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Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Massager: How Does It Work to Relieve Pain?

Man holding his nape and lower back

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS massager is a device that can relieve pain by using mild electrical pulses. It works by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. It can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers the body produces. Moreover, TENS can help boost blood circulation in the targeted area, aiding the healing process. It is effective for both acute and chronic pain conditions.

Engaging in work and physical activities can result in discomfort and pain by the end of the day. Carrying heavy objects, repetitive motions, or being stationary can stiffen the muscles. TENS pulse massager is one of the effective ways to lessen body aches and discomfort. This device can help individuals relieve pain without going to a massage therapist. This article will provide information on a TENS pulse massager, including its functionality and proper usage.

What Is a TENS Massager?

A TENS massager is an electrotherapy device that combines the functions of electrical nerve stimulation and massage therapy for comprehensive pain management. It sends electric currents through the skin to reach the sensory nerves. It has a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mA. TENS pulse massagers are commonly used in hospitals and therapy clinics. However, they are now available in pharmacies and online stores.

Generally, there are two variants of electrotherapy massagers: wired and wireless. Wired units are also known as handheld or traditional TENS. Health professionals commonly use these to help their patients with rehabilitation. This type of TENS uses lead cables to connect the controller to the electrode pads.

Meanwhile, wireless TENS remove the restrictions of wires by using Bluetooth technology. Many find these convenient because they remove the required setup with traditional units. In addition, they are portable and often equipped with more preset modes. Furthermore, they replace the need for controllers by allowing a smartphone app to control the electrodes.

Benefits of Electrical Stimulation

  • Induces the receptors in the brain to decrease the priority of pain signals. This results in lesser pain perception.
  • Delivers more oxygen into the affected area, accelerating the healing of injuries, such as minor strains.
  • Prompts the release of more endorphins.
  • Improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation.
  • Relaxes the muscles that compress the nerves and joints, which contributes to sciatica and arthritis.
  • Restores the range of motion.
  • Retrains and facilitates faster regrowth of damaged nerves.
  • Loosens tense muscles and reduces painful muscle spasms.
  • Helps treat acute pain conditions like a muscle sprain or strain, post-surgery, or fractures.

Small and large iTENS wing kits

How Does a TENS Massager Work?

A TENS massager works by sending electrical impulses through electrodes that are placed near the site of pain. These impulses produce two general responses from the body, particularly the central nervous system. The first method is based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. During TENS treatment, the pain gate mechanism in the spinal cord closes. Thus, it blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain using high-frequency pulses.

Another function of TENS is to induce the endogenous opioid system. Low-frequency stimulation triggers the release of endorphins. They are natural painkillers that work by inhibiting pain messages sent to the brain. As a result, the user will feel less pain. The same impulses can also give relaxing or massaging effects. The intensity is adjustable to suit various pain levels.

Furthermore, the use of TENS creates a positive effect on the circulatory system. The electrical pulses or mild vibrations boost blood circulation in the affected area. This helps to reduce inflammation, relax the muscles, and promote faster recovery of damaged tissues and nerve regeneration.

Different Types of Devices Available

There are different types of electrotherapy devices for pain management and rehabilitation. Firstly, a TENS machine delivers low-voltage electrical pulses to the body through electrodes placed on the skin. Secondly, the Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) device. It sends electrical stimulation to target muscles to help improve muscle strength, prevent muscle atrophy, and enhance muscle re-education.

Thirdly, the Interferential Current (IFC) machine. It uses two medium-frequency electrical currents to provide pain relief, reduce muscle spasms, and promote tissue healing. Fourthly, the Microcurrent Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulator (MENS) device. It delivers extremely low-level electrical currents to stimulate healing and pain relief at the cellular level.

Workflow on how to operate the iTENS app

How to Use a TENS Massager to Relieve Pain

To use a TENS massager, start by positioning the electrode pads to the sore area. They are easy to operate, and people can use them within seconds. Make sure the pads are securely attached and evenly spaced. Next, turn on the machine and adjust the intensity to the lowest level. Gradually increase the intensity until it reaches the desired effects.

Low-frequency stimulation is most effective for muscle relaxation. The electrical impulses are gentle yet firm enough to relax the muscles at this level. In addition, higher frequencies can give more vigorous massage-like effects. The strength and interval of pulses may vary, depending on the settings. Each session should last for 10 to 15 minutes.

Furthermore, some devices have various pre-set massage modes for convenient use. This helps users stimulate the nerves and muscles quickly and easily. After usage, turn off the device and carefully remove the pads. Store the device properly and keep it away from water or extreme temperatures.

Understanding the Different Settings

A TENS machine has settings that help customise the therapy experience. Users can adjust the pulse rate. This rate is a measure of how often the electrical pulses travel through the skin. It is typically expressed in hertz or cycles per second. Another setting is the pulse duration, which is the time or width of each electrical pulse.

Moreover, a TENS machine offers different waveforms. It refers to the shape as seen on a graph of amplitude versus time. Various waveforms target specific body areas and address diverse therapy needs. Users should be mindful not to set the intensity too high to avoid overstimulation.


In conclusion, a TENS massager combines electrical nerve stimulation and massage therapy for effective pain management. It operates by sending electrical impulses through electrodes near the pain site, blocking pain signals. Additionally, it can trigger the release of endorphins. TENS also improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, and helps muscles relax, speeding up recovery. Whether wired or wireless, TENS pulse massagers offer a convenient solution for pain relief, now available in pharmacies and online stores.

Using the device is simple. Place the pads on the sore area and ensure they are securely attached. Start at a low intensity and slowly increase it for the desired effects. Low-frequency stimulation helps relax muscles, while higher frequencies provide a more invigorating massage. Each session lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to overstimulate by setting the intensity too high. To ensure the device lasts, store it properly away from water or extreme temperatures.

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