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

TENS Unit for Nerve Pain: Can It Improve the Quality of Life?

A person holding his aching hand

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief. It uses electrical currents to help manage pain. It works by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain and triggering the release of endorphins, which are the natural pain relievers of the body. This can improve the quality of life for people experiencing nerve pain. Additionally, using a TENS unit for nerve pain is non-invasive and drug-free, providing a safe alternative treatment method.

Dealing with nerve pain can present significant challenges. It may cause disruptions in sleep, limitations in mobility, and overall hinder quality of life. Previously pleasant activities may now result in discomfort and frustration. Nerve pain can also have implications for emotional well-being and mental health. Hence, individuals should take the initiative to seek treatment. This article will provide information about a TENS device for nerve pain, including its mechanism of action and proper usage.

What is a TENS Unit for Nerve Pain?

A TENS unit for nerve pain is an alternative treatment option to prescription drugs. It utilises a portable electronic device that sends low-voltage electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves. This can help reduce the pain coming from neuropathic conditions. Traditional machines are handheld with wires, while more modern units are wireless with Bluetooth connectivity.

A TENS device is designed to be user-friendly. People can wear it discreetly under clothing for long periods. It typically comes with sets of electrode pads that users can place directly on the skin over the painful area. Many individuals find TENS a convenient and effective way to manage their neuropathic pain. They do not need to depend solely on medication or invasive procedures. However, speaking with a doctor before use is essential.

People can receive temporary pain relief and other positive effects, such as relaxation, from TENS. Nevertheless, they must remember that it is not a cure for the underlying cause of the pain in adults. Professionals often use it as part of a comprehensive pain management plan that may include physical therapy, medication, and more treatments for pain.

Benefits of TENS Therapy

  • Versatile – People can use it for various types of pain, including diabetic neuropathy, postoperative pain, primary dysmenorrhea, joint pain, muscular pain, musculoskeletal pain, sciatica, and more.
  • Safe – When used correctly, the device provides a reliable and controlled method of pain control.
  • Non-pharmacological option: TENS offers an alternative to medications, which benefits those who cannot tolerate its side effects.
  • Customisable settings: TENS comes with adjustable settings, allowing users to tailor the intensity and frequency of the stimulation.
  • Targeted treatment: the machine uses electrode patches to deliver electrical stimulation directly to the affected nerve pathways, offering focused pain relief.

iTENS small wing kit with written features

How a TENS Unit for Nerve Pain Works

A TENS unit for nerve pain works by utilising the Pain Gate Control Theory. This theory suggests that the electrical currents from the TENS electrical device disrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. The device achieves this by employing high-frequency electrical pulses, typically ranging from 50 to 150 Hz. This type of therapy is particularly effective for intense or acute pain conditions.

Another mechanism of TENS therapy is its ability to induce the release of endorphins. The electronic device accomplishes this by using low-frequency electrical stimulation. This generally ranges from 2 to 5 Hz. Endorphins are natural pain relievers that the body naturally produces. This is particularly beneficial for chronic pain sufferers, offering a more sustainable solution.

Furthermore, TENS devices can improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and support heal damaged body tissues. The electric currents can increase blood flow to the affected area. As a result, it can speed up the healing process. Some people also use TENS machines to help with muscle rehabilitation and re-education by promoting muscle contractions.

Understanding Frequencies and Intensities

Frequency refers to the number of pulses or cycles of electrical current per second. The typical frequencies in TENS therapy range from 1 to 150 Hz. Lower frequencies, such as 1-5 Hz, are suitable for chronic conditions. Meanwhile, higher frequencies, such as 80-150 Hz, are for acute pain.

Intensity is the strength or power of the electrical currents, measured in Milliamps (mA). It influences how deeply the electrical signals penetrate the body. Generally, TENS therapy starts with a low intensity and gradually increases to a comfortable level. Finding the right intensity is essential for maximising the benefits of the treatment.

Step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app

How to Operate a TENS Unit for Nerve Pain

The process of using a TENS unit for nerve pain is straightforward. The key steps involved in this process include electrode placement, adjusting settings, and monitoring the treatment. To start, place the electrode patches near the area of pain. Then, activate the TENS unit and adjust the settings as needed. The outcome varies based on the specific condition.

Additionally, begin with a low intensity and gradually increase to a level that feels comfortable. Users should ensure that the tingling sensations from the electrical device are adequately intense yet free from any painful sensations. If there is any discomfort, lower the intensity until the sensations are bearable. Furthermore, set the treatment duration for 30 to 45 minutes. After the session, turn the device off and remove the pad.

During use, it is essential to monitor the feedback of the body to the electric stimulation. Users may adjust the electrical signals until they feel the most effective relief. Furthermore, following safety guidelines can help mitigate potential risks. People should seek the advice of a healthcare professional, particularly those with significant medical conditions.

Safety Guidelines

When using TENS for nerve pain, following safety guidelines is necessary. Doing so avoids potential risks and ensures effective treatment. Carefully read and adhere to the instructions provided by the electrical nerve stimulation machine. Similarly, consult with a healthcare professional before undergoing TENS therapy. This is especially true for people with underlying health conditions, like pregnant women.

Another guideline is to keep the electrodes in place and avoid excessive movement to prevent skin irritation. Moreover, be mindful of the electrode placement. Attach the electrode pads away from sensitive areas, such as the eyes, the spinal cord, or the neck.


A TENS unit for nerve pain is a portable device that sends low-voltage electrical impulses to nerves through the skin. It disrupts pain signals to the brain and releases natural pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins. This helps manage both acute and chronic pain effectively. Additionally, it improves blood circulation, reduces inflammation, and supports tissue healing. TENS units are user-friendly and can be used alongside other pain management techniques. Nevertheless, it is essential to consult a doctor before use.

Operating a TENS device for nerve pain involves simple steps: place electrodes, adjust settings, and monitor sensations. Start with low intensity, increase gradually, and ensure comfort. Set treatment time for 30-45 minutes, then turn off and remove pads. Safety is crucial; read instructions, consult a healthcare professional, and avoid excessive movement to prevent skin irritation. Always place electrodes away from sensitive areas. Following these guidelines ensures safe and effective nerve pain relief with TENS therapy.

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