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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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TENS Unit for Bicep Tendonitis: Proper Electrode Placement Guide

iTENS wireless TENS machines in small and large sizes

Bicep tendonitis is a painful condition that involves inflammation or irritation of the tendons. While there are various treatments available, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) provides a cost-effective way to relieve pain. Using a TENS unit for bicep tendonitis involves placing the electrodes on the upper arm muscles while avoiding the joints. In addition, careful preparation, adjustment of settings, and safety guidelines should be followed. This can help provide optimal stimulation.

Pain and weakness in the front of the shoulder are the common symptoms of bicep tendonitis. It can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, making daily activities challenging. TENS therapy is drug-free and non-invasive. Hence, it does not have the risk of systemic side effects from medicines or infections from surgery. This article will cover how a TENS unit works, the pad placement guide, and the safety precautions to follow.

How a TENS Unit for Bicep Tendonitis Provides Relief

A TENS unit for bicep tendonitis can provide pain relief through various mechanisms. Firstly, the machine uses electrodes to send electrical impulses through the skin to stimulate the nerves. This prevents the pain signals from reaching the brain. Thus, it is vital to identify the pain area to target the affected nerves precisely.

Secondly, low-level electrical stimulation can induce the release of endorphins. These are natural hormones that help relieve pain by inhibiting the nerve cells from transmitting pain messages. This mechanism can provide a long-lasting therapeutic effect, which is ideal for chronic pain.

Lastly, TENS can improve blood circulation in the affected area. This helps to reduce inflammation and promote recovery. By increasing blood flow, the body can deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissues, aiding in their healing process. It also enables the muscles to relax, improving limited mobility or increasing the range of motion. Users can adjust the frequency level depending on their treatment needs or preferences.

Advantages of Electrotherapy

  • Electrotherapy is a non-invasive and drug-free option for pain management. It does not carry adverse risks or side effects, making them suitable for long-term use.
  • TENS therapy does not have the potential to develop dependence, unlike drugs.
  • It can provide immediate pain relief.
  • It can provide targeted or localised relief through electrode placement at the pain site.
  • The adjustable settings of the electrical stimulation devices allow individuals to customise their treatment plans according to their specific needs.
  • TENS can be a complementary therapy alongside other pain relief techniques.
  • Individuals can use the device anytime when necessary.

A man and woman using a TENS machine of their elbow and arms

Proper Electrode Placement When Using a TENS Unit for Bicep Tendonitis

Using the TENS unit for bicep tendonitis relief involves proper pad placement. In general, the electrodes should be placed on the sides of the pain. This will allow the electrical impulses to flow towards the centre, where the pain is most felt. For bicep tendonitis, position the electrodes in front of the upper arm, near the shoulder joints.

To identify the precise pad placement, flex the arms to identify the start and end points of the biceps muscles. Then, attach the electrodes at these points. It is essential to keep the distance between the pads at two to three inches to ensure optimal coverage of the affected area. Additionally, make sure to avoid placing the electrodes directly on the elbow or shoulder joint.

It is also beneficial to experiment with different electrode placements to find the most effective relief for bicep tendinopathy. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid electrode contact in areas with skin irritation, rashes, or open wounds. Using the device near these areas may aggravate the skin condition.

How to Use the Device

Using the TENS machine involves a few steps. Firstly, prepare the site of electrode placement by cleaning the skin or removing any oil, lotion, or dirt. Secondly, attach the electrode pads to the target area. Once in place, turn on the unit and adjust the settings.

Start with a low intensity and gradually increase until the electrical pulses feel strong but comfortable. Moreover, set the treatment duration for 30-60 minutes. After the session, turn off the device and carefully remove the pads from the skin. Lastly, clean the electrodes after use and store the device properly.

Peeling the cover of a TENS gel pad

Safety Precautions When Operating a TENS Unit for Bicep Tendonitis

When operating a TENS unit for bicep tendonitis, it is vital to take certain precautions to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment. It is best to start with the lowest settings to prevent sudden or overstimulation. This approach allows users to adjust to the electrical stimulation without overwhelming them.

Furthermore, do use the TENS unit on sensitive areas. For related conditions like shoulder pain, do not put the electrodes directly on the joints. Instead, position the pads in front or back of the shoulder blade or around the rotator cuff tears. Other regions to avoid are the head, the front and sides of the neck, the chest, and directly over the spine.

Although individuals can use the TENS anytime, there are certain situations where it is advisable to avoid its use. This includes bathing, sleeping, and driving or operating heavy machinery. Likewise, avoid sessions exceeding one hour, as prolonged pad placement may irritate the skin and cause additional injury. Always monitor the skin condition during treatment and make adjustments when necessary.

Are There Potential Side Effects?

TENS units are generally safe to use, but there are potential side effects to be aware of. These include allergic reactions, like rashes or redness, due to the adhesives of the pads. It may also occur if the pads are left on for too long. Similarly, high intensities may cause skin burns.

However, these side effects are usually mild and temporary. Another possible side effect is dizziness or headaches. Users may check the settings and ensure the parameters are within the tolerable range. Nevertheless, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional if these symptoms persist even after using the device.


A TENS unit for bicep tendonitis offers a drug-free way to alleviate pain and discomfort. It can help boost blood flow, reducing inflammation of swollen bicep muscles and increasing the range of motion. Thus, it promotes the faster recovery of overuse injuries. To use the TENS machine, attach the electrodes to the affected muscles or nerve pathways. Then, gradually adjust the intensity settings until the tingling sensations are comfortable. For best results, consult a healthcare professional for advice.

Furthermore, use the appropriate size of the pads, depending on the treatment area. TENS also provides other benefits, such as relief of muscle spasms, muscle tightness, and muscle strains. With proper usage, it can help improve shoulder mobility and restore normal activity levels. Overall, TENS therapy is a suitable pain management method for various chronic and acute pain. TENS machines are available for personal or home use in pharmacies or online, like iTENS Australia.

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