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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Unit for Myofascial Release: Usage Guide for Chronic Myofascial Pain Treatment

A man experiencing neck and shoulder pain

Myofascial pain is a condition that arises from the muscle fibres and soft tissue becoming tight and forming trigger points. For short-term pain relief for this condition, many use Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit for myofascial release is easy to self-administer. The user starts by placing the pads on muscles near the trigger points. Then, they may adjust the settings accordingly until they reach the optimal level. Afterwards, they must turn it off and then remove the electrodes.

TENS therapy works by delivering electrical pulses to the sensory nerves. These trigger the pain gate mechanism, production of endorphins, and vasodilation, which can help individuals with myofascial pain. It also works on other painful conditions, such as postoperative pain, joint pain, neuropathic pain, chronic neck pain, and chronic back pain. This article will present information on TENS machines, how to use them, and the proper electrode placement.

What Is a TENS Unit for Myofascial Release?

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that produces aches in trigger points. It is often confused with fibromyalgia due to some of the symptoms associated with it. However, the main difference lies in that fibromyalgia is widespread musculoskeletal pain. Meanwhile, myofascial pain focuses on specific areas with fewer instances of radiating pain. To address this condition, many people turn to traditional forms of medicine, such as physical therapy and oral medicine.

Another treatment option for pain relief is using a TENS unit for myofascial release. A TENS machine is a medical device that ends low-voltage electrical currents to the sensory nerves. It works by using electrical stimulation to trigger mechanisms in the body that can help with myofascial release. One of them is the pain gate mechanism. This suggests that high-frequency stimulation can induce the spinal nerve cells to block pain signals.

It also triggers the production of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers. These are hormones that bind to opioid receptors, resulting in overall pain reduction. They can also help reduce inflammation and stress. Overall, TENS therapy is an effective treatment for many individuals.

Symptoms Associated With Myofascial Trigger Points

  • Severe and deep muscular pain in specific areas.
  • Persistent muscle pain that can increase in intensity when moving.
  • Continuous aches that do not fade even after some time.
  • General fatigue and discomfort.
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia due to painful muscle aches.
  • Muscle weakness and stiffness, which can worsen posture.
  • Appearance of painful and tender muscle knots.
  • Reduced range of motion due to tightness and aches.
  • Muscle twitching and severe pain when pressure is applied to trigger points.
  • Headaches due to additional stress and lack of quality sleep.
  • Depression, anxiety, and mood swings due to chronic pain.

A woman manually adjusting the iTENS electrode on her shoulder

How to Use a TENS Unit for Myofascial Release

Using a TENS unit for myofascial release is a straightforward process. To start, they must identify the aching trigger point and prepare the area. Next, they must apply the pads near or on the pain source. Afterwards, they must link this to the control unit using the lead wires or Bluetooth.

Once the electrode pads are secure, they may turn the unit on and adjust the settings accordingly. TENS machines usually have options to adjust the settings for the frequency, intensity, and pulse width. Alternatively, they may also select a preset program for massage if this is available. They may set the timer for 20 to 30 minutes, or they may refer to the advice of their healthcare provider.

When the prescribed session duration finishes, they must turn off the unit and remove the electrodes. Afterwards, they can clean the adhesives with a few drops of water and a clean cloth. They may also use it later in the day if they wish to. However, a minimum 20-minute break is recommended to avoid skin irritation or mild burns on the electrode site.

Adjusting the Intensity

A key component of TENS therapy is adjusting the intensity levels. The intensity setting of a TENS unit refers to the strength of the electrical current delivered to the body. It is important to find a balance between intensity that provides pain relief without causing discomfort or pain.

To adjust the intensity, start with a low setting and gradually increase it until it reaches a comfortable level. The sensation from the electrical stimulation should be strong but not painful. At the start of every session, starting with low intensity is recommended since it can help prevent sudden electrical shocks and discomfort.

A person removing the film from an iTENS pad

Proper Pad Placement When Using TENS Units for Myofascial Release

The electrode placement is crucial when using TENS units for myofascial release. This is because it is what facilitates effective targeted relief of the painful area. Generally, the user must apply the electrodes to muscles near or on the pain source. They may use multiple wired or wireless adhesive pads as long as they put at least an inch of space between them to avoid interference.

For example, when using TENS for shoulder trigger point pain, they may apply pads on the muscles around the shoulder joint. Additionally, for backaches, they may attach the pads to either or both sides of the spine. However, it is crucial to avoid sensitive areas when placing TENS pads. This includes the spinal cord, throat, chest, and the top of the head.

Moreover, individuals should avoid applying electrode pads to irritated, infected, or broken skin. This is because the electric current stimulation could worsen the condition. Lastly, they must also avoid applying them near metal and electrical implants, such as defibrillators and pacemakers.

Wireless Electrode Pads for Increased Range of Motion

Wireless TENS pads are innovative devices that enable the user to maintain their range of motion during a therapy session. This is in contrast to traditional units that use lead cables and restrict movement. With wireless pads, people can enjoy TENS therapy without the hassle of lead cables. This can reduce the set-up time and benefit those with active lifestyles.

Moreover, some wireless pads are wearable. They can easily be hidden underneath clothing, so individuals can use them while working. In addition, wireless units tend to offer more advanced features. One example is the iTENS wireless unit, which allows control using a smartphone app.


A TENS unit for myofascial release is a helpful device that can provide effective treatment without adverse effects. TENS therapy is an alternative approach to pain management, which works by using a machine to send electrical pulses to the body. These trigger the mechanisms that can alleviate pain and aid in healing. This includes the pain gate mechanism, endorphin production, and increased blood circulation. Altogether, it can provide myofascial release and help improve the quality of life.

Moreover, using TENS is easy. It is also safe to use even without medical supervision. To undergo a session, the user must simply apply the pads on the muscles near the trigger point. Then, they can slowly adjust the settings for effective relief or select a preset program mode. It is crucial to practice proper pad placement to maximise the effects of the therapy. Individuals should also consult a health professional for medical advice before using TENS.

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