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

Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation TENS: An Introductory Guide

The iTENS large wings with information about the device

Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation with TENS is a type of electrotherapy. It uses mild electrical currents to stimulate the nerves. People feel less pain when they use it because of its ability to trigger the production of endorphins. Moreover, it can block pain signals from reaching the brain. Its advantages include convenience and immediate access to pain relief. As long as they use the machine correctly, it can relieve pain within 15 minutes.

There are various ways to treat pain. For instance, doctors typically prescribe medication. They can also recommend surgery for severe cases. These are effective, but they can cause adverse side effects. On the other hand, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is 100% drug-free and non-invasive. Hence, many are keen to try it. To learn more, the article will present more of what it is, how it works, and its advantages over others.

What is Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation TENS?

A TENS machine is a battery-operated device. It is an electrotherapy where the device sends electrical currents to the nerves to reduce pain. It has been effective for many people so far. Hence, many more are also getting interested in knowing what it does. Doing a transcutaneous electrical stimulation with TENS is safe. It is non-invasive. Thus, there is no need for fear of adverse side effects.

Traditional units are handheld and have wires. However, there are also wireless units. TENS uses electrode pads that people need to attach to their bodies. The machine and electrodes come in different shapes and sizes to fit specific body parts. If the pads are small, they can use multiple of them for larger body parts like the back.

Additionally, the machine has controls that allow people to adjust the level of pain relief they receive. They can change the intensity, duration, and frequency manually. Some devices have pre-controlled programs where they can choose one that is suitable for their medical condition.

Conditions It Can Help With

TENS machines can manage both acute and chronic conditions. Here are some of the most common ones people target for pain relief:

  • Back Pain – It is an ailment that they can get at least once in their lives. The reason is that it has trivial causes like bad posture.
  • Shoulder Pain – Sports and extreme movements can cause frozen shoulders.
  • Arthritis – Many experience joint pains where there may be stiffness and limited mobility.
  • Period Pain – Women who get cramps monthly can also use it to provide relaxation.
  • Labour Pain – Pregnancy is sensitive, so they must consult their doctors first. TENS helps relieve contraction pains.

A woman using the iTENS small wings on one hand

How Does Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation TENS Work?

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation with TENS works by flooding the nervous system with low-voltage electrical impulses. It uses electrodes to send them from the machine to the body. Hence, the pads are an important aspect of the electrotherapy. People can either directly place the pads over the pain area or near it.

The therapy controls pain in two ways. One of which is through Motor Level Stimulation. This method uses low frequencies at less than 10 Hz. It aids in producing the natural painkillers in the body, which are the endorphins. The release of endorphins is one of the reasons why people who use it can feel more at ease. Low frequencies take a longer time to take effect than the other one, but the effects last longer in the body.

Sensory Level Stimulation is another way. It operates in high frequencies at greater than 50 Hz. This is when the body increases its blocking abilities. The brain will have a more difficult time recognizing pain because of the pain gating. High frequencies are fast-acting. However, their effects tend to leave the body faster compared to low frequencies.

How to Use It

It is essential to follow the instructions thoroughly to reach the optimum performance of TENS. To begin a session, people must connect the lead wires to the machine and electrodes, and then place the pads on the skin. For wireless units, they can directly attach the pads. Afterwards, they can turn on the device.

Start with low frequencies to prevent shocks. They can increase it gradually once they are comfortable. They can manually operate the device by clicking the buttons on the machine or through the mobile application for wireless models. It is necessary to turn off the device before removing the pads.

Elderly woman sitting down while using TENS machine and reading a book

Advantages of Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation TENS

Doing Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation with TENS has many advantages. Firstly, people can experience a fast-acting pain reliever. It not only manages discomfort without little to no side effects, but it can also do it quickly. Individuals can receive relief in as fast as 15 minutes by having a good quality and functional device coupled with proper usage.

Secondly, it is convenient. The units are commonly small. Hence, even wired versions are easy to use. Moreover, the wireless ones are great for those who want to use them outside the house. Units from iTENS Australia are discreet and can connect to Bluetooth. Thus, it is easier for them to use without anyone knowing. Their units disappear behind their clothing.

Lastly, they can multitask. The portability of the TENS device gives them the chance to do other activities during sessions. For instance, they can read a book during TENS sessions. Furthermore, taking painkillers may bring about nausea after consumption. On the other hand, they would not experience that after TENS therapy, allowing them to do more things.

Are There Disadvantages?

People continue to use TENS because it is effective and has low risks. Many have experienced success with TENS. However, its disadvantage is that it does not work for everyone. Some cases may be too difficult for TENS therapy to treat.

In addition, those with certain conditions are more susceptible to side effects. Hence, they need to speak with a healthcare provider before using it. Pregnant women, epileptic people, and those with heart diseases are the groups that require consultations. People who do not belong to the groups are still encouraged to talk to professionals for more security.


Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation with TENS is a good alternative to relieving pain. It can help with various kinds of acute and chronic pain. TENS therapy can manage conditions from neck pain to fibromyalgia. It is an electrotherapy that uses low-voltage impulses. The way it works is by producing endorphins and pain gating. People can get many benefits from it, such as being able to multitask and receiving a fast-acting pain reliever.

They typically see a TENS machine inside hospitals and therapy centres. However, there are now personal units in the market. They are designed to be a good support to the daily lives of people. Wireless ones commonly go with mobile applications. They are user-friendly. Thus, people will not have a difficult time navigating it. To reach its full potential, they should buy from reliable brands. Also, they should speak to doctors before using it.

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