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

TENS Unit for Spinal Stenosis: The Need to Know

A man holding his lower back

When seeking relief from the clinical symptoms of spinal stenosis, a person may consider undergoing Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy. A TENS unit for spinal stenosis is a medical device that delivers mild electrical current to the nerves. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation can block the transmission of pain signals, prompt the production of endorphins, and increase blood flow. Also, TENS is easy to operate. One needs to identify the treatment area, place the electrodes, and adjust the settings.

Spinal canal stenosis is a medical condition that affects the spine. This causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Hence, this can lead to a variety of symptoms, including chronic pain, back painmuscle twitchmuscle soreness, and limited walking ability. While there are several treatment programs like pain medicationscold therapy, and physical therapy, many individuals are turning to TENS. This article will present TENS for spinal stenosis, including how it provides relief and how to operate it.

What is a TENS Unit for Spinal Stenosis?

A TENS unit for spinal stenosis is a small, battery-operated device that sends minimal current to the nerves through electrodes placed on the skin. Accordingly, pain specialists, licensed practitioners, and pain management professionals often recommend and supervise the use of TENS for the condition. Also, individuals with lumbar canal stenosis may consider using TENS for home use.

TENS devices are available in both wired and wireless forms. Wired TENS units are connected to the electrodes using wires. Meanwhile, wireless TENS utilise Bluetooth technology, eliminating the use of lead cables. As a result, it provides greater freedom of movement. Nevertheless, individuals can control the therapy manually or with the use of a smartphone or tablet.

Both types of devices often provide adjustable settings to control the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical pulses. This allows for personalised treatment conforming to individual needs and preferences. Additionally, TENS may feature pre-set modes to target specific types of pain, such as acute or chronic pain conditions. Some TENS may also incorporate rechargeable batteries for convenience.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

  • Osteoarthritis: the most common cause of the condition is the wear and tear of the spin over time, leading to the development of osteoarthritis. This can result in the formation of bone spurs and the thickening of ligaments.
  • Herniated Discs: when the soft material within the disc between the vertebrae bulges out, it can put pressure on the spinal canal.
  • Congenital condition: some individuals may have a narrower spinal canal.
  • Spinal cord injuries: trauma to the spine, such as fractures or dislocations, can result in the displacement of bone or tissues.
  • Tumor: abnormal growths within the spinal canal can cause spinal nerve and cord compression.

A wireless pain relief unit from iTENS Australia

How a TENS Unit for Spinal Stenosis Provides Relief

The TENS unit for spinal stenosis provides relief by utilising several mechanisms to help reduce the pain sensation. Accordingly, the electrical signal from TENS can stimulate the nerves, triggering the release of endorphins. These are the natural chemicals of the body that act as natural painkillers. Hence, their production can help alleviate discomfort and create a sense of well-being.

Furthermore, TENS machines operate on the principle of the Gate Control Theory of Pain. According to this theory, the electrical stimulation from the TENS device can effectively close the gate to the transmission of pain signals. As a result, this can reduce the perception of discomfort and provide a relief of pain.

The electrical pulses can also promote vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels. This leads to an increase in blood flow in the affected areas of the spin. Therefore, it supplies oxygen and nutrients while aiding the removal of waste products. By utilising these mechanisms, a TENS device can offer individuals with spinal stenosis pain relief to manage their symptoms. This potentially improves the overall quality of life.


TENS therapy is a non-invasive treatment option. It means that it does require surgery or other invasive procedures. Accordingly, TENS treatment provides a drug-free approach to managing discomfort. This is particularly advantageous for people who prefer to minimise their use of pain medications.

Many TESN devices are compact and portable. This allows individuals to use them at home, work, or while travelling. Also, TENS offers adjustable settings, enabling users to customise the intensity, frequency, and duration of the electrical pulses. Moreover, TENS presents a cost-effective pain management option. This eliminates the cost of oral medications and frequent visits to healthcare providers.

A person placing a large wing TENS on the back of another person

How to Operate a TENS Unit for Spinal Stenosis

Operating a TENS unit for spinal stenosis involves several key steps. Before operation, the individual should ensure the TENS device is in good working condition. Make sure that the batteries are adequately charged or are fresh. Then, attach the electrodes to the central unit using lead cables or to a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless TENS devices.

Next, identify the area of the body experiencing pain related to spinal stenosis. Using the adhesive electrodes, carefully place the electrodes on the skin, following the proper electrode placement. Once the pads are in place, the individual can power on the TENS machine. This typically involves pressing a power button. Adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program for the condition.

The individual should start with the lowest setting and gradually increase to a level that provides noticeable but comfortable stimulation. Accordingly, the treatment duration usually lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. Throughout the session, it is vital to monitor any sensations. After the advisable treatment duration, the individual can power off the unit and gently remove the adhesive electrodes.

Electrode Placement

Firstly, identify the specific area where experiencing discomfort due to spinal stenosis. This may include the lower back, buttocks, or legs. Secondly, before placing the electrodes, the individual should ensure the treatment area is clean and free from oils or lotions. This helps to ensure proper adhesion of the electrodes.

Generally, for spinal stenosis, the electrodes are usually placed along the path of the affected nerves or muscles. This is often on both sides of the spine or in the area of radiating pain. Nevertheless, it is important to place the electrodes with proper spacing. Avoid positioning the pads on bony regions or open wounds.


In conclusion, a TENS unit for spinal stenosis is a beneficial treatment option for individuals. Osteoarthritis, herniated discs, congenital conditions, and spinal injuries are the common causes of the condition. Fortunately, TENS can provide pain relief by sending electrical currents to the body. It is available in wired and wireless functionalities with numerous features. Accordingly, it works by interfering with the pain signals, triggering the production of endorphins, and improving blood flow.

TENS devices offer a multitude of benefits to users. It is non-invasive, drug-free, portable, customisable, and cost-effective. Furthermore, TENS machines are easy to operate. The user needs to identify the treatment area, position the electrode pads, adjust the settings or select a pre-set program, and activate the stimulation. Nevertheless, pad placement is crucial in the therapy. Usually, it is placed in the lower back, buttocks, or legs. TENS is available in numerous stores, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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