How to use OMRON TENS machines
Updated: September 2019
What is a TENS machine?
A TENS machine is a medical device that can help you to relieve the pain of muscles and joints. It can be an alternative solution of pain medicaments or a complement to them.
“TENS” stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. This is a technique that aims to relieve musculoskeletal pain using a low-voltage electrical current. This means that it uses electrical impulses delivered by a TENS unit via electrodes placed on the skin over a nerve pathway, or close to the painful area. An at home, a TENS machine is easy to use for symptomatic pain relief including joint pain and muscle pain.
TENS therapy has been used for over 20 years by medical professionals such as physical therapists and chiropractors.
How do TENS machines work?
OMRON TENS machines work in several ways to reduce pain (triple action):
- The gentle electrical pulses move through the skin to nearby nerves to block or shut out the pain message from ever reaching the brain from the source of the pain.
- The gentle electrical pulses increase the production of the body’s natural pain killer, such as endorphins.
- The electrical stimulation improves blood circulation as well. Muscles contract and relax with the flow of the electrical stimulation. With repeated contracting and relaxing, the blood flows in and out and the blood circulation is improved.
How to use OMRON TENS machines?
To start using your OMRON TENS machine, first apply the pads, at least 2.5 cm apart, where you feel pain. For best results, make sure your skin is clean, dry and healthy.
Once the pads are applied, turn on your OMRON TENS unit, and use the arrow keys to navigate the on-screen menu and press the “set/ start” button to make your selections. Customise your treatment and pick your setting based on the type of therapy you want and begin your session.
Each of the OMRON TENS machines offer multiple intensity levels so you can choose exactly the level of relief you need. Read the instruction manual of your OMRON TENS unit to safely and correctly use it.
Frequently asked questions
When should I start therapy?
As soon as your pain begins. Start with one session and once it is finished, rate your pain again (1 low to 10 high) to compare your pain level before and after therapy.
If you get to your pain early, it may prevent the pain from becoming worse, or even chronic. It’s better for you to get it under control sooner so that it does not reach a high pain threshold where it limits your daily activities.
How should it feel? How do you know when it is working?
Expect variations of tapping, tingling, massage-like sensations or even mild muscle contractions. Always start with low intensity and increase slowly. If the sensation feels uncomfortable, decrease the intensity and/or change the program. If the sensation becomes weaker or disappears, increase the intensity.
How long should you use it?
Recommended treatment time is max. 30 minutes, up to 3 times per day.
When to stop using the machine?
You should stop using the TENS machine in the following cases:
- If you experienced an adverse reaction (skin irritation/redness/burns, headache or other painful sensation, or if you feel any unusual discomfort).
- If your pain does not improve, becomes seriously chronic and severe, or continues for more than five days.
What type of pain is it suitable for?
The therapy works best on acute pain because it is localized. Acute pain is pain in one area for less than 3 months. If you have chronic pain, you may have pain in more than one area and for longer than 6 months. Chronic pain may be compounded by other issues that this unit cannot address. Remember, OMRON TENS machines do not cure your pain or the original cause of the pain. It provides temporary relief or reduction of pain so that you can control your life and activities better.
Is there a reason that I shouldn't use a TENS machine?
Most people can safely and effectively use a home TENS unit to obtain pain relief. However, there are reasons to not use a TENS unit. These include the following:
- Pacemaker or any implanted electronic device
- Over skin lesions
- Over the front of the neck/carotid artery
- On the head
If you have any questions about TENS units and whether or not electrotherapy is right for you, please consult with a medical professional like a physiotherapist.