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

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit: The Need to Know

A female news anchor reporting about TENS as a new faster pain relief

A TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit is an electronic device used for pain relief. It works by sending electrical currents to the body. This electrical stimulation operates through various analgesic mechanisms. Furthermore, using the device is easy. Begin by locating the treatment area. Then, place the electrode patches. Finally, turn on the unit and adjust the settings. Additionally, the utilisation of TENS provides several benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, and cost-effective.

Living with different types of pain can be a daily struggle for many individuals. This impacts the quality of life and overall well-being. Hence, finding a pain management solution is essential. Common methods of pain relief include medications and physical therapy. However, TENS therapy emerge as an effective treatment of pain. It is popular in healthcare settings as it is safe and accessible. The following sections will present the TENS unit, including how to use it and its benefits.

What is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit?

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit is an electrical device that utilises electrical pulses as a method of pain relief. It delivers the electric currents to the body via electrode pads placed on the skin. Physical therapists, pain clinics, and health professionals often recommend TENS to patients. Additionally, individuals and athletes may use TENS devices at home for self-care.

TENS therapy works in various ways. Foremost, the pain gate mechanisms. This suggests that electrical signals can block pain signals from reaching the brain. Furthermore, TENS encourages the release of endorphins. These are the natural pain-relieving chemicals of the body. Also, the treatment can promote blood flow. This can deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to body tissues.

TENS units are available in two main types: wired and wireless. Wired TENS units use lead cables to connect the electrodes to the central machine. Meanwhile, wireless TENS units eliminate the need for physical wires. Nevertheless, both types offer numerous features. This may include adjustable settings and pre-set programs. Moreover, the electrode pads are available in different shapes and sizes.

Treatable Conditions

  • Acute pain: This is sudden and temporary. It may result from postoperative painprimary dysmenorrhealabour pain, injuries, and headaches.
  • Chronic pain: This is an ongoing discomfort and may last for months. Conditions like arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, and backaches may fall into this category.
  • Neuropathic pain: It involves nerve-related discomfort. This may include diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, and nerve entrapment syndromes.
  • Musculoskeletal pain: This affects the bones, muscles, and joints. TENS therapy is beneficial for conditions like joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and knee osteoarthritis pain.
  • Muscular conditions: TENS treatment can effectively manage muscle soreness and tension.

A woman using and manually operating TENS on her back

How to Use a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit

Using a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit involves several simple steps. Begin by identifying the treatment area. Then, prepare the skin over it. Position the electrodes accordingly, adhering to the proper electrode placement. Next, connect the electrode patches to the central machine. Use the lead cables for wired units or a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth for wireless units.

Afterwards, turn on the TENS unit. This may involve adjusting the settings, such as the pulse ratepulse intensity, and pulse duration. Additionally, some models may allow users to choose a pre-set program. Thus, select the program that targets the specific condition. Start with the lowest setting and moderately increase it to a comfortable level. Once the parameters are set, initiate the TENS therapy.

During TENS treatment, individuals may experience different sensations, such as tingling or buzzing. These are normal and are part of the treatment process. The duration of the treatment session may vary. Typically, the therapy may last 15 to 30 minutes. After the prescribed treatment duration, turn off the TENS unit and carefully remove the electrode patches from the skin.

Electrode Placement

Foremost, identify the specific area of the body experiencing discomfort. Then, clean and dry the skin to remove oils, lotions, and dirt. Next, position the electrodes strategically to cover the target area. Generally, place the pads on either side of the pain. Additionally, maintain a proper distance between the pads. This is to balance the delivery of electrical currents.

Moreover, avoid placing the electrode patches on sensitive areas of the body. This may include the head, eyes, mouth, throat, chest, bony prominences, and broken skin. Nevertheless, adjustments to the electrode placement can be made based on the comfort and efficacy of the treatment.

A person using a wearable and discreet TENS on her thigh

Benefits of Using a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit

The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit offers a range of benefits. Firstly, TENS therapy provides targeted relief. This approach allows people to focus on treating localised discomfort without affecting the entire body. Secondly, TENS is versatile. It can address various types of pain. Thirdly, TENS treatment is non-invasive and drug-free. It does not require invasive procedures or the intake of medicines.

Fourthly, the TENS unit allows for adjustable settings. This customisation empowers individuals to tailor the treatment depending on specific needs and preferences. Furthermore, TENS therapy is a cost-effective pain management solution. It reduces the reliance on expensive pharmaceuticals, frequent visits to healthcare providers, or invasive treatment. This makes it an affordable option.

The portability of TENS devices makes them convenient for use in various settings. Individuals can carry the unit, making it accessible at home, at work, or on the go. Moreover, TENS therapy can be used as an adjunct therapy alongside other treatment solutions. Additionally, compared to many pharmaceutical interventions, TENS treatment is associated with minimal side effects.

Are There Potential Side Effects?

TENS is safe. However, it is crucial to know the minimal potential side effects. Prolonged or excessive use of TENS may result in skin irritation. Thus, it is essential to regularly monitor the skin and adhere to the proper pad placement. In some cases, individuals may experience mild muscle twitching. This sensation is typically transient and can be managed by adjusting the settings.

Additionally, rarely, individuals may experience sensory overload. This can result in discomfort. Adjusting the setting can help mitigate this response. Moreover, improper use of TENS electrodes or failure to adhere to safety guidelines can increase the risk of skin burns.


In conclusion, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units are a valuable tool for individuals. It is a wired or wireless device that is commonly used by professionals, therapists, and individuals. Accordingly, it works by delivering electrical pulses to the body. This can block pain signals, trigger the release of endorphins, and improve blood flow. With such mechanisms, TENS therapy can treat a wide range of conditions. This may include injuries, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathyjoint pain, and muscle tension.

Furthermore, using the TENS unit is easy. Begin by locating the treatment area and preparing the skin. Then, place the electrodes, adhering to the proper electrode placement. Finally, turn on the device and adjust the settings. Moreover, TENS therapy offers numerous benefits. It is versatile, non-invasive, drug-free, adjustable, cost-effective, and portable. It also provides targeted relief and can be an adjunctive therapy. However, knowing the potential side effects of TENS is crucial for optimal treatment.

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