Home > Alternative Treatments > TENS Machines

TENS Machines

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 17 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a well known method of controlling pain. It works by applying electrodes to the body at specific points through which are delivered electrical impulses. These impulses block the pain messages sent to the brain by increasing the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, which are faster in transmission than pain messages.

The devices are highly recommended in the presence of chronic pain conditions, particularly of the lower back when sciatica, arthritis, lumbago and strains and sprains have occurred.They are safe for long-term use, with no side-effects and can help lower or eliminate the need for analgesic medications.


Always seek advice before using a device if pregnant, ask your midwife or GP for recommended uses of a TENS machine.Effectiveness varies from person to person, depending on their perception of pain, their compliance with the device and their expected outcomes.

Devices can come with either three or four electrodes, and the placement of these electrodes can be altered between different users. It can take a little experimentation of trying the electrodes in different areas before a suitable effect is gained.It takes roughly one hour of use before the maximum benefit is experienced, a point to be considered before trying to sleep.The use of a TENS machine is not recommended when the person has a pacemaker fitted and advice should be sought if epilepsy has been diagnosed.

Never apply the electrode pads to areas of broken skin or where there is a rash. The adhesive gel on the pads may exacerbate symptoms. TENS machines should not be used in the presence of water for obvious safety reasons.

Where Can a TENS Machine be Bought?

Before buying a TENS machine, it is suggested that a machine is hired first to determine whether this therapy is beneficial to the sufferer. Your GP, Physiotherapist, Orthopaedic Specialist or pain team should be able to tell you where these machines can be hired from. Many NHS Trusts rent them out to users at a minimal cost, sometimes at no charge, depending on circumstances.

There are many retailers that sell TENS machines and prices vary from £20 to £200, so it is worth shopping around. Prices also suggest the facilities of the device. Some have varying impulse rates, others have varying duration of impulse delivery and many have both.

The size and the controls on the machine can also be reflected in the price. If the user is intending on being highly mobile whilst using the device, a small portable machine will be more beneficial. Some machines come with buttons, others with dials; it is the individuals choice as to which they prefer and can operate most easily.

When going to purchase a machine, take a letter from your GP recommending a device is purchased as some retailers offer discounts to NHS patients.

Healthcare professionals have been recommending the use of TENS machines for many years. If the user perseveres and tries alternating the position of the electrodes, a great deal of benefit can be gained by using this equipment.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kumar
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    What is the surgical procedure of disc dehydration
    9 March 2018
  • BackPainExpert
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    Rich - Your Question:Hi, I have L4L5 Annular Tear, with leg/foot pain. I would be very interested in taking part, the USA…
    28 February 2018
  • Rich
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    Hi, I have L4L5 Annular Tear, with leg/foot pain. I would be very interested in taking part, the USA have been doing these…
    26 February 2018
  • Melv
    Re: Back Pain and Hernia
    Hernia ,17/02/2018 struggling with this complaint,could not walk for a hour, pain from Hernia ,took 2 lots of pain tablets ,since then pain…
    21 February 2018
  • Marco Caravati
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    Dear all can you please let me know where are we with this new treatment from Arthrokinetics? Are we already in phase…
    25 January 2018
  • Robino
    Re: Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Tumours
    MSCC Hi I've finally had a Cervical MRI for never ending right neck/shoulder pain with accompanying pins & needles.…
    6 January 2018
  • Daryl
    Re: Spinal Dislocation
    I have chronic lower back pain due to a dislocated vertebrae witch is fused to a second vertebrae in witch is rubbing on a therd due to an old…
    1 January 2018
  • BackPainExpert
    Re: Back Pain and Hernia
    Janet - Your Question:I've had hernia surgery 4th of December 2017, they called it a Ventral hernia. Well I've been dealing wit horrible…
    11 December 2017
  • Janet
    Re: Back Pain and Hernia
    I've had hernia surgery 4th of December 2017, they called it a Ventral hernia. Well I've been dealing wit horrible lower back pain that has…
    10 December 2017
  • Harry
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    Dear can anybody tell me what happens with me When i bend forward to push flush of washroom then i experience some force pull me forward and after…
    6 December 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the BackPainExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.