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

TENS Unit for Tailbone Pain: Benefits & How to Use

A person clutching his lower back with both hands

A TENS unit for tailbone pain offers several benefits. For instance, it is drug-free. Also, it is portable, so people can use it wherever they need relief. Additionally, TENS is non-invasive, which means it does not require surgery or needles. To use it, one simply places the electrodes on the area of pain, turns on the device, and adjusts the settings. It is advisable to consult a health professional before using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).

The tailbone is the small, triangular bone located at the bottom of the spine, just below the sacrum. It serves as an attachment point for ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Tailbone pain, also called coccydynia, occurs when there is inflammation or injury to this bone or surrounding tissues. Symptoms may range from mild discomfort to severe pain. This article will present how a TENS device for tailbone pain works, including its benefits and proper usage.

How a TENS Unit for Tailbone Pain Works

A TENS unit for tailbone pain relief delivers electrical currents through the application of electrodes on the affected area. The currents reach the underlying nerves and stimulate them to block pain. Primarily, TENS can disrupt the transmission of pain signals in the spinal cord. It overrides the sensory nerves and prevents them from sending signals from the pain site to the brain.

Applying the electrode pads to the area helps reduce pain sensation based on the same principle that scratching relieves an itch. Nevertheless, being cautious when using a TENS unit while sitting down is vital. The tingling sensations may mask the symptoms; however, sitting for long periods may aggravate the cause of the pain.

Another way in which TENS works is by triggering the production of endorphins. It is a natural pain relief agent that inhibits the nerve cells from sending pain messages to the brain. As a result, it decreases pain sensation and promotes a sense of well-being. In addition, TENS can improve blood flow in the area, which helps reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

Low and High Frequencies

  • The pulse rate or frequency of the electrical stimulation is adjustable to suit different needs or preferences. Low-frequency TENS (10 Hz and below) cause the nerves to become less sensitive. It is the ideal setting for people with chronic tailbone pain. Additionally, low vibrations give massaging effects.
  • High-frequency electric stimulation (50-120 Hz) stimulates the sensory nerves to block pain. This has short pulses and intensity, often characterised by strong but comfortable sensations. It is a suitable setting for people with acute pain. It also has an analgesic effect on activity-induced musculoskeletal pain and fatigue and increases mobility.

A woman using iTENS on her arm and lower back

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit for Tailbone Pain

Using a TENS unit for tailbone pain offers several benefits. Firstly, it can provide drug-free relief. It can be a natural alternative to pain medications for those who have allergies or those who prefer to avoid their associated side effects. Secondly, a TENS machine provides a non-invasive method of pain relief. It does not involve steroid injections or surgical procedures, making it a safe and gentle treatment option.

Thirdly, TENS is versatile in treating various types of pain conditions aside from tailbone pain. These include neuropathic pain, radicular pain, pelvic pain, buttock pain, muscle pain, or muscle spasms. Fourthly, TENS machines are portable and easy to use. It enables people with chronic pain to incorporate their pain treatment into their everyday activities. This accessibility allows individuals to take control of their pain and improve their quality of life.

Lastly, people can use TENS in conjunction with other conservative treatment methods. These methods include physical therapy, cold packs, ice packs, or chiropractic care. It is worth noting that TENS is not a cure for pain but only provides short-term relief. Pain relief from a TENS machine varies between individuals.

Are There Potential Adverse Effects?

TENS machines are generally safe and well-tolerated to use. However, there may be potential adverse effects for some. For instance, people may experience skin irritation or redness at the electrode pad placement sites. Cleaning the skin area or using hypoallergenic gel pads can mitigate this risk.

In some cases, individuals may experience nausea, dizziness, or other discomforts from the device. This may be due to strong stimulation or improper use. Decreasing the intensity level can help with this situation. If symptoms or severe pain persist, it is advisable to consult a health professional for proper guidance.

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

How to Use a TENS Unit for Tailbone Pain

To start treatment, clean and dry the treatment area. Next, place the electrodes on the area of pain and activate the TENS device. Adjust the parameters (frequency, intensity, and pulse duration) according to the manufacturer or pain doctor. Start with a low-intensity setting and gradually increase it until the sensations are comfortable. Some machines may have preset modes for the condition or body part. Thus, it is essential to check the features of the device.

People can utilise the TENS unit for tailbone pain relief several times daily, with each session lasting 20 to 30 minutes. It is crucial to avoid exceeding one hour per session to prevent overuse or skin irritation. Additionally, users can employ coccygeal cushions while sitting with the device and may alternate between sitting and moving during this non-surgical treatment.

After the session, turn off the TENS machine and remove the electrode pads. People may continue the therapy after a 20-minute break. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before using a TENS unit, especially for people with underlying medical conditions.

Where to Place the Electrodes?

Pain specialists and physical therapists offer different recommendations for electrode pad placement. One suggestion involves positioning one set of electrodes on either side of the tailbone or sacrum, with another set above the pubic bone. This placement may also aid in stimulating pelvic floor muscles.

Another option involves placing one set of pads at the sacrum and another below the ribcage or at the level of the bra strap. Some people may try out various pad positions to identify what suits them best. However, it is crucial to avoid placing the electrodes directly over the spine.


In conclusion, a TENS unit for tailbone pain relief proves beneficial for many. It delivers drug-free and non-invasive relief by sending electrical currents to block pain signals and stimulate endorphin production. This versatile portable device complements other treatments. However, users should exercise caution when sitting for extended periods to prevent exacerbating the pain. Although TENS offers short-term relief, its effectiveness varies among users. Nevertheless, it empowers people to manage pain and enhance their quality of life.

Using a TENS device for coccydynia requires proper electrode placement and parameter adjustment. People should clean and dry the area before applying electrodes and activating the device. They can gradually increase intensity levels for comfort during sessions lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Alternating between sitting and moving with coccygeal cushions can enhance comfort during treatment. After each session, turning off the device and removing electrodes is crucial. Consulting a medical professional before use is advisable.

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