Are TENS units safe to use?


As a well-informed patient, it is important that you take the time to gather as much information as is possible on any new forms of therapy that your medical professional might be suggesting. If you are a chronic pain patient, your health professionals may be recommending that you start transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Also known as TENS, this form of electrical stimulation therapy works by directly targeting the areas of your body that have been affected by a variety of pain-causing conditions. Whether yours is chronic pain as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, or acute pain caused by a recent surgical procedure or automobile accident, you may have concerns about whether or not TENS units are safe for your type of pain.


The following questions and answers should help to set your mind at ease about the electrical impulses that are generated by the TENS device.

Will TENS Therapy Hurt?

As a patient who experiences chronic pain, you are no doubt tired of being in pain. The last thing that you need is to voluntarily sign yourself up to experience additional pain at the hands of your TENS device. However, you can rest assured that TENS therapy is not at all painful when the therapy is administered in the correct manner.

A very small number of patients have experienced painful muscle cramps during their TENS therapy sessions. These muscle cramps, however, can be explained by one of several items.

  1. The electrodes were placed in an incorrect manner on the patient’s skin or were placed on an area of the patient’s body that simply did not need electrical stimulation.
  2. The TENS machine’s frequency was turned up too high for the pain relief needs of the patient; it is always recommended that patients start with a lower frequency and slowly increase the stimulator levels until they are able to feel a reduction in the intensity of the pain.

During TENS therapy, the majority of chronic paint patients report feeling nothing more extreme than a very mild tingling sensation; if you experience anything more than the mild tingling, you should mention it to your health professional immediately.

Are There Any Drug Interactions with the TENS Machine?

Perhaps the best aspect of using a TENS machine as a part of your overall pain treatment plan is that it will not interfere with the effectiveness of any medications that you may be taking. As a completely natural form of reducing pain by means of making a slight modification to the signals received by the brain, TENS can even help you to reduce any current dependency that you may have on prescription pain medication by offering you natural painkillers in the form of endorphins that are released during sessions.

Is TENS Therapy Safe For My Condition?

There are several health categories that could exclude you from being able to safely use a TENS machine; including the following:

  • Patients who have medical conditions that include high blood pressure and heart disease should consult with their medical professional before starting TENS therapy. While transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation should not adversely affect your blood pressure, it is always wise to get medical clearance before starting a new form of therapy.
  • Pacemaker patients should never use TENS therapy as a part of their pain reduction therapy as the electrical nerve stimulation unit’s low frequency stimulation may be enough to interfere with the functionality of the pacemaker.
  • Pregnant women should use caution before using TENS therapy; while it can prove to be very effective at alleviating the muscle, bone, and joint pain that pregnant women often experience, there is no conclusive evidence as to the effects that electrical stimulation therapy has on an unborn child. Consult with your obstetrician if you are interested in using a TENS machine – you may find that your doctor has no problem with you using it versus using painkillers that could harm your unborn baby.

What Will My Results Be?

Patients should keep in mind that their individual results using TENS therapy could vary from what another patient experiences. There simply no way to ensure that every patient experiences the exact same results. If TENS therapy is not proving to be an effective course of treatment for your chronic pain, your medical professional will help to guide you into the direction of another form of therapy.

In an ideal therapeutic world, however, patients could feel as much as a 90% improvement in the intensity of the pain that has been adversely affecting their life and lifestyle.

Looking for a Tens Unit? Check out our Tens Unit Reviews.


About Andy

Andy writes for a number of health related sites but has always been fascinated by alternative medicine and home remedies. His deep interests in nature and the body's innate ability to heal itself (given the right condition) have lead him to a pivotal time in his life - and so, Holistic Home Fitness was born. While it's relatively new at the moment, Andy wants to build this site into a huge reference site for a more holistic approach to health and fitness.