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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Unit for IT Band: What It Is, How It Works, & Benefits

A man holding his aching thigh area at the beach

Dealing with IT band pain can be debilitating. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS unit for IT band. It is a device that dispatches electrical impulses to the body. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation works by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain and stimulating the release of endorphins. It also boosts blood flow. Additionally, TENS therapy presents many benefits. It is versatile, non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, and cost-effective.

The IT or iliotibial band is a thick connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh. When this band becomes tight, it can cause discomfort, especially for long-distance runners. Standard treatment options may include rest, foam rollers, and physical therapy. However, they may not always provide adequate relief. Conversely, TENS therapy offers effective management of pain. This article will present the TENS device for IT band, how it works, and its benefits.

What is a TENS Unit for IT Band?

The IT band is a band of fibres that runs from the side of the hip down to the knee. This band is crucial in bracing knee joints during activities. However, it can become strained due to repetitive strain injuries. It leads to knee pain, hip pain, and thigh pain. Fortunately, TENS therapy can provide effective pain relief.

A TENS unit for IT band is a battery-operated device that delivers electrical currents to the body. It sends the pulses through electrode pads placed on the skin. Physical therapists, massage therapists, and healthcare providers frequently recommend using TENS to manage painful conditions. Nevertheless, individuals can undergo TENS therapy at clinics or purchase one for personal use.

TENS devices are available in both wired and wireless models. Wired TENS machines connect the electrodes to the central device via lead wires. Meanwhile, wireless models offer more freedom of movement by eliminating the need for physical cables. Individuals can control the therapy manually or with a smartphone via Bluetooth connectivity.

Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome

  • Individuals often describe persistent soreness or sharp pain just above the knee.
  • Swelling along the IT band might lead to noticeable puffiness near the knee.
  • Tenderness is often felt when pressure is applied along the IT band. It is mainly across the thigh and knee.
  • Engaging in physical training, strength training, quadriceps training, and climbing stairs can intensify the discomfort.
  • Some individuals might experience or hear a popping sound at the knee where the IT band moves abruptly.
  • The area around the affliction may be warm to touch and show a reddish hue compared to the surrounding skin.

A small and long wing iTENS and refill gel pads

How a TENS Unit for IT Band Works

The TENS unit for IT band works through several mechanisms. Foremost, TENS therapy capitalises on the Pain Gate Theory. It suggests that stimulating the nerves can effectively “close the gate” to pain signals travelling to the brain. The electrical pulses from the device can essentially distract the brain from the pain signals coming from the IT band area. As a result, the levels of pain intensity decrease.

Secondly, the electrical stimulation from a TENS machine can encourage the body to produce and release endorphins. Endorphins are the natural pain-relieving chemicals of the body. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. It mimics the potential of oral medications but without adverse effects. Nevertheless, it reduces the sensation of discomfort and induces feelings of well-being.

In addition, using a TENS unit can enhance blood circulation in the treatment area. Improved blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissues. Lastly, the effectiveness of TENS treatment is significantly influenced by frequencies and intensities. Low-frequency TENS are at 1-10 Hz, while high-frequency TENS operates at 50-120 Hz. Intensities are adjustable to comfort level.

How to Use the Device

First, clean the skin around the IT band area. It is to ensure an excellent adhesive connection. Next, place the electrodes on either side of the painful area along the IT band. Individuals should follow the electrode placement chart for effective positioning. Avoid placing the pads on bony prominences and broken skin.

Once the electrodes are in place, turn on the TENS unit. Start with a low setting and gradually increase the intensity until a solid but comfortable tingling sensation occurs. Professionals usually recommend using the device for 15 to 30 minutes. After use, turn off the TENS unit and carefully remove the electrodes.

A person using a wearable and discreet TENS electrode on the thigh area

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit for IT Band

A TENS unit for IT band offers targeted pain relief. Users can place the electrodes directly around the area of discomfort. It ensures that the electrical pulses focus precisely where they are needed most. Moreover, TENS therapy is versatile. It can treat various painful conditions, whether acute pain or chronic pain. It may include neck pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain, sports injuries, and IT band pain.

Another standout benefit of using a TENS device is its non-invasive nature. Unlike surgical procedures, incisions, or injections, TENS therapy works externally. Thus, there is no recovery time or risk of infection. Moreover, it provides a drug-free pain relief option. It eliminates the potential side effects and dependency issues associated with pain medications. 

Furthermore, TENS units are highly customisable. It allows users to adjust the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical stimulation. Individuals can tailor their treatment, enhancing its effectiveness. Additionally, the compact size of TENS devices makes them portable. It enables users to carry and use them anywhere, making it cost-effective.

Are There Potential Side Effects?

While TENS therapy is generally safe, there are potential side effects to consider. One is skin irritation. The area where the pads adhere to the skin might become red or itchy. To minimise this risk, users should ensure the skin is clean and dry before applying the pads. Accordingly, some individuals may have an allergic response to the pad materials. Using hypoallergenic pads or applying a barrier can mitigate this issue.

In addition, the electrical stimulation can cause involuntary muscle twitches during the session. While generally harmless, it can be uncomfortable. To minimise this, adjusting the settings to a lower level can be helpful.


Overall, consistent ailment above the knee joint and inflammation along the IT band are some symptoms of IT band syndrome. Fortunately, using a TENS unit for IT band is highly effective in managing discomfort. It is a machine that streams electrical impulses to the body via electrodes attached to the skin. Consequently, it interrupts pain signals, prompts endorphin release, and enhances blood circulation. Also, TENS devices can employ the currents at varying frequencies and intensities.

Furthermore, TENS therapy offers benefits to users. It is versatile, non-invasive, drug-free, cost-effective, customisable, portable, and provides targeted relief. Additionally, the TENS device is easy to use. One needs to prepare the skin and place the electrodes. It is crucial to follow the proper pad placement. Then, turn on the unit. Finally, adjust the settings and initiate the stimulation. Nevertheless, users should be aware of the potential side effects of TENS therapy to ensure safety and effectiveness.

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