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

What Are TENS Machines: Overview, Applications, and Usage Guide

A TENS machine kit with a pack of refillable gel pads and necessary information

Pain in adults can be hard to deal with because it significantly impacts their daily lives. Thus, many seek different methods to alleviate their symptoms and discomfort. A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit is an electrical device that relieves pain. Those curious about what are TENS machines for should know that they can manage different conditions, like musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and labour pain. People must attach the electrode patches to the skin and control the settings.

The reason why individuals typically search for pain treatment options is because aches can limit their daily activities. In addition, it can affect their mood and overall well-being. Medical professionals often prescribe medications to patients, but regular intake may bring adverse reactions. Fortunately, alternative methods of pain relief are more accessible these days. One of these is the TENS device. The following sections will present what it is, the conditions it can treat, and how to use it.

What Are TENS Machines?

People searching for what are TENS machines need to know that these are a form of pain relief. A device produces mild electric currents through the skin to the nerve fibres. Subsequently, TENS stops the pain messages from reaching the brain. Health professionals typically utilise one in pain clinics. It is valuable because it can manage different types of pain conditions.

A TENS unit is portable and easy to use. Hence, it is accessible for individuals to use at home. It has adjustable settings to control the intensity and frequency of the electrical pulses. This allows users to customise their experience depending on their needs and comfort levels. However, they must always start with the lowest level to avoid sudden electrical shocks.

TENS devices are available in various shapes, kinds, and sizes. Thus, people can easily find one that suits the pain they are targeting. For instance, people with knee joint pain can use wireless and small pads. This allows them to apply TENS without hassle. Meanwhile, those with back pain may opt for a larger TENS unit with adhesive pads that can cover a larger area.

Key Features of the Device

  • Dual Channel – this allows for simultaneous treatment of two areas.
  • Multiple Modes – users can choose one for a specific condition like nerve pain, arthritis pain, or neck pain.
  • Portable – TENS machines are typically compact. Hence, they are easy to carry around and use on the go.
  • Non-invasive – provides an alternative method to intrusive procedures like surgery and injections.
  • Drug-free – it does not require intake of prescription medications, which can cause side effects.
  • Adjustable Timer – allows people to control the duration of their treatments.
  • Rechargeable Battery – eliminates the need for constant battery replacements, saving time and money.

An elderly man touching his aching elbow and shoulder

What Are TENS Machines? – Applications

Individuals seeking to know what are TENS machines can enjoy many benefits once they experience or buy a unit. One of the main advantages of this device over other treatments is that it can help with various types of pain conditions. People with acute or chronic pain can incorporate it into their daily routines to relieve discomfort and improve their quality of life.

TENS can manage acute health issues like injuries, post-surgery pain, or muscle strains. Injuries are common in everyday life, whether from playing sports, accidents, or overexertion. On the other hand, post-operative pain can be debilitating because of the trauma the body undergoes during surgery. Muscle strains are from overuse or sudden movements that cause the muscle to tear or stretch beyond its capacity.

Furthermore, patients with chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or neuropathy, can also benefit from a TENS device. Arthritis pain comes from inflammation and joint damage, causing difficulty in movement. As for fibromyalgia, widespread fatigue and tenderness in muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues characterise it. Neuropathy refers to nerve damage that can cause tingling sensations and numbness.

How It Works to Alleviate Pain

TENS units deliver low-voltage electrical impulses, which help to disrupt pain signals being sent to the brain. This effectively reduces the sensation of pain and is suitable for acute pain conditions. Additionally, it stimulates the nerves and releases endorphins. These can provide temporary relief suitable for chronic pain conditions.

Additionally, the electrical impulses from TENS can improve blood circulation and promote muscle relaxation. Thus, it can further reduce discomfort and tension in the affected area. Overall, this method of pain relief is non-invasive and drug-free, making it a popular choice for individuals seeking alternative pain management options.

A person attaching a TENS machine on the wrist of an elderly woman

What Are TENS Machines? – Usage Guide

People who want to know what are TENS machines must also understand how to use them. Fortunately, it is simple to operate. Firstly, identify the body part where the pain is located and clean the skin. Avoid irritated areas because it may worsen the skin irritation. After determining the position, place the electrode patches directly on or near the pain site.

Once the pads are in place, turn the device on. Individuals can then adjust the intensity settings to a level that is comfortable for them. Moreover, they can choose from various programs, such as continuous, pulse, or massage modes. Some users may experience mild tingling sensations or twitching from the electrical currents. This is normal as long as it is not causing any pain.

It is advisable to use the machine for about 20-30 minutes at a time, but this can vary depending on the individual and their specific needs. Some people may find relief after just a few minutes, while others may need longer sessions. When using TENS, following the instructions from the manufacturer and consulting a doctor is necessary.

Safety Precautions

Safety precautions are in place to ensure safe and effective use of TENS. Firstly, never place the TENS electrode patches on broken skin or open wounds and on the varicose veins, spinal cord, throat, or head. Similarly, avoid using electrical nerve stimulation machines while sleeping, driving, or operating heavy machinery.

Secondly, pregnant women, epileptic individuals, and people with pacemakers must consult their doctors before using TENS. This is because they may be more susceptible to adverse effects or interference with their medical devices. Lastly, always turn the machine off before removing the electrode pads and store it in a dry place.


Many people are now interested in learning what are TENS machines. These are effective tools for managing pain and improving muscle function. They deliver electrical stimulation to the body, targeting specific areas of discomfort and promoting the release of endorphins to alleviate pain. Electrical nerve stimulation devices can treat various conditions, like arthritis, sciatica, and sports injuries. It can also provide relief during labour, but women must consult a professional beforehand.

To use a TENS unit effectively, proper electrode placement is essential. Individuals can attach the electrodes directly to the pain area or anywhere near it. However, they must avoid specific body parts. Then, they can adjust the settings to the desired level of stimulation and duration. Adhering to the guidelines and speaking with a doctor is vital for guidance on proper usage. Those looking for a wireless TENS unit may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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