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12-month warranty
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TENS Treatment for Knee Pain: A Complete Guide

An elderly holding his knee with both hands due to pain

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a type of therapy. It uses a device to deliver electrical pulses to the body to alleviate painful conditions, including knee ailments. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation works by interrupting the pain signals and triggering the release of endorphins. Nevertheless, conducting TENS treatment for knee pain is easy. Begin by cleaning the skin. Then, place the pads around the knee joint. Finally, turn on the TENS unit, adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program.

Acute knee pain or chronic knee pain can be debilitating. This can significantly impact daily activities and the quality of life. Traditional knee pain relief may include pain medication and surgery. However, they may not always be desirable or effective. Meanwhile, TENS offers an effective and safe treatment. It can provide pain relief effects for those suffering from knee discomfort. This article will present TENS therapy for knee pain, including how it works and how to conduct it.

What is a TENS Treatment for Knee Pain?

painful knee is a common form of ailment that can stem from various factors. This may include injury, overuse, or underlying medical conditions. It often leads to discomfort and limited mobility and decreases the quality of life. One approach to addressing the painful condition is through the use of TENS. It offers an effective treatment and non-drug and non-invasive method of pain relief.

TENS treatment for knee pain involves the utilisation of a small, battery-operated device. This unit sends mild pulses to the body through electrode pads placed on the skin. Health professionals and physical therapists commonly utilise TENS to assist patients in managing knee ailments. Additionally, individuals who demand pain relief from knee discomfort often use TENS in home-based management.

When considering a TENS unit for knee pain, there are two primary types to choose from: wired and wireless. Wired TENS devices utilise lead cables to connect the electrodes to the central machine. Conversely, wireless TENS devices offer the convenience of a cordless experience. This allows individuals to move more freely during the therapy sessions.

Causes of Knee Pain

  • Injury: Traumatic events, such as falls, sports-related impacts, or sudden twisting motion, can lead to knee injuries like ligament tears, tendon strains, or fractures.
  • Knee osteoarthritis: This degenerative joint disease can affect the knee, causing discomfort and stiffness.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition that can inflame knee joints, resulting in discomfort and swelling.
  • Overuse: Repetitive activities or prolonged stress on the knee joint may lead to overuse injuries and discomfort.
  • Meniscus tears: This can tear due to sudden twists, heavy lifting, or degenerative changes, leading to limited mobility.
  • Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendons around the knee joint may result in tenderness and ailment.

A small and large wing iTENS and refill gel pads

How a TENS Treatment for Knee Pain Works

TENS treatment for knee pain works by leveraging several analgesic effects. During the therapy, the electrical signals from TENS can stimulate the release of endorphins. Endorphins are a group of naturally occurring compounds in the body that act as natural painkillers. Nevertheless, it binds to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This creates a sense of well-being for individuals experiencing knee discomfort.

Furthermore, the Pain Gate Theory involves the concept of selectively transmitting non-painful signals to the brain. This may override the transmission of pain signals. When TENS is applied, it can activate sensory nerves. This process is thought to “close the gate” on the transmission of pain signals. Hence, TENS can potentially reduce the perception or awareness of knee ailment.

TENS therapy has also been associated with the promotion of increased blood circulation to the targeted area. The electrical pulses from TENS can stimulate local circulation. Increased blood flow can facilitate the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. Therefore, it can potentially aid in the management of discomfort and support the natural healing process of the body.

Advantages Over the Other Treatment Solutions

Foremost, TENS therapy is non-invasive. It does not require surgical incisions or injections, eliminating additional risks or recovery time. Secondly, TENS provides a drug-free method for managing knee ailments. Thus, it reduces the reliance on pain medications and their associated side effects. Thirdly, TENS devices allow for customisable parameters. This enables individuals to tailor therapy depending on specific needs.

Fourthly, TENS units are often portable. It offers people the convenience of accessing treatment without frequent visits to clinics. Additionally, TENS therapy can serve as an adjunctive therapy alongside other interventions for knee discomfort. This can complement physical therapy and exercise programs.

A guide on how to conduct and operate the iTENS app

How to Conduct TENS Treatment for Knee Pain

Conducting TENS treatment for knee pain is a straightforward process. Begin by selecting the appropriate TENS device and electrodes. Then, prepare the skin near the knee. Once the skin is clean and dry, position the electrode pads. Adhering to the proper pad placement is crucial in this step. Nevertheless, ensure that the electrodes are firmly secured and make proper contact with the skin.

Next, turn on the TENS machine. Set the parameters of the TENS device according to the treatment plan. Professionals recommend starting with the lowest setting and gradually increasing it to a comfort level. Accordingly, users may adjust the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical stimulation. Also, some TENS models may have pre-set programs for knee ailments. Thus, choose the applicable.

Moreover, activate the TENS device to deliver electrical pulses. Users may start to feel a tingling or buzzing sensation. During the therapy, pay attention to any sensations that may arise and take necessary actions. The treatment duration may last 15 to 30 minutes. Take breaks for longer sessions. Once the therapy is complete, turn off the TENS machine and carefully remove the electrode pads.

Proper Pad Placement

Begin by identifying the specific region of the knee joint experiencing discomfort. This could be the front, back, sides, and above and below the kneecap. Before placing the pads, prepare the skin surface near the knee joint. Then, based on the location, position the electrodes accordingly.

For instance, if the discomfort is on the front of the knee, place the pads above and below the knee cap. When placing the pads, maintain an appropriate distance between them. Gently press them against the skin. Additionally, it is essential to avoid direct placement of pads over bony prominences or areas with minimal muscle and tissue coverage.


In conclusion, injury, osteoarthritis, overuse, meniscus tears, and tendonitis are the common causes of a knee ailment. Fortunately, there is a TENS treatment for knee pain. It is a therapy that uses an electrical device to deliver electrical currents to the body as a method of pain relief. Accordingly, these electrical pulses work by blocking the transmission of pain signals. Also, TENS can stimulate the release of endorphins and improve blood circulation in the treatment regions.

Furthermore, TENS provides numerous advantages over other solutions. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, and can be an adjunctive therapy. Nevertheless, conducting TENS therapy is straightforward. Begin by preparing the skin near the knee. Then, place the electrode pads following the proper pad placement. Next, turn on the device. Finally, adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program. TENS devices are available in the market, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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