What is a Tens Unit and How Do You Use it?

Perhaps your doctor sent you home with a TENS unit. This treatment can be used to help lesson chronic pain such as lower back pain and more. Read on for tips on usage and other informative details.

What Is a TENS Unit?

In the most general sense, a TENS unit is a medical device that can act as a portable pain reduction treatment that makes use of small and very controlled bursts of electrical energy/currents. These medical devices operate with low voltage electrical current. Patients report a slight tingling sensation during the treatment.

These devices run on batteries making it simple to use when traveling. A small clip can be secured onto the patient’s belt or waistband. Electrodes transfer the electrical current from the TENS device to patient by way of self-adhesive backed sticky patches.

What Are the Possible Benefits of a TENS Unit?

The benefits of a TENS unit are its portability, discrete design and compact size for easy transport usage. This device may decrease need for stronger or addictive pain medications. It’s relatively safe when used correctly with few side effects.

What Conditions Can a TENS Unit Help Treat?

A TENS unit can be used to help treat these conditions that include:

  • Back or Neck Pain
  • Labor Pains
  • Monthly Periods Discomfort
  • Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
  • Arthritis
  • Post-Operative Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Endometriosis
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sports Related Injuries
  • Promote Wound Healing
  • Chronic Pain

How to Use a TENS Unit Correctly

  1. Location of the electrode patches depends on where pain is and type of pain. Your doctor orders this.
  2. Make sure batteries are charged.
  3. Turn both control knobs off before use.
  4. Clean skin where electrodes will be placed with rubbing alcohol and air dry.
  5. Apply thin gel layer on back of patch and secure with medical tape.
  6. Hook pin connectors and plug electrodes into unit.
  7. Slowly turn control knobs to correct settings – should feel tingling. (1 knob for weak/strong & 1 knob for slow/fast)
  8. Hook unit to belt/waist or place in pocket/pouch.

Can you overuse a Tens unit?

Yes, never overuse your TENS unit. Doing so can cause skin irritation, possible muscle soreness and twitching or undesired sensations.


Never use around water or while asleep. Don’t use on abdomen if pregnant or on neck if diagnosed with seizures. Those with pacemakers or other electrical/metal implant should not use this device. Avoid wounds or areas with malignant cancer.

To learn more about Tens units, give us a call at 801-676-0243 or click here.

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