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TENS Machine Side Effects: Is TENS Therapy Safe?

May 01, 2017 in TENS Therapy

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TENS therapy has been used by doctors and medical professionals in their private practice and clinics for decades. TENS machines have now become available for consumers at home. Operating a TENS machine at home means that there is no professional supervision and more questions around proper application. Many people are concerned that TENS therapy could produce TENS machine side effects. Are there TENS machine side effects? How can you avoid them and safely use your device?

TENS Machine Side Effects

Studies have shown that TENS therapy is a safe and effective way to relieve pain. However, it is important that a TENS device user properly uses their machine to avoid side effects. Misusing a TENS device can result in the following symptoms:

  • Skin irritation
  • Uncomfortable muscle twitching
  • Uncomfortable tingling sensation

*Muscle twitching and tingling is normal during TENS therapy when it feels comfortable. If the muscle feels uncomfortable or painful the TENS machine may be being misused. 

How to Avoid Side Effects

You should talk to your doctor before using a TENS machine to treat your pain. When using your machine, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure unpleasant sensations do not occur. A few of these steps include:

  • Clean your skin before applying the pads
  • Do not start the TENS Machine on the highest intensity
  • Periodically change the position of the pads
  • Do not use the TENS machine for more than one hour at a time
  • Do not use the machine if you are pregnant
  • Do not sleep with your TENS machine on without a timer set
  • Do not use the TENS machine near water
  • Do not use the machine while driving

Where to Avoid Placing TENS Pads

Side effects do not often occur when using a TENS device unless it is being misused. There are a number of places on the body where a TENS machine should not be placed. The following areas should be avoided when placing TENS pads on your body for use:

  • Eyes
  • Head
  • Spinal column
  • Over tumors
  • Open wounds (directly over; can be used around the wound)
  • Front of the neck
  • On the chest
  • Over a pacemaker or ICD device

TENS Machines Should Ease Pain, Not Cause It.

Always consult with your doctor if you have preexisting medical conditions or are concerned about using a TENS machine in your home. It is important that a TENS machine is not used it certain areas (mentioned above), overused, or used during inappropriate times (driving, showering, etc.). For more information on TENS therapy discover how it works, what it is, and what is helps treat in the article "TENS Machine: This is everything you need to know".

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Check out the following research for even more information on TENS therapy:

Sources:

  1. Schuster, S. "Side Effects of Overusing a TENS Machine." Live Strong. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/270115-side-effects-of-overusing-a-tens-machine/
Comments
  • Nola

    May 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm
    Hi there,

    Is a Tens machine safe to use for someone with a pacemaker? We have clients whom would like to use the tens machine on their feet or on their back. Is your machine safe for them to use on different areas of the body? Could you please get back to me?
    Nola Lacerte
    RCTA
    • DR-HO'S

      May 8, 2017 at 6:48 pm
      Hi Nola,

      A Tens machine should not be used on an individual with a pacemaker without proper consultation from their doctor. The tens machine should not be placed near the pacemaker or over it. I would recommend your clients see a health professional who is familiar with using tens therapy in their practice before trying it themselves.

      Thanks for your question, hope this was informative.

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