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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Medical Device – The Need To Know

An elderly woman sitting on a chair while using TENS on her wrist and reading a book

Pain management is a top concern for many individuals who are living with pain. Doctors typically prescribe drugs to treat their concerns. However, an alternative that professionals also trust is a TENS medical device. It is a valuable tool for pain relief that uses electrical currents. The way it works is by stimulating the nerves to block pain signals or trigger the release of endorphins. This is a safe procedure, but practice caution by following instructions.

Medical practitioners have been using TENS for years, but their availability for home use has made them more accessible to the general public. This allows individuals to take control of their pain and improve their overall well-being. Those who experience pain regularly can educate themselves about TENS for optimal results. Thus, the following sections will present its definition, common features, and safety guidelines to keep in mind.

Definition of a TENS Medical Device and How it Works

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive method of pain relief. It utilises sets of electrode pads to send electrical impulses to the body. A TENS medical device is commonly used in pain clinics and by healthcare professionals. People may remember the machines as handheld, but there are wireless units now on the market. This allows them to bring it anywhere and use it anytime.

By delivering a mild electric current, TENS stimulates nerves to block pain transmitters and promote the release of endorphins. Consequently, it helps to modulate central pain mechanisms and alleviate discomfort. Individuals can adjust the electrode placement and settings to target specific areas of the body and provide effective pain relief.

Sensory-level stimulation uses high frequencies at 50-100 Hz. This is suitable for acute pain conditions. People will feel the effects immediately, but they may diminish just as fast. Meanwhile, motor-level stimulation uses low frequencies ranging from 1-10 Hz. This method is appropriate for those with chronic pain conditions. It may take a longer time for the result to be felt, but its effects stay longer in the body.

Treatable Conditions

TENS is highly versatile and can treat a range of conditions. Some of them include:

  • Muscle Pain – This is typically localised to the skeletal muscles and related fascia, ligaments and tendons.
  • Neck Pain – It is a common problem that is usually a result of poor posture or stress. Injuries or underlying medical conditions can also cause this.
  • Cancer Pain – TENS can be used as an adjunct therapy for cancer patients to manage the intensity of pain and enhance their overall quality of life.
  • Postoperative Pain – Using TENS allows patients to recover more comfortably after surgery and potentially reduces the need for opioid-based pain medicines.

A pack of refill gel pads for TENS machines

Features of a TENS Medical Device

The TENS medical device stands out for its unique features. The device consists of electrode pads that people place on specific body parts. Hence, they receive targeted pain management. The pads come in various sizes and shapes. Individuals can buy different kinds, as some are more suitable for large areas like the back. Moreover, they can reuse the electrodes, but they need to maintain them properly for long-term use.

Another feature of a TENS unit is its programmable nature. This allows patients to select the intensity, frequency, and duration that they feel comfortable with. This helps them reach the ideal level of stimulation. The flexibility ensures that the device can be tailored to meet individual preferences and effectively address more medical conditions like osteoarthritis, phantom pain, and primary dysmenorrhea.

Furthermore, TENS devices commonly have rechargeable batteries for uninterrupted use. Additionally, some TENS units come with a timer that patients can set for their treatments. This helps them monitor how long they have been using the machine and ensures that they do not overdo it or cause further damage to their bodies.

How to Operate the Device

Start administering the therapy by ensuring that the device is charged or has fresh batteries. Then, connect the electrode pads to the device using the provided wire connectors. Next, place the electrodes on the pain site. Adjust the positioning of the pads for optimal comfort and effectiveness.

Once the electrodes are in place, turn on the device and select the desired mode and intensity settings. Begin with a low-intensity level and gradually increase it until there is a comfortable tingling sensation. Adjust as necessary and use for around 20-30 minutes. Turn off the unit and then remove the pads.

A TENS machine kit with a pack of gel pads and necessary information

Safety Guidelines for TENS Medical Device

When using a TENS medical device, it is vital to follow safety guidelines to lessen any potential risks. Always ensure proper electrode placement to target the affected area accurately. Follow the instructions for specific positioning for different types of pain. Moreover, consult a doctor if there are any concerns or questions. Additionally, it is crucial to thoroughly clean and dry the skin before applying the electrode pads to prevent any skin irritation.

Also, never set the intensity level too high, as it can cause discomfort or pain. Likewise, lower settings help prevent sudden shocks. Thus, even if high frequencies are suitable for the condition people have, begin with low. In addition, it is recommended to start with shorter treatment sessions and gradually increase the duration as necessary.

Furthermore, do not use TENS with water. It can damage the machine and may cause electrocution. Pregnant women using waterbirth can still operate TENS, but it should be before or after they enter the pool. One more precaution to remember is not to administer a therapy session while driving, sleeping, or operating heavy machinery, as caution and common sense are necessary.

When Not to Use

People should not use TENS when they have broken or irritated skin in the pain area. Otherwise, it may lead to more irritation or infection in the area. It is also important to avoid using TENS therapy near the eyes, chest, or head, as it can interfere with the natural electrical signals of the body and cause discomfort.

Additionally, the therapy should not be used on individuals with epilepsy. The electrical current may trigger seizures in susceptible individuals. It is also not recommended when they have implanted electronic devices, such as pacemakers. This is because the pulses can interfere with their functioning.


A TENS medical device is a form of pain relief. It offers a non-invasive and natural alternative to traditional methods. By utilising electrical impulses and stimulating the nerves, TENS effectively disrupts pain signals and provides much-needed relief. With its versatility, healthcare providers recommend the medical machine to individuals seeking effective pain management solutions. TENS has unique features that make it a popular choice for pain management. One example is being able to customise it.

Individuals suffering from pain can experience a better quality of life. Their portability and ease of use make them a convenient choice for many, whether at home, at work, or during medical procedures. TENS devices provide a safe and well-tolerated option for those looking to alleviate pain without relying on medications. Moreover, acquiring a trusted and modern TENS unit, like iTENS from iTENS Australia, is helpful. There are machines that connect to Bluetooth for more ease of use.

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