TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) can help reduce the pain we experience by using electrical wiring to stimulate the nerves.

TENS machines are generally very safe and easy to use and can be used for a wide range of pain conditions.

There are a few conditions where TENS cannot be used or where medical advice should be sought first, for example pacemakers, some heart conditions, epilepsy or pregnancy. Do check out the NHS website guidance on TENS which has advice on this or speak to a medical professional before using one.

A wide variety of TENS machines can be purchased, at a varying range of prices, so if you are interested in buying one to try you may want to shop around first.

  • TENS Machine UK may not be the cheapest supplier out there but is a good place to research some of the different options and functions available, including wireless options.
  • Most TENS machines use sticky pads to attach the electrodes – these can be problematic for some people with allergies/reactive skin. The electrodes do come in a “sensitive” version which can be better for some people.
  • Some TENS machines also work with conductive garments which target specific body parts, for example gloves for hand pain, which can be an alternative to sticky pads for sensitive skin and targeting a wider area.
  • Chloe, one of our members has also recommended a cheap but effective TENS machine made by Sanitas (intermittently available from Lidl, but similar ones probably available elsewhere) which does not use sticky pads at all and instead wraps around the waist to target the back – excellent for sensitive skin, as it’s hard to find ones without adhesive. They also make a knee version
  • Most of these machines offer multiple programmes and intensities, some of which may work better for different individuals or types of pain, so do try the options and see what works best for you.

How effectively TENS works also depends on the placement of the electrodes, and this will depend on the location of your pain. There is not really a ‘right’ way to do this, but this website gives some guidance on placement, as well as how to get the best out of the electrodes by preparing your skin and maintaining them correctly. There are a few limited places where electrodes should NOT be placed, so again do check out the NHS guidance on this.