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

TENS Unit for Neck and Shoulder Pain: Proper Usage Guide

A woman touching the side of her neck

Neck and shoulder ailments can be debilitating. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain. It works by streaming small currents to the nerves of the body using electrode pads. Nevertheless, proper usage is crucial in the therapy. This may include consultation with a pain management professional, proper unit placement, adjusting the settings, or choosing a treatment program. It is also vital to know the safety precautions in using TENS.

Acute or chronic pain in the neck and shoulder can significantly impact daily life. These types of pain can result from poor posturemuscle sorenesstense muscles, or underlying medical conditions. Traditional alternative treatments often involve medication, physical therapy, or even surgery. However, a TENS device offers natural pain relief. This article will present the benefits of TENS, including how to use the machine and the proper pad placement.

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit for Neck and Shoulder Pain

TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain provides several benefits. The electrical stimulation from the device offers a non-invasive relief of pain. Therefore, people can experience relief from their discomfort without the need for invasive procedures. Accordingly, TENS provide a drug-free, complete relief to shoulder and neck discomfort. This eliminates the potential side effects or dependence on oral drugs.

Furthermore, TENS therapy allows for targeted relief by delivering electrical currents directly to the treatment area. This approach provides a precise alleviation of the condition. Many TENS machines are portable and easy to use. As a result, people can carry out their treatment plan at home, work, or during travel. Also, intuitive controls contribute to a more accessible therapy.

TENS devices often come with a range of settings. This enables people to modify the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical pulses. Some TENS may also offer preset programs for a more direct approach to alleviating pain sensations. Moreover, TENS can be used over extended periods, offering potential long-term solutions.

Advantages Over Other Treatment Options

  • Improved range of motion – regular use of TENS may lead to improvements in range of motion. This contributes to enhancing flexibility and mobility in the neck and shoulder blade area.
  • Works in various mechanisms – the electric currents from TENS can interrupt pain signals travelling to the brain and trigger the release of endorphins. Also, this promotes blood circulation in the treatment region.
  • Non-addictive comprehensive treatment plan – unlike opioid medications, the TENS unit for neck pain and shoulder pain offers a non-addictive relief solution.
  • Cost-effective – this can lead to financial savings compared to ongoing medication expenses or frequent healthcare visits.

A woman manually operating TENS on her shoulder

How to Use a TENS Unit for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Using a TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain requires simple steps. Firstly, make sure that the device is in good working condition. Secondly, check the machine to see if it has fresh batteries, is properly charged, or has a good power source. Thirdly, attach the wires of the electrode pad to the unit or connect it through a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless.

Next, remove the protective backing of the pads and carefully place it in the treatment area. It is important to follow the specific instructions regarding the proper pad placement. Then, turn on the TENS device. Upon opening the unit, TENS may allow users to adjust the settings. Thus, choose the suitable frequency, intensity, and duration. Also, some may have preset programs, hence, select the applicable ones.

Professionals recommend starting with the lowest settings and moderately increasing it to a comfortable level. The duration of the therapy may vary based on the different kinds of pain and needs. Once the session is complete, power off the device and gently remove the electrodes.

Understanding Your Device’s Settings

The intensity setting controls the strength of the electrical pulse. Users can adjust the intensity to a level that provides a noticeable but comfortable sensation. Meanwhile, the frequency settings determine the rate at which the currents can stream. Generally, lower frequencies (below 10 Hz) are beneficial for chronic conditions and high frequencies (above 50 Hz) are valuable for acute conditions.

Additionally, pulse duration refers to the length of delivery of impulses. A shorter pulse width may target superficial nerves, while a longer pulse width can reach deeper nerves. Some TENS have a timer function that allows users to set the duration of each TENS session.

A small and large wing iTENS

Proper Pad Placement When Using a TENS Unit for Neck and Shoulder Pain

The proper pad placement is crucial when using a TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain. Firstly, the user needs to identify the specific area of the neck or shoulder experiencing discomfort. Before placing the electrodes, it is important to clean and dry the skin. Free the treatment areas from substances like oil, lotion, water, or dirt to ensure adhesion.

For neck ailment, the electrode pads should be placed on either side of the spine, at the base of the neck. This creates a parallel position on the spine. Accordingly, to target shoulder ailment, the pad should be positioned around the area where the discomfort is most intense. Users can position the pad on the front of the shoulder while the other is on the back.

The spacing between the pads is crucial for achieving effective relief. For the neck, the pads should be positioned about two to three inches apart. To target the shoulder, it is advisable to position electrodes four to five inches apart. When placing the pads, it is important to avoid directly positioning them over bony regions, the spinal cord, and broken skin or wounds.

Why Pad Shape and Size is an Important Factor

The shape and size of the pads impact the distribution of electrical impulses. This affects their ability to target specific areas of the ailment. Accordingly, the neck and shoulder regions require special attention due to the complex network of nerves and muscles. The pads must be carefully selected to ensure that the pulses can reach the nerves and muscle groups.

Furthermore, for neck pain, smaller pads may be more suitable. This allows users to place the pads to target delicate muscles and nerves strategically. Meanwhile, larger pads may be more appropriate for treating shoulder ailments. This can provide wider coverage and reach deep muscle groups.


Shoulder and neck pain are common ailments. Fortunately, there is a TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain to address the condition. It uses electrical currents to stimulate the nerves. This can block pain signals, trigger the production of endorphins, or improve blood flow. Accordingly, TENS provides numerous benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, provides targeted relief and is customisable. Also, it can improve motion, work in various mechanisms, non-addictive, and cost-effective.

People can use the device simply. This can be done by positioning the electrodes, adjusting the settings, and activating the stimulation. However, pad placement is crucial in the therapy. For neck pain, the pads are either on the side of the spine, at the base of the neck. To target shoulder ailment, the pads are on the front of the shoulder while the other is on the back. TENS is available in various stores, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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