What Is A TENS Device?

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulus, is a device that is growing popular as a replacement for oral pain killers and injections. TENS acts directly on the nerves under the skin, especially those where the electrodes are placed. It sends or replaces the negative impulses to the brain by positive ones from the affected areas of your body and you feel relieved after some time.


The device consists of a battery pack of rechargeable units. It is a small and lightweight device, and will vary a little in dimensions and weight across manufacturers. There are a couple of pairs of electrodes that have a rubber base that sticks to your skin. Sometimes, they have self-adhesive or you can additionally apply gel to maintain zero air gap between the patches and your body.

  • The main unit must comprise of a few controls and the normal ones have a speed and a strength knob. You must adjust them accordingly as advised by your physician or can try on your own, safely.

The skin must be cleaned prior to its usage, Use rubbing alcohol or gel based cleansing products. It also enhances the transfer of electrical impulses efficiently.


There are many occasions to use a TENS device like in case of any sports related injury to your ankle or spine. It is very portable and hence, is preferred to be carried along. It is helpful in neck pain, waist pain, shoulder pain, hand sprains, knee pain, but not in chest pain or heart conditions. There are also many other precautionary measures.

  • TENS is also advised in some serious medical conditions like arthritis and for women during their delivery to cope up with the labor pains. There are procedures to affix the electrodes at the back and the lower back to help with alleviate the pain.
  • Medical practitioners usually advise around 30 minutes of continuous stimulation and about 4-5 times per day of usage.


This device must be used as per the prescription of your physician. You must also consult your doctor before buying any TENS device because there are many unapproved and uncertified products in the market.

  • Your doctor must assess your specific condition and recommend you the settings, duration and frequency of usage per day and this is supposed to vary for every user based on their diagnosis.
  • Over usage might lead to side effects like sore skin or reduced sensitivity in that particular part of your body. It is therefore, strongly advised not to use it while or prior to sleeping.
  • Check the battery level of your TENS unit prior to beginning. You must also properly prepare the electrodes before attaching them. Clean them properly with soap and water and do not use alcohol based solutions that might react with the rubber base. Also, regularly replace the rubber bases.

TENS can also be used as a long-lasting method because of direct penetration at the source of pain. It is also gaining popularity because of being non-invasive or non-intrusive solution.