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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Unit For Back Spasms: Does It Really Work?

A man clutching his lower back

Many people suffer from back pain. In particular, back spasms may occur due to various reasons, such as muscle pain, injuries, and underlying conditions. Fortunately, people may use Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to alleviate their pain. A TENS unit for back spasms is effective at relieving back pain. It works by sending electrical impulses to the body. This can trigger endorphin release. It may also stimulate spinal nerve cells to block pain signals.

TENS therapy is an alternative pain management method for acute and chronic pain. To use one for back spasms, the user must place TENS pads on either side of the back. Then, they may adjust the settings for optimal relief. However, they must carefully avoid the spinal cord. Consulting a medical professional is recommended before using TENS. This article will present how a TENS machine for back spasms works, how to use one, and how to select a personal device.

How Does a TENS Unit for Back Spasms Work?

Back spasms are painful involuntary muscle contractions that may decrease movement and overall quality of life. They are often caused by muscle injuries or chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. A TENS unit for back spasms works through electrical impulses through adhesive electrode pads. This triggers the natural mechanisms of the body for alleviating pain.

People may adjust the settings on their TENS machines to customise their treatment. It is a versatile medical device that provides short-term pain relief. Using high-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the spinal nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This primarily suits acute pain conditions because it takes effect quickly.

Conversely, low-frequency stimulation (2-10 Hz) takes slightly longer to take effect. However, its effects may last hours after the session. This makes it ideal for chronic pain conditions. What low-frequency stimulation triggers is the production of endorphins. These hormones build up and reduce the amount of pain sensations. Furthermore, they help improve moods and reduce inflammation.

Benefits and Advantages

  • Drug-free: using TENS does not require the intake of medications. On the contrary, it reduces or replaces the consumption of pain medicines.
  • Non-invasive: TENS therapy does not entail incisions or other invasive procedures. This eliminates the risk of infections and other complications.
  • Self-administered: people may use TENS therapy on their own. It does not require medical supervision.
  • Portable: many TENS machines have compact and portable designs. They are also battery-operated devices.
  • Massage-like effect: using TENS can increase blood flow to the area and reduce muscle tension.
  • Versatile: people may also use TENS for various body aches like foot pain, joint pain, and neck pain.

A woman wearing a large wing electrode on her lower back

How to Use a TENS Unit for Back Spasms

Using a TENS unit for back spasms is a straightforward process. However, it is crucial to read the instructions from the product manufacturer. This will help increase understanding of how to use the device. Furthermore, they may consult a health professional for medical advice regarding which settings to use and the duration of each session.

Before starting, the user should clean their skin with soap and water. Afterwards, apply the electrode pads on dry skin near or on the pain origin. When the adhesives are secure, they may turn the machine on. It is recommended to start on the lowest settings and then gradually increase them. This protects the user from sudden shocks and discomfort.

The user may set a timer to notify them when the prescribed time has elapsed. This can help prevent adverse reactions from overusing electrical stimulation. Once the session is over, the user may turn the machine off and remove the electrodes. Generally, a session may last between 20 to 30 minutes. However, this can vary depending on the settings used.

Proper Pad Placement for Increased Effectivity

Electrode placement is crucial for effective TENS treatment. People may consult pad placement guides and charts to understand where to place the adhesives for their condition. Typically, these are on muscles near or on the origin of the pain.

The user can place the TENS pads on either side of the spine for back spasms. This depends on where the aches originate. They may apply adhesives on both sides if they are feeling widespread pain. However, they must avoid the spinal cord. Moreover, it is recommended to avoid areas with irritated, infected, and broken skin.

A woman adjusting the settings of an iTENS electrode using the smartphone app

How to Choose the Right TENS Unit for Back Spasms

Choosing the best TENS unit for back spasms is crucial for effective pain management. There are several factors that an individual may consider before purchasing one. Firstly, the device type. There are generally two types of TENS machines. These are the wired and wireless TENS. Wired or handheld units use lead cables to connect the pads to the power source and controller. Meanwhile, wireless TENS use Bluetooth to control the output of the electrodes.

Secondly, adjustable settings. This is crucial for effective relief. The device should provide customisable frequency, intensity, and pulse-width settings. Another helpful feature related to settings is preset modes. These are programs tailored for different conditions and body parts. They add to the convenience of using TENS.

Thirdly, user-friendliness. Many benefit from owning a personal device with intuitive controls and easy-to-understand interfaces. Lastly, cost-effectiveness. The price range for TENS machines is between $50 and above $300. However, the least or most expensive machines are not necessarily the most cost-effective. It is best to consider the health condition and effectiveness of the machine.

Wireless Options for Increased Mobility and Quality of Life

Wireless TENS devices are valued for their convenience. People can do more activities during TENS therapy using them because they remove the restriction of lead cables. Furthermore, they require less setup time, so people may find faster relief using them.

Some electrodes are easy to hide underneath clothing. This makes them more portable and convenient to use while on the go. In addition, some even remove the need for a separate device controller by enabling adjustments through a smartphone app. Overall, this added convenience may increase quality of life by adding to the convenience of TENS.


A TENS unit for back spasms is a helpful tool that provides temporary pain relief. Many people experience back spasms due to injuries or health conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Fortunately, using TENS provides a non-invasive and drug-free alleviation of aches. It does this by delivering electrical stimulation to the body. It can trigger endorphin release and induce spinal nerve cells to block pain messages. TENS also has a massage-like effect that relaxes muscle tension.

To use a TENS unit, the person must place electrodes on either side of the back. If the ache is widespread, they may apply pads on both sides. People may use TENS without medical supervision. Furthermore, several options are available online, in pharmacies, and in medical supply stores. However, the individual must select the appropriate TENS product for the condition. They should consider the device type, user-friendliness, the presence of adjustable settings, and its cost-effectiveness before buying a TENS machine.

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