We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are TENS Pads?

By Archana Khambekar
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) method is sometimes used for pain management. Treatment is usually administered with a TENS unit that transmits mild electrical impulses to areas that hurt. TENS pads are adhesive electrodes attached to the skin that pass on electrical impulses to the underlying nerves. The device is often battery-powered, compact, and suitable for treatment in a health facility or at home. This therapy is generally regarded as low-risk and could help alleviate pain following an accident or in long–term conditions such as arthritis.

The device typically includes a small-sized machine or a stimulator with controls to regulate the flow and intensity of the electrical current. The unit is connected by wires to foam, rubber, or cloth-backed electrode pads. The wires convey electrical impulses from the unit to the TENS pads affixed to areas where a patient feels pain. A conductive gel may be spread on the electrodes, which are then positioned on the skin. The impulses are transmitted to the nerve fibers underlying the skin and thereby to the brain.

When the unit is switched on, a low-voltage current is typically conveyed and a buzzing sensation is felt in the area where the pads are placed. TENS therapy can ease pain in several different ways. Transmission of normal pain signals may be impeded, and one might simply experience a tingling at the site instead. Another explanation could be that electrical stimulation of the nerves enhances the level of endorphins, the pain relievers supplied by the brain.

TENS therapy can be incorporated in acupuncture. In this form of treatment, TENS pads are usually placed directly on the acupuncture points. A device known as an electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) machine is sometimes used for muscle training and rehabilitation. An EMS unit is a variation of the TENS device. An EMS machine sends electrical impulses to the muscles.

Generally, a doctor or health practitioner can advise on a TENS course of treatment and the duration of therapy. Typically a doctor indicates the right location for the TENS pads, the current intensity, and steady flow or pulse mode setting for a patient. If necessary, the treatment may be continued at home after initial guidance from a practitioner.

The TENS method might be recommended for managing pain that lasts for a limited period such as post surgery or after an accident. It could help those with chronic muscular pain, or in conditions such as arthritis or sciatica. A TENS device may be used to ease labor pains.

The efficacy of treatment can vary. In some, the pain is alleviated for a short duration while others may feel the positive effect for a longer period of time. TENS therapy could be suggested as an adjunct to other pain management treatments. A prescription is often needed for insurance reimbursement of this treatment.

Some may experience adverse effects such as skin irritation or an allergic reaction from TENS treatment. One could put the TENS pads in a slightly different spot during subsequent sessions to prevent redness. In case of an allergic reaction to the adhesive or electrodes, changing these accessories may help.

TENS therapy might not be safe for some patients. These include pregnant women and people who have pacemakers. Placing TENS pads over the eyes, head, or neck could pose a risk so generally these areas should be avoided.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.