TENS - pain therapy

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TENS devices for treating pain

TENS – electrical nerve stimulation

The electrodes can be applied to many parts of the body, as the electrical impulses produced are completely harmless and virtually painless. Stimulation current treatment using TENS devices activates the body's own anti-pain mechanisms and is therefore used in pain therapy.

TENS devices for treating pain

Persistent pain can have an impact on your quality of life and wellbeing. But a TENS machine can offer effective pain relief without the need for medication.

What is TENS?

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and is a form of electrotherapy in which the nerves are electrically stimulated via the skin. In this way, TENS devices are therefore often used for pain therapy and to promote pain relief or, ideally, even to get rid of pain entirely.

This medication-free approach to treating pain is clinically proven to be effective and free of side effects when used correctly. Many TENS therapy products, such as the Beurer TENS devices, are small and handy and can be used for self-treatment at home.

EM 70 application man

How does a TENS device work and how do you use it correctly?

How it works

The machine uses electrical pulses to relieve pain. It transmits small electrical pulses through the skin which can block pain receptors to suppress pain signals in the nerve fibres and reduce pain. Pain is alleviated by the suppression of pain signals in the nerve fibres, among other mechanisms. This is especially true of high-frequency pulses. At the same time, the release of the body’s own endorphins is increased, whereby these factors reduce the sensation of pain due to their effects within the central nervous system. The method has been scientifically substantiated and approved as a form of medical treatment.

How do you use a TENS machine?

The first step is to always read the instructions carefully. Not only will this make the device easier to use but you’ll also be sure you’re getting the most from your TENS machine.

Then carefully apply the gel pads to the electrodes and cautiously remove the protective film. Ensure that the edge of the gel pad does not protrude over the electrode. Gel pads that are not applied flush on the electrode do not impact on their functionality.

Then position the electrodes on the affected area on the body and switch on the device. The electrodes should be placed on clean and dry skin. Avoid placing them on open wounds or scars. Finally, make sure that the electrodes are positioned correctly.

Now, select a program and start the treatment. Adjust the intensity to a comfortable level. The intensity can be adjusted depending on how much pain you are feeling.

Important! It’s always best to discuss TENS treatment with your GP or health professional. Not only can they confirm TENS is the right treatment for you, but they may also be able to advise you on the best way to use a TENS machine to suit your pain condition.

Placement of the electrodes

Important to the success of TENS pain therapy is electrode placement. You’ll often find a positioning guide in the instruction manual, or your TENS machine may have an on-screen positioning guide. If you feel unsure at all, your GP or health professional will be able to help.

Electrode distance

The greater the distance between the electrodes, the larger is the stimulated tissue volume. This applies both to the area and the depth of the tissue volume. At the same time, the stimulation intensity applied to the tissue decreases the further the electrodes are apart. As a result, greater distances between electrodes mean that a larger tissue volume is stimulated, albeit less intensively. In such a case, you must increase the pulse intensity to boost the stimulation.

The following guidelines can help you find the best electrode distance for you:

  • Recommended distance between electrodes is around 5–15 cm
  • At distances below 5 cm, the device primarily stimulates surface structures intensively
  • At distances over 15 cm, large areas and deep structures are stimulated very weakly

Relationship between electrodes and muscle fibre structures

Adapt the current flow direction to the fibre structure of the muscle, according to the muscle layer you would like to treat. If you want to target superficial muscles, position the electrodes parallel to the fibre structure (A–B/C–D). If you are targeting deeper layers of tissue, position the electrodes across the fibre structure. You can do this by positioning the electrodes diagonally (A–D/B–C).

Electrode placement TENS device beurer

How often and for how long should I use TENS therapy?

How long and how often you use a TENS machine depends on the type and intensity of the pain you are experiencing. Nevertheless, regular TENS therapy is recommended to achieve the best effect. It is always advised to consult a doctor or therapist before using a TENS device. They will help you determine the most effective usage for you including frequency and intensity.

On which parts of the body can a TENS device be used?

A TENS device can be used on various areas of the body to relieve pain:

  • Back
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Feet
  • Arms and hands
  • Abdomen
  • Thighs and lower legs
  • Face and head (some devices for certain types of pain)

It is important to note that some TENS devices are designed for specific areas of the body, while others can be used on all areas. We therefore recommend that you read the instructions for use thoroughly before use. In addition, we recommend consulting your GP or therapist.

EM 70 female leg application
TENS is clinically tested and approved to treat the following complaints

What types of pain can TENS treat?

  • Back pain, particularly in the lumbar/cervical spine area
  • Sore joints (e.g. knee, hip and shoulder joints)
  • Neuralgia
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Pain resulting from injury to the musculoskeletal system
  • Pain caused by circulatory disorders
  • Chronic pain with various causes

Who shouldn’t use a TENS Machine?

  • People with implanted electrical devices or metal implants
  • People who use an insulin pump
  • People with a known or acute cardiac arrhythmia or disorders of the heart’s impulse and conduction system
  • People with seizure disorders (e.g. epilepsy)
  • Pregnant women
  • People with cancer
  • People who have recently undergone an operation, where strong muscle contractions might impair the healing process

What is the difference between a TENS and an EMS device?

TENS and EMS are two different technologies used in electrotherapy.


TENS means transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and aims to relieve pain by sending electrical impulses to the nerve endings in the skin. This stimulates the nervous system and blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain.


EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation and is used to stimulate, stretch, and strengthen muscle tissue. An EMS device delivers electrical pulses that stimulate muscle tissue to contract. This improves circulation and helps to strengthen and rehabilitate weakened muscles.

TENS and EMS combination devices

As both use a similar operating principle based on electrotherapy, you will find a number of combination TENS/EMS machines in our Beurer range that are suitable for both TENS treatment and EMS muscle stimulation.

Differences in electrode placement

When using TENS, the electrodes are usually placed around the site of pain so that they act on the nerves in the skin layer. When using EMS, the electrodes are applied directly to the muscle to be treated.

Differences in frequency and intensity

TENS uses lower frequencies and higher intensities (to match the pain), while EMS uses higher frequencies and lower intensities to cause muscle contractions.

Differences in application duration

TENS can be used for longer periods of time (up to several hours per day), while EMS is usually used for shorter periods (up to 20–30 minutes per day).

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