A man holding a TENS unit

32 Uses of TENS Units

Breaking down the conditions TENS units alleviate pain from, all backed by studies, experts, and actual users.


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Physical pain is inevitable in life; we all experience it. WebMD reports that at least 100 million Americans and more than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. TENS Units offer a holistic pain relief method for many conditions. They’re a proven pain management solution commonly used by physical therapists and chiropractors to block pain.

We’ve broken many of these uses down into three sections:

  • What studies say: Clinical studies conducted to study the effectiveness of these devices on various body parts and certain conditions.
  • What experts say: Range from healthcare professionals such as chiropractors and physical therapists to industry-leading publications.
  • What users say: Reviews and advice on forums from users who have used TENS therapy firsthand.

The studies we’ve collected provide tangible evidence of TENS therapy effectiveness. Expert insights give us an explanation for the role these devices play. User feedback gives us a first-hand account of this treatment's effectiveness.

A foot being held with red showing pain


Neuropathy is a nerve condition in which damage or dysfunction of the nerves causes feelings of numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain. It typically starts in the hands and feet but can spread to other areas.

Using a TENS unit for peripheral neuropathy is recommended by the Foundation of Peripheral Neuropathy and Cleveland Clinic. Its ability to block nerves from sending pain signals to the brain allows users to target and alleviate pain.

What Studies Say About TENS Treatment for Neuropathy

  • A 1999 study found TENS therapy to treat the pain of a patient with diabetic neuropathy. 80 Hz of TENS for neuropathy was applied for 20 minutes/day. After 17 days of treatment, the patient reported no pain and was able to sleep through the night.
  • A 2020 article published in Evidence-Based Practice looked at a systematic review involving 207 adult participants with neuropathy pain resulting from spinal cord injury, sciatica, and postherpetic neuralgia. The findings concluded that TENS “may reduce pain 1 to 2 more points on a 10-point pain scale compared with sham TENS treatments.”
  • A 2010 evidence-based review of the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology concluded that TENS is “probably effective” in relieving pain from diabetic neuropathy. It recommended TENS for consideration for this condition.
  • A 2010 meta-analysis involving 78 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) found TENS therapy to reduce the average pain scores significantly more compared to a placebo after four and six weeks of treatment. The pain was significantly reduced after 12 weeks. Additionally, no adverse effects were reported.

What Experts Say - “Does tens help neuropathy?”

  • “TENS therapy can be used to treat pain from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, spinal cord injuries, and neuropathy. It is considered to be a safe treatment for most people” - Dr. Rabih Kashouty, Board-Certified Physician, Premier Neurology Center
  • Nerve pain (neuropathy) from conditions such as chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or diabetes may also be managed with TENS.” - Rocky Mountain Therapy Services
  • “Another option for PDN is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With TENS, low-voltage electrical currents are delivered directly to the area of pain or at pressure points. Clinical studies assessing the efficacy of TENS have shown encouraging results for pain relief.” - Vincent R. Forte, MD, in Physician’s Weekly

What Users Say About Using a TENS unit for Feet Neuropathy

  • Electronic therapy devices are so helpful for many types of treatments like pain treatment.” - Jessiturner in the Diabetes Daily Forum
  • Occasionally I use this on the bottoms of my feet, for up to 20 minutes – like you would for muscle soreness. It seems to help.” - LADA_lady in the Tu Diabetes Forum
  • This thing is like a miracle drug. I started using it today, and I can stand, walk and get up from squatting without difficulty.” - snookie12303 in the Neuro Talk Forum
A woman on a couch with menstrual pain

Period (Menstrual Pain)

Period pain occurs from hormonal substances known as prostaglandins triggering muscle contractions. And because TENS therapy can be used to target muscle pain, it’s commonly used for more moderate menstrual pain as well. There are a few specialized TENS units for cramps. However, standard TENS units will suffice.

To use TENS for period pain relief, place the electrodes on the lower stomach and lower back regions to target the pain.

What Studies Say - “Do TENS Machines Work for Period Pain?”

  • A 2017 study of TENS therapy on 67 women with primary dysmenorrhea (cramping pain) compared to a placebo group. The study concluded that TENS units for menstrual pain are “efficacious and safe.”
  • 22 women with chronic pelvic pain and deep dyspareunia experienced significant pain relief after using TENS therapy during an eight-week study.
  • An overview of various studies concluded that “previous studies demonstrated the positive effects of TENS in reducing pain and related PD symptoms, the improvement of the quality of life, and the decreased use of additional analgesics.
  • A 2002 Cochrane review found high-frequency TENS to effectively reduce menstrual pain. 
  • A seven-day study compared 30 minutes of 85 Hz TENS therapy to a placebo and found the treatment “induced a prompt onset of pain relief and improved the quality of life” of patients with painful cramps. A three-month follow-up found that 14/20 women continued using their TENS unit for period cramps and pain regularly without any adverse effects.
  • 64 high school students aged 14 to 18 were divided into groups, one receiving TENS and the other a placebo on the first day of their menstrual cycle. Not only did the TENS group experience less pain, but the treatment reduced the use of pain-relieving drugs. The study found the need for pain-killers was reduced by an average of 5.28 hours compared to 2.42 hours with the placebo TENS.

What Experts Say About Using TENS Machines for Period Pain

  • I have been prescribing them for well over 10 years. I probably prescribe 1-2 a week, sometimes more.” - Dr. Jen Gunter, OBGYN & Pain Medicine Physician
  • “The method of use is relatively simple, the price is low, and the electrical current used is low, so it isn’t dangerous to learn and use it by yourself.” - Hyunhey Lee, PT, DPT at BreakThrough Physical Therapy
  • “This modality appears to be a useful alternative in women who cannot or will not take oral analgesics. The degree of pain relief obtained with TENS therapy alone is lower than that with drugs” - Roger P. Smith, MD, Robert A. Munsick Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology in Contemporary OB/GYN
  • We recommend those to lots of people with endometriosis who have really severely painful periods” - Devon Klauck, WHNP in NY Mag

What Users Say About TENS for Period Pain

  • After my very first treatment, I’d felt more pain relief and had more mobility than I’d had in a long time. And I’d finally gotten a good night’s sleep.” - Gabrielle Lichterman, Women’s Health Journalist on MyHormonology.com
  • I have tried TENS before and found it useful” - Buddingblond in the Money Savings Expert forum
  • “I use one too and find it very effective. Also used mine during labour with my eldest son - what a godsend!” - HEJC72 in the UK Campsite forum
  • Period cramps. GONE. I got this for stomach pain due to gastroparesis but now I use it for everything. I’ve always tried to avoid using pills when I have pain and this is perfect quick relief when I’m cramping or my stomach hurts my back. I keep it by my bed and constantly use it” - Susanq on a TENS 7000 Amazon review
A woman experiencing pregnancy pain

Pregnancy & Labour Pain

For those looking for pain relief without medications, TENS therapy offers a potential solution. While the results have been mixed, a few studies, experts, and users have found relief in using a TENS unit during labor or while pregnant.

What Studies Say - “Can you use a TENS unit while pregnant?”

  • A 2012 study divided 57 pregnant women with lower back pain into four groups: a control group and three treatment groups using acetaminophen, exercise, and TENS. The study found that 57% of the control group experienced increased pain, whereas TENS therapy was more efficient at pain relief than acetaminophen and exercise.
  • A study applied 30 minutes of TENS therapy to women in the first active stage of labor and found the treatment minimized pain and postponed the need for pharmacological analgesia without any adverse side effects.

What Experts Say About TENS Units & Pregnancy

  • “TENS has been used for many years by pregnant women to manage pain in labour without any reported side-effects for either Mother or baby…The TENS works best and gives you the most effective pain relief if you use it at the very beginning of your labour. This gives your body time to produce endorphins.” - Physiotherapy Department at Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia
  • “While there is no harm is using a TENS machine, there is not a lot of evidence to show they are effective but some women find them helpful.” - The Royal Women’s Hospital

What Users Say

  • “I’ve used a TENS for pain twice, and had no other pain relief. It doesn’t take the pain completely away, but using TENS certainly helps!” - Hestia on Belly Belly
  • “Used TENS unit for my spontaneous forceps delivery with my daughter and my induced boy/girl twin delivery earlier this year. I found them very useful and would use the TENS unit again. I had unmedicated births both times.” - Dollyroux on Belly Belly
  • My experiences with it are conflicted, but I am glad that I used it and had it as an option. It is a good thing to be aware of and keep in mind, along with your other pain relief techniques.” - Kristen Winiarski on Baby-Chick.com
A person holding their foot in pain

Foot Drop

Foot drop is a condition that makes foot and/or toes movement difficult. It’s typically a result of damage to the nerve that controls the muscles used for foot movement. And because it’s nerve-related pain, TENS therapy is a potential solution.

What Studies Say

  • We’re still looking for studies to provide insight.

What Experts Say

  • Common treatments for foot drop include…a small device that's put in your body and uses electrical signals to help your nerves work (electrical nerve stimulation) – especially if you've had a stroke or have multiple sclerosis” - National Health Service

What Users Say

  • We’re still looking for users to provide insight.
A person sitting on a couch with a foot in a cast

Stress Fracture

A stress fracture occurs when small cracks form in the bone. This is typically a result of repetitive force or actions such as jumping or running. While TENS units do not promote healing, they offer a drug-free alternative for pain relief while healing.

What Studies Say

  • We’re still looking for studies to provide insight.

What Experts Say About TENS Units & Stress Fractures

  • “TENS devices are great for relieving chronic and acute pain, such as from fractures” - FractureHealing.ca

What Users Say

A woman holding her sciatic nerve in pain


Sciatica is a nerve pain-related condition caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower back down one or both legs. Experts find that using a TENS machine for sciatica allows users to incorporate exercises as the pain has been alleviated.

What Studies Say About TENS for Sciatica - “Does a TENS unit help sciatica pain?”

  • A ten-week study found TENS devices for sciatica to relieve sciatic pain in 40 participants given treatment three times a week in one-hour sessions.
  • 58 patients with chronic pain from sciatica were recruited and divided into two groups: Group A (29 using a TENS unit for sciatica pain) and group B (28 using Kati Basti). After ten weeks, both groups showed increased pain relief in the straight leg raise test. However, the group using TENS treatment for sciatic pain experienced substantially more relief.

What Experts Say About Using TENS Units for Sciatic Nerve Pain

  • “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can be a good way to help relieve sciatic pain so stretches and exercises can be done that are needed to help the healing process.” - Doctor Jo, Physical Therapist
  • Approximately 70% to 80% of patients experience pain relief during their initial use of TENS unit for sciatica. The success rate drops to 20% to 30% after a few months. However, if the initial relief of pain allows the introduction of gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching, TENS unit therapy can ultimately lead to very long-lasting relief.” - PainDoctor.com

What Users Say - “Is a TENS machine Good for Sciatica?”

  • “My uncle has been using it on his hamstring near the sciatic nerve for best results. He also puts in on his lower back. The thing about this thing is that it is portable, and I think that's key. He's also reduced the intake of pain killers.” - sm87975 in the Patient.info forum
  • “I purchased my own and use it every time I have pain and it works for me. (floorcovering installer 20+years) lower back and sciatica. They work different on some people you may not get any relief from it or you may love it like I do. Try it. If it works it's a plus NO DRUGS.” - Glen517 in Brian Enos’s Forums
  • “Tens pain relief machines are very effective for mobile pain management. You can carry the portable tens machines with ease and use anywhere.” - jacobstyn in the Diabetes.co.uk forum
  • “If the pain gets worse try a tens unit or a interferential unit . This will help block some of the pain.” michaelc10 in the Rokslide forum
A man experiencing shin splints while sitting on concrete

Shin Splints

Shin splint pain occurs along or just behind the shinbone from being subjected to increased workload. The pain occurs anywhere along the lower leg from the knee to the ankle. This type of injury is common in activities that involve sudden stops and starts. Studies in regards to using TENS machines for shin splints are limited.

What Studies Say

  • We’re still looking for studies to provide insight.

What Experts Say

  • “TENS unit stimulation can increase blood flow to the area to help the body heal. Strengthening the muscles in the leg can help make your body less susceptible to the microtears that can cause shin splints.” - Whatcom Physical Therapy

What Users Say

  • “I really wish I had ordered it sooner, it's amazing! I'm using it for a pinched nerve in my neck and shin spin splints and I'm so happy with it. I noticed a difference almost immediately.” - Isabel on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I get really tight it my calves (shin splints) and my shoulder (lifting weights), and I have tried numerous massage guns. This has by far relieved muscle pain. It’s very easy to use, there’s no holding on to anything like a massage gun.” - Chris Overall on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A man holding his toe experiencing pain from plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition in which the tissues connecting the heel bone to the toes become inflamed. This causes a stabbing sensation which might worsen in the morning. Treatment for this condition is typically self-treatable. Using a TENS unit on your feet for plantar fasciitis has been found to provide relief.

What Studies Say

  • 13 patients with plantar fasciitis experience pain relief and improvements in functional activity levels after four weeks of using a TENS unit for plantar fasciitis. A three-month follow-up showed the same results.

What Experts Say - “Can you use a TENS unit on plantar fasciitis?”

  • “It essentially uses a low frequency electrical current to stimulate the affected area of the plantar fascia. The aim is to improve blood flow through the area. In addition, a TENS unit uses the resulting nerve stimulation to block the pain signals produced by the condition.” - Dunbar Medical

What Users Say

  • I decided to try this for my plantar fasciitis and it has given me some much needed relief.” - Peggy Deihl on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “Severe Plantar Fasciitis. The Tens 7000 really does the job. Great relief from the pain. I will recommend it to family and friends.” - Sheila B. on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “Felt just like it does at my PT's office, minus the co-pay! Glad I ordered this. I think it will save a ton in the long run and help me do the things I need to do for my plantar fasciitis more often by giving me the flexibility of doing this at home rather than the PT's office.” - R S on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A doctor pointing to a spine

Herniated and Bulging Disc

Herniated and bulging discs are spine conditions in which the discs are affected. With herniated discs, the outer covering of the disc has a hole/tear whereas bulging discs bulge outward. 

TENS units can be placed around the disc affected to block pain and release endorphins. Using a TENS unit for a bulging disc involves placing the pads around the area in pain to allow the electrical through the disc.

What Studies Say

  • A 100-patient study divided participants with lumbar disc herniation-induced sciatica into two groups: one group receiving traction and other basic therapies and another group receiving electrical stimulation. The study found electrical stimulation to relieve pain and alleviate symptoms.
  • A 39-patient study found using a TENS unit for herniated discs relieves pain and improves function and mobility for those with degenerative disc disease in the lumbosacral spine.

What Experts Say

  • “TENS is an electrical stimulation unit that can aid with the muscle spasm and pain associated with a slipped disk.” - Dr. Seth Neubardt, MD
  • “The TENS machine uses an electrical current that triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.” - Achieve Therapy and Fitness
  • “A mild electrical pulse is delivered through the skin to the nerves as close to the area of pain as possible. The patient controls the signal with a small, cell phone-sized power pack. The electrical signal disrupts pain signals and can offer significant pain relief. Many patients find that a TENS unit relieves pain when other options do not.” - Arizona Pain
  • “Conservative therapy often begins with medication and physical therapy. In some cases, restricted activities may be necessary until the pain subsides. Treatments include...Electrotherapy. Treatment often includes using a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS).” - Novus Spine & Pain Center

What Users Say

  • I am a LBP sufferer as well and I love my TENS unit. It helps me a lot.” - Russel Ledwell on Quora
  • “I have a large l4 l5 herniation. Soon after the injury, when I was in constant unbearable pain, the TENS machine got me through some rough days. When your pain is severe and constant the TENS seems to confuse some of your nerve signals and can be a good distraction from your actual pain.” - LincolnHawkReddit on Reddit
A doctor checking a person’s blood pressure

High Blood Pressure

An unfortunate side effect of pain is high blood pressure. Pain can ramp up the nervous system, thus raising blood pressure. TENS units can lower blood pressure by reducing pain being felt.

What Studies Say About TENS Units and High Blood Pressure

  • A twelve-patient study involving the administration of 30-minute sessions for four weeks found TENS treatment to reduce blood pressure in patients with therapy-resistant hypertension. The researchers concluded that “continuous TENS may have additional blood pressure-lowering properties in hypertensive patients who do not respond properly to pharmacological treatment.”
  • A 40-patient study found TENS therapy at acupuncture points to be effective in reducing blood pressure for those recovering from open-heart surgery. The treatment helped lower heart rates and reduced the number of medications needed.
  • A study involving 13 healthy young men found TENS therapy improves resting heart rates while aids in better blood pressure regulation.
  • Sixty patients aged 30-65 diagnosed with essential hypertension were recruited and studied. Each patient was divided into two groups: one receiving TENS and the other a sham TENS. The TENS group showed significant reductions in blood pressure.

What Experts Say

  • We’re still looking for experts to provide insight.

What Users Say

  • We’re still looking for users to provide insight.
Two cartoon arms with text, “elbow bursitis”


Bursitis is a condition in which the bursae in the joints become inflamed. The purpose of bursae is to reduce friction in joints by providing a cushion between the tissues. While studies are limited, many experts and users recommend using TENS units for elbow bursitis and other joints in which this condition occurs.

What Studies Say

  • We’re still looking for studies to provide insight.

What Experts Say - “Does a TENS Machine Help Bursitis?”

What Users Say

  • “Just bought a tens unit for my trochanteric bursitis, and I remembered there was a thread about it. There is real science behind the tens tingling. It does help my bursitis, which burns in my right hip a fair part of the day. I have used this thing twice, and I have had incredible relief after being on my feet all day mopping floors.” - rickandcindy23 in the TUG BBS forum
  • “I had bursitis in my shoulder for a couple months. Besides the pain it was weak to lift. I used a TENS unit a few times a day for a few days and it went away completely.” - mary ann in the Scoliosis.org forum
  • “I had that early on near my hardware. My doctor called it a "bursa" which grows over the hardware and said if it didn't go away it could be injected. I used the TENS machine right over it - it helped.” - Karen Ocker in the Scoliosis.org forum
A man experiencing neck pain holding his neck

Acute Pain

Acute pain is characterized as being sharp or sudden. It is short-lived and goes away once the cause is no longer there. TENS therapy for acute pain offers an easy method of relief. It can be used instead of traditional pain killers without the potential side effects. And because acute pain is typically minor, TENS therapy is a great match.

What Studies Say

  • A published report titled “Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence” stated TENS therapy is “an inexpensive nonpharmacological intervention used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions.”
  • A clinical review involving 19 clinical trials and 1346 participants concluded that TENS treatment might reduce acute pain intensity. However, the evidence quality was weak.
  • A Cochran systematic review found preliminary evidence that TENS treatment reduces pain over no treatment for acute pain.
  • A study examining acute and chronic pain after varicocelectomy concluded that TENS therapy could “efficiently decrease pain degree for hours, weeks, and months.”

What Experts Say

  • Commonwealth Musulosekletal Medicine states, “If you’re suffering from pain, either chronic or acute, TENS therapy may be what you need to get more comfortable. Whether you’ve suffered an injury from a sporting event or you’re dealing with osteoarthritis, this treatment can help.”
  • “TENS can be used for acute post-surgical pain, chronic intractable pain, and virtually anything in between” - Dr. Tiziano Marovino, DPT, MPH, DAIPM, in an interview with Practical Pain Management
  • Ascend Physical Therapy and Wellness describes TENS therapy as “a treatment for pain that can be used for acute pain.” 

What Users Say

  • Great for short term acute back pain relief. The key is short term. This product will not eliminate or reduce back pain in the long term. However if you have acute pain, this thing beats aspirin or topical creams in a second and will probably provide an hour or two of relief.” - Michael Vadnais on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • Ideal for chronic and acute pain management. I use it 3-4 times a week and the pads I ordered are reusable and lasts 10+ sessions. I work on my feet for 12 hours a day as a RN and experience a lot of back pain and shoulder pain, the TENS unit loosens up my tight aching muscles and allows me to do my job and continue exercising and Yoga without pain.” - PSIMPSON… on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • This unit helps me to manage acute pain with less drugs. This and an exercise ball as a chair have helped me get stuff done, and function partially thus far.” - C Leigh Ann Meche on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
An elderly woman holding her shoulders with chronic pain

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, unlike acute pain, is long-lasting and usually, a sign of a more severe condition. When comparing TENS treatment to medications, both studies and users have found TENS to be more suitable as it has few side effects, is targeted, and is customizable.

What Studies Say

  • A study comparing TENS with heat therapy and pain relief medication found the combination to reduce pain by 32%, whereas the pain medication group saw an increase in medication intake.
  • A systematic review involving 381 studies and a combined 24,532 participants concluded “moderate-certainty evidence” that TENS therapy lowers acute and chronic pain during or immediately compared to a placebo with no adverse side effects.
  • A 107-patient study on the effects of TENS usage long-term found this treatment to reduce pain by half in 47% of the participants. One-third of the patients used TENS for over 61 hours per week.

What Experts Say

  • Bomber Chiropractic states, “If you experience chronic pain, TENS can provide lasting pain relief without the need for invasive treatments or powerful medications.
  • Cleveland Clinic states, “TENS therapy has been used or is being studied to relieve both chronic (long-lasting) and acute (short-term) pain.”
  • University of Iowa Health Care found TENS to be most effective for chronic pain when used for 30 minutes while active.
  • VeryWell Health writes that “TENS can be used to relieve chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) pain and muscles cramps from various conditions.

What Users Say

  • I have been using TENS for back and knee issues for many years, with good results.” - CindyDavid4 in the Healing Well forum
  • “I’ve been using for months for chronic pain in my hips. Helps control pain without using pain killers.” - TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • This is the best I have found for chronic shoulder pain. It doesn't cure anything but it has sure helped. With about 10 minutes treatment before bed and I can finally sleep well.” - elsrocky on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A man with elbow pain

Tennis & Golfer's Elbow

Tennis and golfer’s elbow are conditions caused by repetitive motions in which swelling or tearing of the tendons occur. Tennis elbow pain occurs on the inside of the elbow and golfer’s elbow pain occurs on the inside.

What Studies Say - “Will a TENS Unit Help Tennis Elbow?”

  • A 2015 study looking at the cost-effectiveness of prescribing TENS units found using a TENS unit for tennis elbow is an effective pain relief method.
  • A 2013 study involving 241 patients found TENS therapy to relieve tennis elbow pain however concluded that not enough evidence was presented to recommend this treatment.
  • TENS may prove to be a suitable intervention for tennis elbow as it may help to reduce pain in the early stages of the condition” - TATE trial

What Experts Say

  • Masnad Health Clinic recommends using a TENS unit for golfer’s elbow.
  • Motion PT Group uses TENS therapy for golfer’s elbow for pain relief. They also use TENS units for circulation to improve blood flow to the injury.
  • “A TENS / EMS Unit can be a great tool for helping to relieve tennis elbow & golfer's elbow pain.” - Dr. Jo, Physical Therapist
  • “TENS machines are useful in back pain and for women in childbirth but not so practical for tennis elbow. It is difficult to apply the TENS electrodes to the elbow for it to be effective.” - Ranjan Vhadra, MBBS, FRCS, FRCS

What Users Say

  • “They work OK. Ultrasound is more effective if you are looking to invest in a machine but you need to learn how to properly use it.” - mikeler in the Tennis Warehouse forum
  • “I had it BAD for a bout 2.5 years. It started from my draw length being too short and over shooting. Had two steroid shots and PT for three months (made it worse). I stopped shooting and started using a TENS unit. Finally slowly went away.” - TyT10 in the Archery Talk forum
  • “I had a problem with my right arm. Nothing really fixed it. Physio, Doctors, Acupuncture, Chiropractors, You name it. The only thing that helped with the pain was a tens machine.” - SuzieQNutter in the Chronicle of the Horse forum
A man holding his neck in pain

Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical Radiculopathy, also called a pinched nerve, happens when a nerve in the neck becomes compressed or irritated. The pinched nerve can cause pain to radiate into the shoulder and arm regions and cause muscle weakness and numbness.

What Studies Say

  • A 30-patient study comparing TENS to intermittent cervical traction and neck exercises found TENS with exercise to be more effective in improving daily living activities than exercise alone.
  • A study found using a TENS unit for cervical radiculopathy to be more effective when paired with cervical manual traction than cervical manual traction alone.
  • A 2022 systematic review indicated that TENS therapy combined with other conservative treatments such as exercise therapy and cervical traction for three months is beneficial long-term and avoids the risk of surgery.
  • A 75-patient study compared TENS to Cervical Spinal Mobilization and found both treatments equally effective in reducing pain and improving functional outcomes.

What Experts Say

  • Lazare Urology lists TENS therapy as a treatment for cervical radiculopathy.

What Users Say

  • “After years of NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, narcotics, benzodiazepines, and moving on to chiropractors and a fabulously effective massage therapist, I have minimal pain. This is after 15 years of finding what works for me.” - Jeff Dible in the Permies forum
  • “Started PT with traction/TENS/heat pack. not sure traction helped but the TENS and heat was great...so much I bought a TENS unit and started doing my own PT stuff at home.” - Todd in the Vulcan Bagger forum
An elderly woman holding her wrist from arthritis


Arthritis, with over 100 types, is a joint condition that can affect one’s ability to move. The most common symptoms include joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion. While this type of condition does not have a cure, the pain associated with it can be treated. TENS for arthritis can be used to target joints and relieve pain to bring back mobility.

What Studies Say - “Is a TENS Unit Good for Arthritis?”

  • When asking “does a TENS unit help arthritis pain,” a 2015 Cochrane review found that TENS therapy minimizes pain intensity more effectively than a placebo. The review concluded that an estimated 50% of those who try using a TENS unit for arthritis achieve a 50% pain reduction.
  • When studying the effects of using a TENS unit for rheumatoid arthritis in hands, a review study found AL-TENS beneficial for pain reduction, whereas C-TENS was not.
  • A study found that using a TENS unit for osteoarthritis of the knee improves mobility and relieves pain in patients.

What Experts Say - “Can a TENS Unit Help Arthritis?”

  • Arthritis Foundation recommends TENS therapy to treat osteoarthritis pain, citing that “TENS helps acute and chronic pain. TENS has been shown to relieve osteoarthritis (OA) pain and reduce the need for pain medications.
  • TENS should be considered for arthritic pain — it is inexpensive, safe and easy to use, and part of a self-management strategy for people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions that gives a person the ability to control their pain,” - Kathleen Sluka, PT, PhD in a Creaky Joints interview
  • Versus Arthritis recommends TENS treatment for arthritis, citing that “TENS is safe, so you can use it as much as you like, although it's good practice to take regular 10-minute breaks every hour or so. Some people use TENS for more than five hours a day.”
  • Cleveland Clinic identifies and recommends TENS treatment to manage osteoarthritis pain.
  • Medical News Today approves of the use of TENS machines for arthritis pain relief.

What Users Say - “Can a TENS Machine Help Arthritis?”

  • “I have had osteoarthritis since my mid 20's ( I am 64 now)...It really helps when it is on and I can even walk without screaming after I put it on. I usually leave it running for an hour at a time. It feels good while I am using it and then the relief last for some time. When I start hurting again, I just turn it on for another session.” - Daynejule in the Patient Forum
  • “I've had some issues with my fretting hand that I attribute to arthritis. I've used a "TENS unit" for similar pains elsewhere and it seems to help here as well. A TENS unit provides gentle and rhythmic electrical stimulation to the area. Even if it doesn't 'fix the problem" it feels good.” - BBegall in the Ukulele Underground forum
A woman holding her ankle in pain from tendonitis


Tendonitis (also called tendinitis) is an inflammatory condition in which tendons swell up. This condition is typically caused by repetitive motion and can make movement painful.

TENS for tendonitis is frequently recommended and used by healthcare professionals because of the safety and how often they can be used without harmful side effects. While studies are inconclusive, many users report success using a TENS machine for tendonitis pain relief.

What What Studies Say - “Do TENS Machines Help Tendonitis?”

  • A study comparing TPRF and TENS found both treatments effective and safe in treating tendonitis pain, with TPRF being superior.
  • A review on the effectiveness of TENS in treating osteoarthritis found it beneficial but felt more research was needed.

What Experts Say

  • I recommend them for a variety of medical conditions and injuries such as: chronic cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar pain, tendonitis, ankle sprains, and sports injuries.” - Jennifer Perry, Physical Therapist
  • Cleveland Clinic recommends using a tens unit for tendonitis pain relief.
  • In their article titled “Is a Tens Unit Effective for Peroneal Tendon Pain?”, AZ Central explains that TENS devices can be used as a treatment method for tendonitis and that they “can be used as a pain reliever for almost any part of the body.”
  • University of Rochester Medical Center cites TENS therapy as a relief method for tendonitis and that treatment “can be done as often as needed, depending on the case.”

What Users Say

  • When the physical therapist used hers on me, I had no pain in that leg for much of the rest of the day. It was a nice respite.” - CathyA in the Simple Living forum
  • A TENS unit will help a great deal. Apply the contact pads directly on your tendon at the top of your forearm and the other pad up around the inside of the biceps. The key to treating tendonitis is increased blood flow. Your tendons get very little blood, and blood exchange is what's needed to carry nutrients and oxygen into the tendon to decrease inflammation.” - John Wilson in the Knife Dogs forum
  • “I have shoulder problems with the left non-casting side. I just got a shot and went to therapy. tens unit and heat work the best for my tendinitis” - sandfly in the PaFlyFish forum
A nurse sitting next to a woman in a hospital bed

Post Surgery

One of the drawbacks of surgery is the need for pain relief medications (opioids). These types of medicines can have many adverse side effects with addiction being the larger concern.

TENS therapy presents a solution to this risk, offering a safe and non-addictive pain relief method. Studies, experts, and users all report a reduction in the need for opioids because of TENS therapy. Additionally, these devices offer the advantage of targeted pain relief whereas medications do not.

What Studies Say

  • A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found TENS therapy to be an effective alternative to opioids for patients recovering from total knee arthroplasty. The research found this method to reduce opioid consumption without the adverse effect of vomiting.
  • A 100-woman study found TENS therapy to reduce the need for morphine by 52% compared to a sham group recovering from major gynecological procedures.
  • A meta-analysis reported that TENS therapy minimized analgesic consumption by 35.5%, with 14-51% compared to barely perceptible TENS.

What Experts Say

  • Bomber Chiropractic states, “Following surgery, many patients are prescribed potent pain relief drugs (including narcotic drugs) that can have major side effects. TENS treatments can be used to manage pain following surgery and reduce the need for pain relief medications.
  • More Physical Therapy states that those recovering from surgery may benefit from TENS machines and that “studies show that TENS can significantly reduce the use of analgesics
  • Total Therapy Solutions recommends TENS therapy as “a safe and effective way to reduce post surgical pain without increased medication.”
  • Physiopedia cites that “TENS postoperatively has showed a reduction in the use of analgesics in patients and a reduction in occurrence of postoperative complications such as respiratory depression. Although, reports have showed that some surgical procedures are too painful for TENS to have a significant effect on pain.

What Users Say

  • I have a TENS that I got before my rotator cuff repair surgery. It helped w pain of that injury. The PT (PhD) showed me exactly where to place the pads, though.” - louise in the SleepApnea.org forum
  • “I used a TENs unit , and it was effective. I was able to reduced the use of opioid the after the initial 2 weeks.” - Mutti3 in the Bone Smart forum
  • Now that I am post-surgery I am so glad I got the TENS machine as I have used it a ton. Not just on the knee but on any area that is simply upset because of the adjustment.” - Dkm in the Bone Smart forum
A woman holding her stomach in pain

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a condition that affects one’s ability to relax and coordinate the muscles in the pelvic floor (located at the base of the pelvis). This condition adversely affects the ability to urinate or have a bowel movement and can impact one’s sexual function.

Using a TENS unit for pelvic floor muscles causes them to contract which effectively strengthens them. This helps improve urinary frequency, urgency, and incontinence. With this treatment, a specialized pelvic floor TENS unit probe is used.

What Studies Say

  • A study looking at the efficacy of TENS to treat chronic pelvic pain in women found the treatment to significantly improve pain scores compared to a control group.
  • A study involving 118 women with urodynamic stress urinary incontinence compared TENS to pelvic floor exercises, vaginal cones, and no treatment. The study concluded that the three methods were “equally effective treatments and are far superior to no treatment.
  • A study published in 2021 concluded that TENS therapy combined with pelvic stabilization exercises may be used to minimize pain and improve pelvic floor muscle strength in pelvic cancer survivors.

What Experts Say

  • In an interview, Dr. Kathleen recommends TENS therapy as an excellent method to activate the body’s opioid system. They recommend using mixed frequency for better effectiveness and pain reduction during movement for pelvic pain relief.
  • “Stimulation through electrodes placed on your body may calm pain and spasms.” - Interstitial Cystitis Association
  • “TENS can help assist you in short-term pain relief under the guidance of a pelvic physiotherapist.” - Closing the Gap Healthcare
  • Urogynecologist Ian Rosbrugh, MD at North Kansas City Hospital, cites using a TENS unit for pelvic floor dysfunction as it “stimulates the posterior tibial nerve on the patient’s right foot to treat an overactive bladder.”
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital lists TENS therapy as an option for treating pain related to pelvic pain. However, they do note that it is not effective for everyone.

What Users Say

  • A good choice for pelvic floor disease sufferers, but you will need to purchase electrodes separately for that.” - TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • I ordered this for pelvic floor therapy and I like it. The settings are plenty high/low enough to cover many types of pain.” - Ray on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A male athlete sitting on bleachers holding his knee in pain


Swelling, caused by many conditions, is the buildup of fluids in or around an injured body part. This is the body’s natural response to injury, an effort to protect the injured area. And while it is normal, sometimes the body produces too much swelling which can cause more harm.

Using TENS for swelling effectively reduces inflammation in two ways: it promotes decreases in inflammatory cell production and sparks endorphin production. These devices are regularly used and recommended as a method of minimizing swelling and improving blood flow.

What Studies Say

  • A study looking at the effects of TENS on edema (a condition that causes swelling) found the swelling and pain “statistically significantly decreased in the experimental group that received TENS when compared with the levels in the control group.”
  • A Brazil systematic review found TENS to positively impact proinflammatory cytokines, the body’s first responders that stimulate inflammatory cells. When decreased, less inflammation occurs.

What Experts Say - “Does a TENS unit Reduce Inflammation?”

  • When looking at inflammation and TENS, Advanced Spine and Posture cites, “Using a TENS machine also naturally enhances the flow of endorphins to the brain. Studies have also shown that using a TENS machine regularly decreases inflammation.”
  • White’s Physical Therapy lists TENS therapy as a method they use to reduce swelling.
  • “With pain comes inflammation, which in turn, causes more pain. It’s like a lose-lose situation. Thankfully the TENS unit can help with Inflammation as well.” - Elite Spine and Health Center
  • The Center for Interventional Pain & Spine cites reduced inflammation as a benefit of TENS machines. They say that using a TENS unit to reduce swelling also increases blood circulation, improving tissue healing, and inflammation control.

What Users Say

  • “After shredding my ACL, my physical therapist recommended getting a TENS machine to help with the swelling and pain. I was a bit skeptical, until she used the one she had in the office, and the pain melted away.” - Debra M. Benge on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • This product helps the swelling. I use this to start circulation back in my right foot.” - Renee on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • I use this nightly on my knees to help with swelling and it feels great!” - KFish on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • the therapeutic settings for those wishing to release sore muscles or reduce swelling due to fluid buildup around knee for example is 300 microsecond pulsewidth at 3Hz.” - Greg A. Toews on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • I use this in the morning and after a long day on my feet to reduce swelling and stiffness” - Blasianprincess25 on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A physical therapist holding a patient’s knee

MCL Sprain/Tear

The MCL, located on the inner edge of the knee, is a band of tissues that connect shine and thigh bones. Its purpose is to provide stability to the knee and allow for proper movement. When injured, it can cause the knee to be able to bend too far.

Using a TENS unit for an MCL sprain or tear can offer relief from the pain while healing. They’re frequently used in unison with physical therapy as they can make movement easier for patients when strengthening and rehabilitating the injury.

What Studies Say

  • “Immediately following injury, the use of a stimulation unit to modulate pain helps to provide control of a patient's subjective complaints. This control is achieved using TENS type stimulation” - 2008 study titled “Management of the Patient with an ACL/MCL Injured Knee

What Experts Say

  • “TENS machines work by providing electrical stimulation that changes the way that sensory nerves feedback to the brain. This reduces or disguises the pain signals giving relief from the symptom of the injury. TENS machines do not normally help with the healing process but do help patients to cope and manage their pain.” - Ozark Chiropractic Clinic
  • “Various types of electrical stimulation may be used during your rehab for a meniscus tear. TENS may be used to help decrease pain, and NMES can be used to improve the way your muscles around your knee contract.” - Brett Spears, Physical Therapist
  • “Your physical therapist may also use electricity to help improve your leg muscle strength and knee movement. It's a method called "TENS," short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.” - Physical Therapy to Help Your Knee on WebMD

What Users Say

  • “I had an ACL reconstruction and a year later a Artherscopic meniscus repair....I've used quite a bit on my right knee,right quad and VMO over the years” - Zungle in the My Les Paul forum
  • The right tool for the job, for this grappler…Last week I sprained my knee, injured my mcl like I've done in the past a few times.” - LuckyMacaw1977 on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A woman holding her stomach in pain


Constipation happens when your colon absorbs too much water from waste and causes stool to dry out, making it difficult to exit the body. It has a variety of causes including dehydration, poor diet, stress, medication consumption, and more.

While the research, expert, and user insight is limited, it’s thought that using a TENS unit for constipation aids in relief by accelerating colon transit. TENS placement for constipation involves placing pads over the abdomen and the paraspinal regions.

What Studies Say - “Can a TENS unit help constipation?”

  • A systematic review found that “TENS can accelerate colonic transit and has a certain therapeutic effect on functional constipation.”
  • “To treat functional constipation, both electroacupuncture (EA) therapy and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) are safe and effective.” - 2018 study

What Experts Say

  • We’re still looking for experts to provide insight.

What Users Say

  • We’re still looking for users to provide insight.
Hands holding a pink cancer ribbon


It’s important to note that you should consult a medical professional before using a TENS machine for cancer pain. While Cancer Research UK recommends TENS therapy for cancer, other publications such as Cleveland Clinic do not. More research is needed to answer “is TENS safe for cancer?”

Because cancer tends to be a very painful condition, pain medications are commonly used. However, the strength of these relievers tends to cause adverse side effects. Because of this, it’s thought TENS and cancer may be an ideal match for relief from pain without harmful side effects.

What Studies Say

  • A study on the efficacy of TENS to relieve cancer pain found it effective in 69.7% of patients over two months.
  • A 24-patient study seeking to learn the benefits of TENS therapy on bone cancer pain found the treatment to effectively reduce pain. 

What Experts Say

What Users Say

  • “I get quite a bit of pain with my spine meets. I use the TENS machine regularly and find it gives good pain relief…One of the bizarre effects of the TENS is that my pain on waking in the morning -- which is usually when my back pain is at its worst -- is hugely better if I use the TENS before going to bed.” - LouiseIndigo in the BreastCancer.org forum
A man holding his wrist in pain

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by compression of the median nerve which travels through the wrist. This causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and forearm. With many patients, the condition worsens over time and can lead to feeling loss and even permanent dysfunction of the hand.

While there aren’t many studies on using these devices for carpal tunnel, many experts and users recommend them as a pain relief method.

What Studies Say - “Does a TENS Unit Help Carpal Tunnel?”

  • A study comparing interferential therapy (IFT) to using a TENS unit for carpal tunnel found IFT to be a more effective treatment.
  • A 2010 study found 20-25 minutes of TENS therapy to significantly reduce carpal tunnel pain in 20 female patients.

What Experts Say - “Will a TENS Unit Help Carpal Tunnel?”

  • Royal Treatment Therapeutics, a wellness company offering massage therapy and chiropractic services, cites TENS therapy as a way to “keep the pain under control throughout the day.”
  • Premier Neurology & Wellness Center recommends using a TENS machine for carpal tunnel pain, citing “if you suffer from nerve disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome…then you may want to consider trying TENS therapy to manage your symptoms.”

What Users Say

  • “I’ve had reasonably good results with joint mobilisation and retinaculum stretches for people with carpal tunnel. TENS works pretty well too in some people.” - wanmankylung in the Single Track World forum
  • I bought it for my Carpal tunnel pain, it does helps and relieve the pain.” - Kevin in a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I use the unit at home on my feet and my hand. It works wonderfully for my arthritis and carpal tunnel pain.” - DexizDiVa in a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “Bought for my carpal tunnel and anything above setting 2 on this machine is too much and I have loss of feeling in my palms so I’m impressed.” GiGi in a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A man’s back with his spine in red


Fibromyalgia is a well-misunderstood condition that is often associated with widespread chronic pain. And because more research is required to better understand it, the available treatments are minuscule. Because of this, using a TENS unit for fibromyalgia relief may be one of the better options. These devices are particularly helpful as they can target where the flareup is located.

What Studies Say

  • A large randomized, blinded, and placebo-conrolled trial found that nearly half of the participants experienced at least a 30% reduction in pain during rest and movement or a 20% fatigue decrease.
  • A study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology found four weeks of active TENS to significantly reduce pain-related movement than a placebo TENS or no TENS at all.
  • A 2013 study looking at the effectiveness of TENS therapy for fibromyalgia concluded that “TENS has short-term efficacy in relieving symptoms of fibromyalgia while the stimulator is active.”

What Experts Say

  • 360 Physical Therapy & Wellness recommends TENS therapy as an effective method of fibromyalgia pain relief.
  • “Because this treatment is non-invasive and can be typically used with other approaches, it’s a great option for many patients.” - Arizona Pain
  • Verywell Health recommends TENS therapy for relief from fibromyalgia but states it should be used as “part of a larger treatment plan, not as a sole treatment.”

What Users Say

  • “I have fibro, so I put this on my back when I have server pain, even tho it kills me, afterwards I do feel better!” - Branda Anne Morais on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “Great unit for home use for fibromyalgia and/or neck pain. Use on trigger points with a moist heat pack to ease pain.” - TW on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I purchased this to help with fibro pain and low back pain from sciatica and bulging discs. This is a powerful TENS unit and it really did help with my pain levels.” - Lisa Harris on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I suffer from Lupus and Fibro. I've been on pain meds for years, and as always happens after a while the body grows accustom to the meds, and they not longer work. My Rheumatologist recommended this unit, and it's well worth it!” - EdCaffreyMS on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • Energy level way up. Mood level was the best in about 10 years. Results just kept getting better. I’m not a doctor but I am a retired registered nurse who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2008. I was at the end of my rope dealing with pain because I had tried all the medications used for fibro and had horrible side effects.” - Yoli on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A man holding his knee in pain

Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is a type of knee surgery in which a small camera is inserted into the knee joint. This allows surgeons to make smaller incisions and results in less pain and shorter recovery times.

TENS units are commonly used in the post-op phase to target and minimize pain. Pad placement should never be over the joint. Instead, it should be around the pain to allow the electrical stimulation to travel through the pain.

What Studies Say

  • A 472 patient meta-analysis on using a TENS unit after knee arthroscopy concluded that patients experienced less pain accompanied by less dependency on opioid medications.

What Experts Say

  • Physical therapist Dr. Robert Donaldson states that using a TENS unit for knee replacement surgery pain “is a common protocol for many orthopedic surgeons. The use of a TENS unit after a total knee replacement can decrease the patient’s pain and opioid consumption.”
  • Wake Orthopedics provides TENS units to patients to “help decrease postop pain and swelling” after knee arthroscopy surgery.

What Users Say

  • “Recently had arthroscopy on my knee and now go to PT, using a TENS machine is part of my therapy; being able to have this at home is very convenient.” - Angelique on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “Now 74, I had a similar knee arthroscopy performed 17 years ago. It was followed with physiotherapy in combination with a TENS machine. I believe the TENS therapy controlled pain, stimulated joint recovery and was the main reason for the continuing successful outcome” - eral25786 in the Patient.info forum
A man holding an inhaler for asthma


Asthma is a condition that can make breathing difficult. Airways narrow and swell which can make it hard to breathe and can trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Using a TENS unit for asthma is not a traditional method of treatment and requires further studies. There have been a few studies that have found TENS therapy to improve lung function.

What Studies Say

  • A study on 32 adolescents with asthma administered TENS therapy over acupuncture points (known as Acu-TENS) for 40 minutes/day for two months. The study found Acu-TENS to treat asthma and be used to reinforce immune system response, improve lung function, and enhance the quality of life.
  • A 2017 study looking at the effectiveness of four weeks of Acu-TENS on patients with bronchial asthma found it to be a good treatment for improving lung function.

What Experts Say

  • We’re still looking for experts to provide insight.

What Users Say

  • We’re still looking for users to provide insight.
A caregiver helping a man use a walker


A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Rehabilitation after a stroke typically involves a series of exercises made to help patients relearn skills. Using a TENS unit for stroke patients aids in this rehabilitation process while relieving post-stroke pain.

What Studies Say

  • An 80-patient study found that 20 sessions of TENS combined with task-related training (TRT) more effectively “improves lower limb functions in subjects with chronic stroke” compared to TRT alone.
  • A 37-patient study looked at the effectiveness of task-related trunk training (TRTT) combined with TENS therapy. The study concluded that adding TENS to treatments “augments the effectiveness of the exercise in terms of TIS scores within the first 3 weeks of training.”
  • A study of 34 patients with chronic stroke found a mix of therapeutic exercise and TENS to reduce plasticity while improving balance, gait, and functional activity.

What Experts Say

  • When explaining the uses and benefits of electrotherapy in post-stroke recovery, Physiopedia explains that TENS therapy “has traditionally been used for analgesic purposes and does not elicit a motor response although it has also been used in studies to promote sensory feedback.”

What Users Say

  • I'm a stroke survivor and I use this in therapy...it helps me…” - Leisa on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • perfect for stroke victims trying to get movement back.” - ally2 on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I bought this unit for my husband after his occupational therapist suggested we get one. He had a massive stroke 6 months ago and with this unit, he was able to start moving his arm/hand again...I would definitely recommend this unit if you suffer from join pain as well as if you're recovering from a stroke.” - April on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A woman holding her bladder in pain

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that can be very painful. The condition can cause bladder pressure, pain, and frequent urination. This condition isn’t curable however treatments such as TENS therapy can help with the pain associated.

What Studies Say

  • A 30-participant study compared TENS with physical therapy to physical therapy only and found a significant pain reduction in the TENS group only.

What Experts Say

  • The Advanced Urology Institute recommends TENS units for interstitial cystitis pain in addition to relaxing irritated bladder muscles.
  • Mayo Clinic cites TENS therapy may reduce urinary frequency by improving blood flow and strengthening muscles.
  • Harvard lists TENS as a method to treat pain and “Good results have been reported in about one-quarter of those using TENS.”
  • Womens Health Matters explains that TENS therapy reduces pain and urinary frequency in women with IC. They say that some even wear their device under their clothing for hours of treatment each day.

What Users Say

  • “My TENS unit is very soothing. I'm on Disability now for IC, but when I could work I wore mine to work alot. It helps with frequency, and it helps with pain.” - jeanniebug1969 in the Inspire forum
  • “I am so grateful for this little thing. It helps me with interstitial cystitis pain. The strength is very easy to control and the lowest setting is extremely gentle.” - Molly on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
  • “I got my TENS Unit one month ago. Generally speaking, it really eases the pain and gives some relief to muscle sore. Just like a painkiller or a good massage.” - MiyalgiaPatient in the IC Network forum
A close up of a wheelchair wheel

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the nervous system mistakenly attacks the protective layer around nerves called myelin. This inhibits the nerve's ability to pass messages and often causes them to be delayed or may not pass through at all. Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weird feelings in your skin such as numbness or burning
  • Eyesight problems
  • Poor memory or thinking abilities
  • And walking difficulties

Using a TENS unit for MS can offer short-term pain relief. It can be used daily on a long-term basis to improve your quality of life and minimize dependency on pain medications.

What Studies Say

  • A 32-patient study sought to look at the effect of TENS on spasticity in MS. The study found no effect on spasticity but concluded that TENS is useful in treating pain and muscle spasms.
  • A study funded by the MS society found TENS therapy to be effective in treating neuropathic MS pain.
  • A systematic review of TENS for multiple sclerosis concluded that “TENS is a safe and effective non-pharmacological alternative in the management of central pain in people living with MS.”

What Experts Say

  • “TENS can reduce pain in the short-term but does not get rid of the pain or the underlying problem permanently. Often TENS is something that needs to be used on a long-term basis, but it can improve quality of life and reduce the need to take pain medications.” - Multiple Sclerosis Trust
  • “I have been using my TENS unit about 4 times weekly for 6 weeks. I can say with confidence that for daily aches and pains in the muscles and joints, this therapy has made a difference.” - Multiple Sclerosis News Today
  • “Although TENS will not cure the underlying cause of the pain, it may provide some much-needed relief when pain medication is either unavailable or ineffective.” - MS Focus Magazine

What Users Say

  • “This therapy is safe and can be really effective. The trick is to experiment and locate the exact spots where to place the nodes on your body.” - Keithjwas in the Overcoming MS forum
  • “I have Multiple Sclerosis and would wear the unit all day while I was at work and home.” - Shannon on a TENS 7000 Amazon Review
A doctor pointing to a man’s skin that has shingles


Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a painful condition in which the chickenpox virus is reactivated in the body. This causes a painful rash that appears as a stripe of blisters that typically develop on one side of the body or face in a small area.

We recommend using a TENS machine for shingles pain after utilizing antiviral drugs. You can place the pads around the affected area. It’s important to avoid placing pads over blisters as this can damage the skin.

What Studies Say

  • A 2012 study comparing TENS to antiviral drugs concluded that TENS “may be safe adjunct or even alternative to antiviral drugs.”
  • A small 20-patient study found a significant reduction in pain after using TENS therapy to treat post-herpetic neuralgia refractory (the lasting pain on the skin where shingles existed).

What Experts Say

  • WebMD recommends TENS therapy as an alternative to traditional pain killers. They state you can put the electrodes over the painful area.
  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center lists TENS therapy as a pain treatment method for postherpetic neuralgia.
  • When asked, “could a TENS machine help,” Shingles Support Society cites that “many people find this helpful.”

What Users Say

  • “I have had moderate success using TENS for post-herpetic neuralgia. Depending on the extent of the skin lesions, I place electrodes along the affected segment with one anteriorly and one posteriorly at spinal root, or, if there is no intact skin available anteriorly, I place both electrodes posteriorly over the nerve roots bracketing the affected segment.” - Dr. Ethne Nussbaum in the Electrophysical forum
  • once you get used to it, the machine really helps with nerve damage.” - lisa510 in the Patient.info forum

As you may have noticed from this extensive list, TENS therapy is a broadly universal pain relief method. Because you can target the pain and customize treatments, it’s a “go-to” for many users experiencing pain. However, this type of pain management does not heal pain, it only blocks it. It should always be used in unison with other pain relief methods for best results.

About the Author

Head shot for Brandon Landgraf

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

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Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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