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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

The 2023 Ultimate Guide to TENS Units

Pain management can take up a lot of your time and energy. People with chronic pain regularly see a doctor or physiotherapist to handle the symptoms it causes. In line with this, pain management takes several forms or techniques. The most common method are taking oral medications, home remedies, physical therapy, and electrotherapy. While there are plenty of pain relief options, you would want something that reduces the pain sensations safely and effectively. Fortunately, electrical stimulation is a non-drug alternative to relieving pain and discomfort. In particular, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is an electrotherapy treatment that uses mild electrical currents to target the nerves. It offers fast and painless relief from acute (short-term), chronic (long-term), or general body aches. With its rise in usage, many wonder how a TENS unit compares to other pain management methods. Furthermore, iTENS Australia offers the revolutionary iTENS wireless TENS machine.

What Are the Different Types of Pain?

Before going into TENS therapy using TENS units, it is ideal to understand what pain is and the different types of pain. Pain is a way for our bodies to tell us something is wrong. It usually presents as an uncomfortable feeling to signal that an injury or illness is occurring. Moreover, its purpose is to alert us that we either need to do something about it or stop continuing something causing it. Furthermore, there are five most common types of pain. These are:

  1. Acute pain – is pain that lasts for a short duration (less than six months). It is usually from temporary injuries or illnesses. Acute pain typically subsides on its own once the injury or illness has fully healed. However, in some cases, acute pain may become chronic pain if it does not heal properly.
  2. Chronic pain – is pain that lasts for more extended periods (more than six months). It is commonly from underlying health conditions that cause pain. Chronic pain can be debilitating if left untreated.
  3. Neuropathic pain – is pain caused by nerve damage. This type of pain can affect touch sensitivity and interfere with regular movement. Typically present itself as sharp shooting, stabbing or burning sensations, similar to needles.
  4. Nociceptive pain – is pain caused by tissue damage. It usually results from external trauma or injury. It can typically present as a sharp and throbbing feeling.
  5. Radicular pain – is pain that radiates from the back or hip into the legs via the spine (commonly known as sciatica).

What is TENS Therapy?

While conventional pain treatments like analgesics can be effective, it is important to know if there is a safer option with as much effectiveness. TENS therapy is a non-invasive form of pain management treatment to relieve various pain symptoms. Physical therapists recommend TENS electrotherapy using TENS units to patients with chronic conditions. Understanding how it works is essential if you are new or unfamiliar with TENS therapy. Firstly, TENS therapy employs a device called a TENS unit or machine. A TENS unit is a compact, battery-operated device with adhesive electrode pads to be placed on the skin. Clinics or therapy centres would use traditional wired units to facilitate electrical stimulation. However, possible wire entanglement and breakage are typical with these devices. Thus, it can be an added hassle on top of already having to deal with a pain condition.

Conveniently, modern electrotherapy devices like the iTENS wireless TENS unit from iTENS Australia utilise wireless electrodes. The iTENS unit can be used wirelessly through the device itself. However, users can bring out its full effectiveness by connecting the device with a smartphone via Bluetooth. These features enable more comfort and user-friendliness with versatile options for effective pain management.

How Does it Work?

A TENS unit works by delivering small electrical pulses from the electrodes to target the sensory nerves through the skin. Transcutaneous means “through the skin”. Moreover, pain management using TENS therapy is based on two main functions: Pain Gate Control Theory and Endorphin Release. Firstly, according to the Pain Gate Control Theory, the spinal cord has a sort of gating mechanism consisting of nerve bundles. The nerve pathways control the transmission or flow of pain signals. During TENS treatment, the electrical pulses stimulate or override the nerves to close or block the pain signals from reaching the brain. Furthermore, pain gating works at sensory level TENS (high-frequency TENS) by setting the TENS unit at 50 to 130 Hz.

On the other hand, the second function of TENS therapy is the release of more endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals produced by the body that help inhibit pain sensations. It is commonly referred to as the body’s natural pain killer due to its morphine-like properties. Likewise, this function works at motor level TENS (low-frequency TENS) by setting the TENS unit at 10 Hz or less.

The iTENS wireless TENS unit from iTENS Australia works on these functions to provide effective and lasting therapeutic pain relief with added flexibility and convenience.

A Brief History of the TENS Unit

TENS therapy using a TENS unit may sound like an overly modern concept. However, the idea of controlling pain using electricity has been used ever since 2500 B.C. in ancient Rome. Scribonius Largus discovered that certain eels or fishes could emit electrical currents, which can aid in relieving pain. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (the father of Western medicine) further developed this concept by administering treatment during 350 B.C. In the late 17th century, Benjamin Franklin was a supporter and proponent of pain management treatments using electricity. Moreover, Johann Gottlob Krüger performed the first recorded treatment on a patient using electricity in 1743. In 1965, Melzack and Wall proposed the Gate Control Theory of Pain which provided a major breakthrough in pain management using electrotherapy.

The development of the modern TENS unit is widely accredited to C. Norman Shealy, an American neurosurgeon and the father of modern TENS treatment. He created the first version of the TENS unit and is responsible for the more modern TENS units used nowadays. Since then, the development of TEN units has come a long way. From traditional wired and bulky devices to completely wire-free and more compact machines like the iTENS wireless TENS unit from iTENS Australia are now readily available. The iTENS is a modern-day electrotherapy device that merges wearable technology with a TENS unit’s effective and lasting pain relief.


What Can TENS Units Treat?

Electrical stimulation from an effective TENS unit, like the iTENS from iTENS Australia, can treat pain from various pain symptoms and health conditions from a variety of body areas. These include:

Pain from Systemic Areas

  • Bursitis
  • Causalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuralgia
  • Osteoarthritis Phantom Limb Syndrome
  • Reynaud’s Syndrome
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Synovitis
  • Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Pain from the Abdominal Area

  • Diverticulitis
  • Dysmenorrheal Labour
  • Postoperative/ Surgery Pain

Pain from the Back Area

  • Facet Syndrome
  • Intercostals Neuralgia
  • IVD Syndrome
  • Lumbago
  • Lumbosacral Pain Radiculitis
  • Back Sprains/ Strains
  • Thoracodynia
  • Whole Back Pain

Pain from Lower Extremities

  • Leg/ Ankle/ Foot Pain
  • Leg/ Ankle/ Foot Sprains/ Strains or Fractures
  • Ischialgia
  • Knee Pain Passive Stretch Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Tendonitis
  • Thrombophlebitis

Pain from Upper Extremities

  • Epicondylitis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Hand/ Wrist Pain
  • Hand/ Wrist Sprains/ Strains
  • Peripheral Nerve Injury
  • Subdeltoid Bursitis

TENS Unit vs Oral Medications

For most people, taking oral medicines to reduce pain is the first course of action when the pain starts. It is due to the fact that these medicines are affordable and readily available in pharmacies. Some analgesics can be bought over the counter, while others require prescriptions. However, though they can be effective, the prolonged use of analgesics may develop adverse side effects or complications. Likewise, some people may also develop tolerance, needing higher doses to work further. Therefore, a TENS unit is suitable for people seeking an alternative to oral painkillers. In particular, different medications reduce pain through the following:

  • Opioids reduce pain signals sent by the nervous system and the brain’s reception of those signals.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) changes the way the body senses pain by cooling the body.
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.

In contrast, a TENS unit is a portable and programmable device enabling you to control the level of pain relief. A TENS unit does not have the adverse side effects that oral analgesics have; Whether using it at high frequencies (50 to 130 Hz) to stimulate the “neural gate” to close and block pain signals or at lower frequencies (2 to 10 Hz) to produce more endorphins.


TENS Unit Vs Physical Therapy

Electrotherapy with a TENS unit and physical therapy are non-drug alternatives to help manage pain. The comparison below will help identify their differences. Physical therapy is a discipline that helps individuals with injuries or chronic conditions develop, maintain and restore body movements and physical functions. It also helps prevent future injuries, disability, or surgery. There are different kinds of physical therapy depending on your particular condition. Additionally, it needs the supervision of a licensed professional to administer a treatment plan. A physical therapist will examine and assess your specific needs to develop a plan to address each. The treatment plan may include the following:

  • Exercises or stretches 
  • Massage
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Motion or gait training
  • Weight training

On the other hand, the mild electrical pulses from a TENS unit boost blood circulation in the affected area. The increased blood and oxygen flow help soothe damaged nerves and sore muscles, accelerating their healing. Therefore, people recovering from accidents, injuries, and post-surgery benefit from TENS therapy to reduce pain and discomfort without stressing the body. Moreover, it does not require the supervision of a health professional to administer TENS therapy. Therefore, you may use a TENS unit like the iTENS wireless device at home while recovering. In addition, the wireless electrode pads of the iTENS unit make rehabilitation and pain management more accessible and manageable. 


The iTENS Wireless TENS Unit

It is no doubt that TENS therapy is a sought-after pain management method because it is safe and virtually risk-free. A TENS unit does not cause adverse side effects even in the long term. Therefore, people with chronic pain may frequently use them as needed. Today, you may facilitate efficient TENS treatment at home through the wireless iTENS unit. iTENS Australia combines digital and wearable technology with the effectiveness of TENS therapy to serve various therapeutic needs. The wireless electrode pads are Bluetooth-enabled to connect to a smartphone app seamlessly. The iTENS app features several pre-set settings for easy pain management treatment access to common body aches or conditions. For example, you may select the pain relief for the following body areas:

  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Back
  • Hip
  • Thighs/ Legs
  • Ankles
  • Hands/ Feet

Health conditions:

The wide range of pain symptoms or conditions a TENS unit can treat makes it a suitable everyday pain management device. Furthermore, the wireless electrode pads of the iTENS are light, slim, flexible, and discreet. They are almost unnoticeable when worn underneath the clothes. Therefore, many people use the wireless iTENS at work or on the go because it does not restrict the range of motion. Additionally, the iTENS wireless TENS unit eliminates the hassle of dealing with cable entanglement or breakage by going completely wire-free. 


What Comes with the iTENS Wireless TENS Units at iTENS Australia?

The iTENS wireless TENS unit at iTENS Australia comes in pain relief kits, available in two sizes: the small wing and the large wing kit. The small wing size can effortlessly grip into small treatment areas such as the ankles, knees, elbows and wrists without constricting movement. On the other hand, the large wing size can provide maximum coverage and is ideal for treating the back, shoulder, thighs and other more expansive treatment areas. Furthermore, the iTENS wings are innovatively designed with comfort and efficiency. These flexible rotating wings can provide a full range of motion even while conducting TENS pain management sessions, whether at home or on the go. In addition, each iTENS pain relief kit includes:

  • The Gen 2 iTENS wireless device (the white round part); this part is the rechargeable battery and the Bluetooth receiver combined
  • The interchangeable G2 Wings (small or large, depending on the pain relief kit chosen) with a laser-printed silver conductive surface (14.0 cm x 4.4 cm)
  • 1 x set of reusable and replaceable iTENS hypoallergenic gel pads (up to a total of 15 to 20 applications)
  • 1 x charging dock with a USB charging cable
  • The iTENS quick start guide manual
  • 1 x sealable poly bag (in order to store the iTENS wings and gel pads when they are not in use)

Accessories Available at iTENS Australia

In addition to pain relief kits, iTENS Australia offers many accessories for the iTENS wireless TENS unit. The interchangeable small and large spare wing sizes are available for purchase separately. Alternatively, the long strip spare wings size is also offered. This spare wing accessory size is ideal for long-length coverage treatment areas, like the sciatic nerve, I.T. band and tendons. Thus, it effectively treats pain that radiates downward, such as sciatica. Having multiple options for interchangeable wing sizes can greatly benefit individuals with more than one painful area in the body. Users can attach these flexible rotating wings to multiple parts of the body, efficiently treating pain simultaneously.

Also, iTENS Australia has low-cost reusable Peel’ n Stick gel pads for each wing size (small, large and long strip). These refill gel pads are available in pairs of three per box (up to a total of 45 to 60 applications). Furthermore, the iTENS refill gel pads are hypoallergenic. Hence, users with sensitive skin would not have any issues with allergic reactions when applying the iTENS Peel’ n Stick gel pads to their skin. In summary, the iTENS wireless TENS unit and its accessories at iTENS Australia can be outlined by the following:

iTENS Pain Relief Kits

  • Small Wing Kit
  • Large Wing Kit

iTENS Interchangeable Spare Wings

  • Small Spare Wing
  • Large Spare Wing
  • Long Strip Spare Wing

iTENS Peel’ n Stick Refill Gel Pads

  • Small Gel Pads
  • Large Gel Pads
  • Long Strip Gel Pads

How to Use the iTENS Wireless TENS Unit?

On top of being an effective TENS therapy device with Bluetooth features, the iTENS wireless TENS unit is also straightforward to use. There are only a few steps involved, after which users can immediately start TENS pain management treatment. You may follow these easy steps on setting up and using the iTENS wireless TENS unit:


  • Press and hold the centre button for three (3) seconds; this places the device in discoverable mode.
  • The LED light on the device should begin flashing; this means that the discoverable mode is now active.
  • NOTE: Bluetooth must be turned on in your smartphone settings to pair with the iTENS wireless TENS unit.
  • Press the chain link icon on the home screen of the iTENS smartphone app to search and pair with all available iTENS devices.
  • If you are using more than one iTENS device, you must select all located devices when pairing.
  • A solid light on the iTENS device denotes that it has successfully paired with the iTENS smartphone app.


  • Place the iTENS electrode pads on clean, dry skin over the area to be treated.
  • Turn the iTENS device on and connect to the iTENS smartphone app. 
  • Once you have successfully paired the iTENS device with your smartphone, you no longer need to pair it again with each use. If needed, the centre button can act as a hard reset button. However, doing so will reset all previous pair settings.
  • Launch the iTENS smartphone app and select the desired treatment from the pre-set settings. Alternatively, you may also set customised parameters manually.
  • After each TENS pain management session, switch off the iTENS device and carefully remove the pads. Then, store it inside the sealable poly bag that comes with the iTENS pain relief kit.

iTENS Electrode Gel Pad Care and Maintenance Guide

TENS therapy using TENS units all employ the use of adhesive electrode pads to deliver the electrical impulses to the skin. Moreover, continuous usage can cause the adhesiveness of these electrode pads to lessen over time. All TENS electrode pads will eventually lose all stickiness. However, there are ways to prolong its adhesive nature. Conveniently, the iTENS gel pads are easier to maintain than traditional electrodes connected to cables. Furthermore, it is easily replaceable with the low-cost refill gel pads available at iTENS Australia. You may follow the iTENS Australia guide on how to make the most out of your iTENS electrode pads:

  • Regularly clean the iTENS electrode pads using a moist cloth. Make sure to wipe off any excess gel or residue from the surface.
  • If the iTENS electrode pads lose adhesiveness, apply water droplets, then wipe gently using a brush. Do not submerge the entire device in water or any other liquids.
  • Before using the iTENS wireless TENS unit, ensure that the skin area to be treated is clean, dry and free of oil or moisture. 
  • After each usage, switch off the device first before removing the pad. Lift one end of the pads and pull away. Furthermore, do not grab the white round disc to avoid damage. 
  • Place the protective plastic cover back on the iTENS electrode pads before storing. Keep the iTENS device and electrode pads in the sealable poly bag included in the iTENS pain relief kit for better storage. 

Are There Safety Risks to Using TENS Units?

The iTENS wireless TENS unit is an FDA-cleared medical-grade device for pain relief. Therefore, it ensures safe use. Having FDA clearance means that the iTENS wireless TENS unit has passed all necessary testing for it to be a safe medical device for pain relief. Moreover, you may purchase the iTENS wireless TENS unit online at iTENS Australia without a prescription. However, if still unsure, you may want to consult with your physician or medical professional before using a TENS unit.

Despite being safe and versatile, TENS therapy is not advisable for patients with the following: cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, and electronic or metal implants (such as a cardiac pacemaker). Likewise, avoid using TENS during pregnancy except when labour begins. Also, do not place the TENS electrode pads anywhere in the head, upper neck or throat, directly over the spinal cord, and on broken skin or open wounds. You may use a TENS unit while working, doing chores, or exercising, as it is most effective while being active. However, make sure to take a break for about 20 minutes in between TENS pain management sessions. It is to prevent overstimulation and redness of the skin. Finally, TENS therapy does not interfere with other pain relief methods. Therefore, you may use a TENS unit alone or together with other treatments or therapies.

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