also, it is vital to know what areas to avoid for safe and effective use. TENS machine provides a valuable approach to alleviating pain without the need for other medical treatments.

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