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

TENS Unit for Venous Insufficiency: The Need to Know

A leg of a woman with varicose veins

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a therapeutic technique that involves using a portable device to deliver low-voltage electrical impulses to targeted areas of the body. It works by boosting blood circulation, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain, and triggering the release of endorphins. A TENS unit for venous insufficiency is a convenient and effective way to manage the symptoms without needing medication or invasive procedures.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the valves within the veins fail to close properly, causing blood to flow backward and pool in the legs. As a result, people may experience symptoms such as swelling, pain, and skin changes in the affected area. CVI can interfere with daily activities and, if left untreated, may lead to complications. This article will provide additional information about CVI, including an explanation of how TENS works for this condition and its benefits.

Understanding the Condition Before Using a TENS Unit for Venous Insufficiency

People should understand the condition before using a TENS unit for venous insufficiency. CVI is a vascular disease where the veins in the legs struggle to push blood back to the heart effectively. It often leads to varicose veins, which are enlarged, twisted veins. Symptoms may include leg pain, knee pain, swelling, and heaviness.

One of the main concerns with this condition is the development of venous leg ulcers. This type of ulcer is open sores that occur on the lower legs due to poor circulation and increased pressure in the veins. Additionally, diabetic ulcers, a complication of diabetes, can also be exacerbated by CVI. Strategies for pain management may include elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, electric stimulation therapy, and engaging in regular exercise.

Furthermore, CVI can predispose people to venous thrombosis, a condition where blood clots form within the veins. This poses a risk of serious complications, such as pulmonary embolism, if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs. Maintaining healthy blood circulation is essential for preventing complications associated with CVI.

Causes of Venous Insufficiency

  • Damage to vein valves: When the valves in the veins become weakened or damaged, blood flows backwards, leading to the pooling of blood in the legs.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Blood clots that form in the deep veins of the legs can obstruct blood flow, causing damage to the vein walls and valves.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added pressure on the veins in the legs, which can impair their ability to function properly.
  • Lack of physical activity: It can reduce the efficiency of the calf muscles in pumping blood back to the heart.
  • Aging: The veins can lose elasticity and become weaker over time.

A woman using iTENS on her arm and thigh

How a TENS Unit for Venous Insufficiency Works

Many researchers have conducted clinical studies to determine if using a TENS unit for venous insufficiency works. Fortunately, many have also shown positive outcomes on calf muscle pumps by TENS units. TENS is mainly known in clinical practice for its effectiveness in promoting analgesia for various conditions. However, it also has other beneficial effects, which people with venous stasis can benefit from.

In particular, TENS therapy can increase blood flow to the target area, which can help prevent or reduce venous stasis. It does this by using high-frequency electrical stimulation to produce a massage-like effect. This can also block pain signals from reaching the brain. Additionally, TENS can help improve the rate of healing of venous ulcers since the new blood carries nutrients for regeneration.

On the other hand, low-frequency TENS triggers the production of endorphins. These hormones are natural painkillers that bind to opioid receptors to reduce the overall pain. Furthermore, it promotes a better sense of well-being by improving moods and reducing stress.

Low and High Frequencies

The pulse rate or frequency of the electric 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 also the ideal setting to trigger the release of endorphins. Furthermore, low vibrations give massaging effects.

High-frequency TENS (50-120 Hz) stimulate the sensory nerves to block pain signals and induce muscle contraction. This has short pulses and intensity, often characterised by solid 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.

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

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit for Venous Insufficiency

There are several benefits that a TENS unit for venous insufficiency can provide to users. Firstly, it is portable. People can easily carry it around, offering convenience wherever they go. Whether at home, work, or on vacation, they can access relief from pain without having to stay in a specific location.

Secondly, electrical stimulation devices come with customisable settings, allowing people to tailor their treatment according to their specific needs. Users can adjust the pulse rate, pulse duration, and pulse amplitude of the therapy. Additionally, some advanced nerve therapy stimulators offer pre-programmed modes targeting various conditions or symptoms, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.

Lastly, TENS units are versatile in their capability to treat various types of pain conditions aside from CVI. From joint pain to labour pain, osteoarthritis pain to neck pain, and musculoskeletal pain to neuropathic pain, these devices offer a holistic approach to pain management. Also, they can effectively alleviate arthritis pain, providing relief to those suffering from this common yet debilitating condition.

Is It Safe and Effective?

TENS therapy is generally safe and effective. However, it is necessary to follow specific measures to prevent adverse reactions. Firstly, individuals with serious medical conditions should consult a healthcare professional. Electrical nerve stimulation may not be suitable for people with heart problems, epilepsy, pacemakers, and pregnant women.

Secondly, follow the recommended settings and treatment duration. Do not increase the intensity more than the allowed limit. Thirdly, only place the electrodes on intact skin. Lastly, inspect the electrodes or wirings for damage before and after each use. Avoid using the device with open or exposed wires or if the pads do not stick properly.


Understanding venous insufficiency is crucial before using a TENS unit. It is a condition where leg veins struggle to pump blood back to the heart, causing issues like varicose veins and leg ulcers. Using a TENS unit for venous insufficiency can help by increasing blood flow, reducing pain, and promoting healing. High-frequency stimulation mimics a massage, while low-frequency stimulation triggers natural painkillers. This therapy offers a non-invasive way to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Furthermore, a TENS device for venous insufficiency offers portable relief and customisable settings, catering to individual needs. It is versatile, aiding various pain types beyond CVI, such as arthritis and neuropathic pain. While generally safe and effective, precautions like consulting healthcare professionals and adhering to recommended settings are crucial. Users must ensure intact skin and proper electrode usage to prevent adverse reactions. By following these measures, people can safely and effectively manage pain with TENS therapy.

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