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

TENS Unit for Stiff Neck: A Guide on How to Use the Device

A man suffering from a stiff neck while holding his eyeglasses

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS unit for stiff neck is a device that uses electrical currents to alleviate the ailment. Accordingly, this medical treatment works in various mechanisms. However, knowing how to use the device properly is key to seeing the best results. Begin by preparing the skin and positioning the pads. Generally, it should be placed on the back of the neck. Finally, adjust the settings and initiate neck pain relief.

Neck stiffness or pain conditions can be a common issue for many individuals. This may be due to muscle tensionpoor posture, and even stress. Various treatment programs may include physical therapy, heating pads, and neck exercises. However, they may not always provide adequate relief of pain. Meanwhile, TENS therapy offers an effective treatment option for individuals. This article will present the TENS unit for neck pain stiffness, including how it works and how to use it.

What is a TENS Unit for Stiff Neck?

stiff neck is a condition that causes discomfort and pain in the neck area. It is often a result of sore muscles, cervical spine issues, or sudden neck movements. Hence, individuals with stiff necks may find it challenging to turn their heads. They may also experience stiffness and discomfort in the neck region. Fortunately, TENS therapy is a safe and effective treatment to alleviate pain sensations.

The TENS unit for stiff neck is a device that delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the nerves to alleviate discomfort. It streams electrical pulses with the use of electrode pads placed on the skin. Accordingly, it is commonly recommended by physical therapists and health professionals to their patients. Additionally, individuals suffering from neck ailments may use TENS at home.

TENS devices are available in both wired and wireless forms. This offers people options depending on their needs and preferences. The wired TENS units use physical wires to connect the electrodes to the central machine. On the other hand, wireless TENS units do not require traditional wired connections. Therefore, it allows for greater freedom of movement during use.

Causes of Stiff Neck

  • Tense muscles: Prolonged periods of poor posture, overuse of neck muscles, or stress can lead to muscle tension.
  • Cervical spondylosis: This condition is characterised by wear and tear of the spinal discs and joints in the neck.
  • Poor sleeping posture: Sleeping in an awkward position can strain the neck muscles. This results in stiffness upon waking.
  • Meningitis: This is an inflammation of the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
  • Cervical herniated disc: When a disc in the cervical spine bulges or ruptures, it can press on a nerve.
  • Stress and anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can lead to tense muscles or muscle soreness.

A small and long wing iTENS and refill gel pads

How Does a TENS Unit for Stiff Neck Work?

A TENS unit for stiff neck works through various mechanisms of action. Endorphins, which are the natural pain-relieving chemicals of the body, play a crucial role in how TENS therapy operates. The electrical pulses from TENS can stimulate the production and release of endorphins. These endorphins bind to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, it produces a feeling of well-being.

Another fundamental principle underlying TENS treatment is the pain gate mechanism. It involves the modification of pain signals travelling to the brain. The electrical currents from TENS can compete with the pain signals. This can effectively close the “pain gate” and prevent the transmission of pain messages to the brain. Therefore, the individual experiences a reduction in the intensity of discomfort in the neck area.

Furthermore, TENS therapy has been shown to enhance blood circulation in the treatment area. The electrical impulses can cause muscle contractions. In turn, it promotes blood flow. This increased circulation helps to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the tissues in the neck. Nevertheless, it contributes to the overall improvement in comfort.

Frequencies and Intensities

TENS devices can deliver electrical currents in various frequencies and intensities. Frequencies refer to the number of electrical pulses delivered by the TENS unit per second. It is typically in Hertz (Hz). Low frequencies, ranging from 1 to 10 Hz, are often used for chronic conditions. Conversely, higher frequencies, between 50 to 120 Hz, are beneficial for managing acute neck pain.

Meanwhile, intensities refer to the strength of the electrical impulses. It is typically in Milliamperes (mA) and is adjusted to ensure the individual experiences therapeutic benefits without adverse effects. Precisely, users can modify the intensity depending on their comfort level.

A person placing TENS electrode on the side of his neck

How to Use a TENS Unit for Stiff Neck

When using a TENS unit for stiff neck, it is essential to follow a systematic approach. Foremost, begin by preparing the device. Check whether it is in good working condition, adequately charged, or has fresh batteries. Secondly, prepare the skin in the neck. Thirdly, place the electrode pads, following the pad placement guide. Fourthly, connect the electrodes to the central machine or on a smartphone.

Next, turn on the TENS unit. The device may allow individuals to adjust the settings. This may include the frequency, intensity, and duration of the electrical stimulation. Additionally, some TENS units have pre-set programs for neck pain or stiff neck. Pain management professionals recommend starting with the lowest settings and gradually increasing them to a comfortable level.

Once the treatment parameters are set, initiate the TENS therapy. The user may start to feel a buzzing or tapping sensation. Throughout the therapy, it is essential to monitor any sensations that may occur. Take appropriate measures if necessary. The duration of the session may last between 15 to 30 minutes. After the TENS treatment, turn off the unit and gently remove the electrodes from the skin.

Pad Placement Guide

Before commencing the pad placement process, it is essential to ensure that the skin in the neck area is clean and dry. Then, position the electrode pads. Typically, place the pads on either side of the neck or on the back of the neck, near the base of the skull. It should be strategically placed near the area of discomfort, allowing the electrical pulses to effectively stimulate the underlying muscles and nerves.

Additionally, maintain a proper distance between the pads. This is to balance the delivery of electrical currents. Moreover, do not place the electrode pads on the throat or broken skin.


Overall, a tense muscle, cervical spondylosis, stress, and meningitis are the common causes of neck stiffness. Fortunately, a TENS unit for stiff neck is an effective tool to alleviate the discomfort. It is a device that is available in wired or wireless functionalities. Accordingly, TENS therapy works through several mechanisms. This may include the pain gate mechanisms, endorphin release, and blood flow. Also, the electrical currents from TENS can stream in different frequencies and intensities.

Using the TENS unit requires following a systematic approach. Begin by preparing the device. Then, prepare the skin and place the electrode pads. Finally, turn on the device, adjust the settings, and initiate the therapy. However, adhering to the proper pad placement is essential in the therapy. For a stiff neck, the placement of pads should be on either side of the neck. Additionally, individuals can position the electrodes on the back of the neck.

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