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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Unit For Herniated Disc – Is It Safe And Effective?

A TENS machine with necessary information

Dealing with a herniated disc can be incredibly painful. Thus, many people turn to various treatment options to find relief. One of the most common ones is painkillers. However, its use may come with adverse side effects. Fortunately, people can acquire a TENS unit for herniated disc. It is generally safe and effective. The device can naturally block pain signals from travelling to the brain. Additionally, it can stimulate the release of endorphins. This can lead to relaxing sensations.

A herniated disc occurs when the soft cushion-like disc between the vertebrae in the spine slips out of place. This presses against nearby nerves, causing pain and discomfort. Traditional treatments, like pain medication, may not always work for the condition. Therefore, alternative therapies like TENS have gained popularity as a non-invasive and drug-free option. The article will explore what a TENS machine is, how to operate it, and the safety guidelines to keep in mind.

What is a TENS Unit for Herniated Disc

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS unit for herniated disc is a battery-operated device. This non-invasive treatment involves the use of mild electrical currents using electrode pads. TENS stimulates nerves and provides pain relief. By placing electrodes on the skin over the affected area, the machine disrupts the pain signals. As a result, it reduces the discomfort that herniated discs cause.

One of the key advantages of TENS over others is its non-invasive nature. It can alleviate pain without the need for drugs or intrusive procedures. Using the unit provides temporary relief. Moreover, it allows people to carry out their daily activities more comfortably. Additionally, TENS can help with blood circulation. This eventually leads to better healing of the herniated disc.

There are many types of TENS devices on the market. Traditional TENS are handheld. More advanced machines are wireless. Individuals can access a mobile application via Bluetooth connectivity. This kind of TENS is often programmable with multiple settings and modes. Hence, people can customise their treatment according to their specific needs and preferences.

How it Works in Relieving Pain

  • Gate Control Theory of Pain – This suggests that the brain can only process a limited amount of sensory information at a given time. By delivering electrical impulses, TENS overwhelms the sensory nerves. Hence, it effectively closes the “gate” and reduces the transmission of pain signals.
  • Production of Endorphins – Endorphins are natural painkillers that can reduce feelings of pain and discomfort. Moreover, they enhance mood, improve sleep quality and help with stress relief.
  • Muscle Contraction – Placing TENS pads on or near the muscles can cause them to contract and relax rhythmically. This helps in improving blood flow, reducing tension, and promoting pain relief.

A man touching his lower back because of pain

How to Use a TENS Unit for Herniated Disc

TENS units for herniated disc is user-friendly. First, locate the area of pain in the back. After, place the electrodes on either side of the affected body part. Ensure that the skin is clean and dry before the pad application. This is to ensure good adhesion. TENS will then deliver an electric current to the target area. Adjust the intensity levels according to comfort levels. Start with a low setting and slowly increase if needed.

Use TENS for 20-30 minutes. After the session, turn off the machine before removing the pads. Remember, TENS is not a substitute for medical treatment. Consult with a doctor to determine the appropriate duration and frequency of usage. Additionally, always read the instructions and guidelines for proper usage and safety.

A beneficial factor that TENS brings is that it can manage different types of pain aside from herniated discs. Some examples are chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, it can help aid the treatment of acute pain conditions such as labour pain, period pain, and pain from sports injuries. Individuals simply need to attach the electrode pads properly to the corresponding affected areas.

Pad Placement Guide and Areas to Avoid

The positioning of TENS for herniated discs should be on the lower back, just above the iliac crests. The electrodes should be placed parallel to each other and parallel to the spine. Do not attach the pads directly to the herniated disc itself. Otherwise, this can cause further injury.

It is important to avoid placing the electrodes in certain areas such as the spinal cord. Also, do not place them near any open wounds, around moles or birthmarks, or on swollen or inflamed skin. This is because the electrical pulses can cause further pain, skin irritation, or other complications.

A man touching his painful back with both hands

Safety Guidelines When Using a TENS Unit for Herniated Disc

When using a TENS unit for herniated disc pain relief, it is essential to ensure your safety by following a few guidelines. Firstly, speak with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before beginning TENS therapy. They can provide proper guidance on how to use the device correctly and give specific instructions tailored to suit individual needs and pain intensity.

Secondly, always read and carefully follow the manual. It typically covers important aspects such as when and for how long to use the machine. The manual informs people never to operate TENS while sleeping, driving, or operating machinery. Adhering to these safety precautions will help minimise the risk of injury. Moreover, it guarantees the most effective pain relief possible.

Lastly, TENS may not work for everyone. Individuals with epilepsy, heart disease, and electronic implants are advised to avoid TENS. They can check with their doctors first if it is appropriate for their conditions. Similarly, TENS is beneficial for labour pains, but pregnant women should exercise caution. They must receive a go signal from a professional before operating TENS.

Potential Side Effects and How to Counter Them

Potential side effects are a common concern when starting any new medication or treatment. Thus, people should be aware and take necessary precautions. The potential side effects of TENS are skin irritation or burning sensation at the site of the electrodes. Muscle twitching is also possible due to overstimulation.

There are some general ways to counter the possible effects. An example is proper usage. Incorrect operation of TENS may lead to increased pain or even tissue damage. In addition, it is important to abide by the recommended settings. The frequency, duration, and intensity of the current should be adjusted according to individual tolerance levels.


A TENS unit for a herniated disc is an electrical stimulation device. It stimulates the nerves to relieve the pain that a herniated disc causes. However, it is also possible to manage other conditions like joint pain and postoperative pain. The pulses coming from the machine help stop pain signals. Moreover, it enhances endorphin release. This leads to less pain perceptions. People can easily operate TENS. They only need to ensure that they attach the pads properly to the skin.

When using TENS, it is crucial to be cautious even if it is a generally safe treatment. Seek guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure proper use. Always read and adhere to the instructions. By following these, people can effectively manage their herniated discs and other pains. Also, they can minimise any risks. They can enjoy natural pain relief. Thus, it is beneficial for individuals who do want to experience adverse effects associated with traditional prescription drugs.

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