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What Conditions are TENS Machines Used For?

May 15, 2017 in TENS Therapy


A TENS device is a highly effective, safe, and completely non-invasive means of treating pain using basic electrical impulses. With new technologies advancing every day, TENS machines are advancing in their effectiveness and ease of use. They can even be used right in the home.

Many people are eager to know if these devices can help their conditions, asking: what conditions are TENS machines used for? The truth is, TENS machines can treat a very broad range of symptoms and ailments from back pain to fibromyalgia and arthritis to headaches, cancer pain and more.

What Is a TENS Machine?

The term “TENS” is an acronym for “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.” A TENS machine is a device that uses small electrical currents to stimulate the nerve endings in the body. These nerve endings are those that send and receive messages for pain to and from the brain, and stimulating them in the proper way can greatly reduce pain from a range of conditions, including wounds and injuries.

In addition to managing signals from the pain center of the brain, the device also encourages the release of endorphins, which is the body’s natural method of creating pleasure and dulling pain. The electrical impulses generated by the TENS unit are low-power and painless, sometimes resulting in a “pins and needles” sensation, but rarely more than that.

What Conditions are TENS Machines Used For?

What conditions are TENS machines used for? These devices have been shown by a variety of studies to be effective for the treatment of many different kinds of pain from a variety of different conditions. They are most commonly used to treat pain from issues like:

  •         Osteoarthritis
  •         Fibromyalgia
  •         Back pain (lower and upper)
  •         Neck pain and shoulder pain
  •         Tendonitis
  •         Bursitis

It can also, however, be used to treat many other conditions ranging from mild and sudden to serious and chronic. Other conditions that TENS therapy can treat include:

  •         Headaches
  •         Nerve pain
  •         Poor circulation
  •         Muscle tension
  •         Knee, elbow and joint pain
  •         Pain associated with cancer
  •         Labor pain
  •         Injury and wound pain

TENS therapy often results in instant relief of pain in the affected areas and in many cases, this relief remains for a prolonged period. It works by sending relief directly to the site of the pain, does not require drugs or invasive procedures, and can be used as an important component in physical therapy and treatment of pain from a wide range of conditions.

Some people experience permanent relief following several sessions of TENS therapy, while others will require ongoing therapy to maintain relief. The effectiveness depends on a range of situations, including the specific condition, the intensity of pain and the intensity of the treatment.

Who Shouldn’t Use TENS Devices?

There are a number of patients who should avoid using a TENS device. These contraindications include those patients who cannot co-operate or don’t understand their doctor’s or the device instructions; those who have a pacemaker; those who are allergic to the gel, tape or electrodes.

Pregnant women should take care when exploring TENS therapy, as the information is still preliminary about its safety during pregnancy. Likewise, patients with epilepsy should take care and only seek TENS therapy under the close supervision of a physician.

In addition, patients with open wounds should not place electrodes over the wounds themselves, nor should electrodes be placed over lesions from dermatological conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Electrodes should never be placed over the eyes, and it is advised the epiphyseal regions in children should be avoided.

Get More Information

If you’d like to explore more about how TENS devices can be used to treat pain, read TENS Machine: This is Everything You Need to Know and explore our website for more help, information, and access to a range of at-home treatment options.

If you purchased a TENS Unit find out how to use it in the article How to Use a TENS Machine - And How to Know You're Using it Properly.



  1. Healthline. “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit” http://www.healthline.com/health/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulation-unit#sideeffects3
  2. Physio-pedia. “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).” http://www.physio-pedia.com/Transcutaneous_Electrical_Nerve_Stimulation_(TENS)
  3. Spine-health. “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS).” http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulators-tens
  4. WebMD. “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – Topic Overview.” http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulation-tens-topic-overview
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