Australian Registered Medical Device

Same day dispatch

12-month warranty

Professionally endorsed

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

TENS Muscle Stimulation: What It Is, How It Works, and Safety Guide

A woman showing her back muscles

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS muscle stimulation is a method that uses an electronic device to send an electrical current through the skin. This is an effective treatment for pain relief and muscle performance. Accordingly, the electrical pulses work by blocking the pain signals, prompting the release of endorphins, and improving blood flow. Hence, TENS therapy can address various types of pain, including chronic pain and acute pain.

New techniques and technologies are constantly emerging in the fitness and rehabilitation world. TENS is one such innovation that has gained popularity among athletes, physical therapists, and fitness enthusiasts alike. This is beneficial due to the prevalence of sore muscles, muscle tightness, and achy muscles. TENS can promote healthy muscle growth, strength, and recovery. This article will present information on TENS for muscle stimulation, including how it works and the safety guidelines.

What Is TENS Muscle Stimulation?

TENS muscle stimulation is a therapy used for pain management and promoting muscle functions. It involves the use of a medical device that delivers electric current to specific areas of the body via electrode pads. TENS is widely used in clinical and home settings. It is beneficial in aiding joint pain, musculoskeletal pain, postoperative pain, labour pain, neuropathic pain, primary dysmenorrhea, and muscle spasms.

Accordingly, there are two main types of TENS: wired and wireless. TENS with wires use lead cables to connect the electrode patches to the main unit. On the other hand, wireless TENS eliminates the need for wires, leading to better movement. Also, most TENS with wireless functionalities have rechargeable battery features. Users can control the therapy manually or to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Most TENS offer adjustable settings. This allows people to modify the pulse amplitude, pulse rate, or pulse duration. Therefore, users can have a treatment that corresponds to their specific needs. Also, some TENS offer pre-set programs. These are pre-existing stimulation settings designed for specific conditions. Thus, it enables people to have an accessible and direct treatment approach.

Main Benefits of TENS

  • Versatile: TENS can target a wide range of pain conditions and muscle-related issues.
  • Portable: the electrical device is lightweight and compact. Therefore, it allows people to utilise the therapy whenever and wherever needed.
  • Non-invasive: it does not involve surgical procedures or the insertion of instruments into the body. This reduces the potential for complications and recovery time.
  • Drug-free pain relief: it does not require the intake of medications, which has potential adverse effects in the long run.
  • Cost-effective: the potential for long-term use and the avoidance of recurring medication costs can make TENS a financially sustainable option for many individuals.

A man using a small wing TENS on his arm

How Does TENS Muscle Stimulation Work?

TENS muscle stimulation operates through a multi-faceted mechanism that involves several physiological processes. One essential aspect of how TENS works is by influencing the release of endorphins. These are the natural chemicals of the body that act as natural painkillers. It binds to the specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord to diminish the perception of ailment.

Moreover, TENS functions through the modulation of the pain gate mechanism. The electrical pulses from the device can effectively compete with the pain signals that are travelling to the brain. This stimulation can close the gate on the incoming pain signals, thereby reducing the overall sensation of discomfort.

Also, TENS can enhance blood circulation in the treatment region. The electrical currents promote vasodilation, which refers to the widening of blood vessels. Accordingly, the improved blood flow can deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to the body tissues. It also aids in the removal of metabolic byproducts. This process contributes to tissue healing and can alleviate discomfort.


TENS and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) are both forms of electrotherapy, but each serves distinct purposes. TENS therapy primarily targets the nerves to alleviate an ailment. Hence, the key focus of TENS is to help manage and relieve pain in various conditions, whether acute or chronic.

On the other hand, EMS is specifically designed to induce muscle contractions. It applies electrical pulses directly to the muscles, causing them to contract. EMS is common for muscle rehabilitation, strengthening, and re-education. This type of stimulation can be particularly beneficial for people recovering from injuries, undergoing physical therapy, or aiming to improve muscle function.

A person using four TENS devices on her legs at once

TENS Muscle Stimulation Safety Guidelines

Safety is paramount when using TENS muscle stimulation devices. Foremost, individuals should consult a medical professional before using electrotherapy devices. These practitioners can give recommendations on whether TENS is applicable for a certain type of condition. Then, when selecting a TENS device, it is essential to choose a unit that has been cleared or approved by regulatory authorities.

Correct electrode placement is crucial for the safe and effective application of TENS. Hence, it is important to follow the guidelines in placing the pads. Do not position the electrodes on sensitive areas, such as the eyes, head, mouth, throat, chest, broken skin, or open wounds. In addition, it is important that the treatment area is clean and dry before applying the pads.

Users should start with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. Proper adjustment of TENS settings ensures that the electrical impulses are effective without causing discomfort. Accordingly, the duration of the TENS session should be following the recommendations of health professionals. Usually, it lasts between 15 to 30 minutes.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Prolonged or improper placement of electrodes may cause skin irritation, redness, or even blisters at the electrode placement site. This can occur due to prolonged exposure to electrical impulses or insufficient cleaning of the skin before electrode application. In some cases, individuals may experience muscle soreness. This can happen if the intensity of the pulses is too high.

Certain individuals may experience allergic reactions to the materials used in the adhesives. This can manifest as itching, redness, or rash at the electrode site. Also, TENS devices may interfere with the functioning of implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators.


Overall, TENS muscle stimulation is a highly effective method for relieving pain and promoting muscle recovery. This technique uses a wired or wireless device to deliver low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the nerves and muscles. Accordingly, it works based on the pain gate mechanism, the release of endorphins, and the enhancement of blood flow. Hence, it can address various conditions, such as nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain, postoperative pain, and muscle ailment.

TENS provides numerous benefits. It is versatile, portable, non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, and cost-effective. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know the difference between TENS and EMS. TENS primarily targets the nerves, while EMS stimulates muscle contractions. While TENS is safe, it is important to know the safety guidelines and the potential risks. TENS is available in numerous stores, including iTENS Australia. The online platform offers the iTENS, which has a combination of TENS, EMS, and massages for convenience and effective relief.

Best Sellers

Shopping Cart
Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
Calculate Shipping

We have detected you are from the United States

We ship to all locations within the United States.
Prices will be automatically converted into USD.

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?

Would you like to add extra Gel Pads?


The item you’re adding to your cart doesn’t have any gel pads.

Note: iTENS wings should always be used with a gel pad.