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

Ulnar Nerve TENS Unit: Where To Place The Electrodes For Effective Relief?

An elderly man holding his palm due to pain

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or ulnar nerve TENS unit is another beneficial approach in the medical field. This is a small, battery-operated device that sends electrical currents to reduce pain levels. However, proper pad placement is vital in the therapy to experience the full benefits of TENS. To target the condition, one electrode should be on the inside of the forearm, near the elbow. Accordingly, the second pad can be placed on the hand near the pinky finger.

The ulnar nerve entrapment or ulnar nerve compression can mostly lead to cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome pain. There are other treatment methods, such as manual techniques, physical therapy, and invasive techniques, but there may be potential side effects. Thus, many individuals turn to TENS as a non-surgical intervention and drug-free option to alleviate median nerves. This article will present about TENS, including how it works, the proper pad placement, and the safety precautions.

What is the Ulnar Nerve TENS Unit, and How Does it Work

An ulnar nerve TENS unit is an electrical device that sends mild electrical pulses to the peripheral nerves, motor nerves, and other nerve cells through electrode pads placed on the skin. These electrical pulses from TENS can help in a variety of ways. One approach is by using the Pain Gate Theory. This proposes that electrical stimulation can block the pain signals from reaching the brain.

Therefore, it particularly closes the gate and stops the pain messages from getting through. Another way TENS devices work is by stimulating the natural painkillers of the body, called endorphins. These natural chemicals can help reduce the feeling of ailment and make a person feel better. Accordingly, the stimulation period can also help improve blood flow.

This increase in blood circulation can deliver more oxygen and nutrients to intrinsic muscles and tissues. As a result, it reduces inflammation and promotes healing. Also, TENS can stream the electrical currents in high and low frequenciesHigh frequencies are usually above 50 Hz and are beneficial for acute pain. On the other hand, low frequencies utilise below 10 Hz, which is valuable for chronic pain.

Benefits of Using the Device

The following are the benefits of the device:

  • Non-invasive – it is a less intrusive option for people as it does not require any injections or surgical treatment.
  • Drug-free option – TENS is a conservative treatment as it does not require the need to take oral medications.
  • Customisable treatment – the device allows people to adjust the therapy. This includes modifying the frequencyintensity, and duration of the therapy.
  • Home use – this convenience enables users to incorporate TENS into their daily routines, providing consistent relief from symptoms.
  • Cost-effective – it eliminates the cost of physical examinations or visits to clinical trials or healthcare professionals.

An elderly woman using TENS in the side of her elbows while sitting and reading

Proper Pad Placement Guide for Ulnar Nerve TENS Unit

Knowing the proper pad placement for the ulnar nerve TENS unit is vital for optimal results. To begin, it is important to have an understanding of where the ulnar nerve is located. This typically runs from the neck down the arm and into the hand. Thus, it is essential to identify the path it follows to determine the most effective pad placement.

When using TENS to stimulate ulnar nerve distribution, position the pads strategically along the path of the nerve. This generally involves positioning one pad near the elbow on the inside of the arm. Accordingly, the other pad can be placed on the palm side of the hand. It is crucial to ensure that the electrode pads have an appropriate distance from each other.

Placing the pads too close to each other may result in localised stimulation. Meanwhile, positioning them too far apart might limit the coverage of the treatment area. Nevertheless, users can adjust the placement of electrodes as long as it is effective and does not provide further discomfort.

How to Use the Device

Start the therapy by ensuring that the device is off. Then, make sure that the TENS unit is properly charged or has fresh batteries. Attach the electrodes to the unit using wires or through a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless TENS. Next, place the electrode pads, following the correct placement.

The user can turn on the device after the placement. Additionally, they can adjust the settings. This may include modifying the frequency, intensity, duration, or choosing a pre-set program. After that, they can start activating the electrical stimulation. Once the therapy is complete, turn off the unit and remove the pads.

A wireless pain relief from iTENS

Safety Precautions When Using Ulnar Nerve TENS Unit

When using an ulnar nerve TENS unit, it is important to recognise the safety precautions. Before using TENS, ensure that the treatment area is clean, dry, and free from lotions or oils. This is to avoid skin irritation or allergic reactions. Users should avoid placing the pads over sensitive areas, such as the throat, broken skin, or open wounds.

Always start the therapy with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. High settings at the beginning of the treatment may cause electrical shocks and discomfort. Also, do not use TENS for prolonged periods, as this may cause muscle twitching and spasms. The advisable duration is 15 to 30 minutes, and have breaks for longer sessions.

Individuals should never use TENS while driving, sleeping, or operating heavy machinery. The sensation from TENS can be distracting and can affect the ability to focus. Furthermore, it is crucial to consult a medical professional before undergoing TENS therapy. This is particularly true for people with serious medical conditions.

When to Seek Medical Help

If the individual experiences a worsening of their symptoms, such as an increase in tingling and numbness, they should see a doctor. It is important not to ignore any significant deterioration in symptoms. If the user develops severe skin irritation, redness, or a rash underneath the electrodes, they should consult a healthcare professional.

Additionally, in case the person experiences unexplained discomfort in the stimulation site, it is important to seek medical advice. This could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs attention. Also, if nausea, weakness in arms, or loss of function occurs, it is vital to see a professional.


An ulnar nerve TENS unit can be an effective treatment option for relieving nerve damage. The ulnar nerve is responsible for providing sensation and control to the pinky and part of the ring finger. When this nerve becomes compressed or damaged, it can cause pain, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm. Using TENS can help alleviate these symptoms by sending low-voltage electrical currents. These pulses work based on the pain gate mechanism and the release of endorphins.

Accordingly, proper pad placement is crucial in the therapy. For the condition, it is advisable to place the electrodes along the nerve pathways. As such, position one pad near the elbow on the inside of the arm and the other to the palm side of the hand. Nevertheless, it is important to know the safety precautions. This may include cleaning the treatment area, avoiding sensitive areas, adjusting the setting to low levels, and consulting a medical practitioner.

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