How physios use a TENS machine

Experiencing chronic pain, or discomfort from an injury that doesn’t seem to be improving using only manual therapies? Then using a TENS machine might be the next step in your treatment journey.

At Spectrum this isn’t a problem, as we take a 360° approach to our treatment plans, tailored to each of our client’s needs. We offer a combination of traditional manipulation therapies, as well as including options for treatments with the latest technologies, such as a TENS machine.

A TENS machine is a type of electrotherapy treatment. Also referred to as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, it is commonly used as a pain relief treatment, but it has a range of applications, including being used by women in labour for a reprieve of pain, through to stimulating muscle response and toning the body.

As physios, we most commonly incorporate a TENS machines into a personalised treatment plan for one of three main reasons; to block pain signals, to relieve tension or to stimulate a muscle that isn’t responding to messages from the brain. At Spectrum, we use a specific type of TENS called Bluetens (but more on that later!).

tents machine treatment on a patients lower-back

How does it work?

A TENS machine works by sending a small electrical current from the targeted area to the brain. Electrodes (pads) from the machine are applied to the skin of the area concerned, and a level of current and intensity is then selected by your therapist in order to effectively treat the problem at hand. Essentially, the electrical currents will help reduce the sensation of pain by blocking the message from the problem area, provoking the release of endorphins and/or relaxing the muscle of focus. Here at Spectrum, we use Bluetens as our machine of choice, as it is one of the top technologies in the market.

What can you commonly treat using a TENS machine?

TENS machines can be used to treat a number of ailments such as knee pain, neck pain, back pain, sciatica and sporting injuries. As a pain relief treatment, the intensity and level of the current will result in either a relaxing of the muscle to find relief, or for the stimulation of endorphin release.

Another use for a TENS machine is to build muscle tone and boost athletic performance. When being used for muscle activation therapy such as this, our team of specialists advise for the device to be applied whilst you are doing your allocated physio exercises at the gym. This way muscles are stimulated and at their peak for your workout.

In contrast, when used as a form of pain relief, the machine would be applied to the area of concern for about 15 minutes before one of our specialists conducts manipulation therapy. This way we can work with you in real time to find the intensity and level that is best suited to you.

What makes Bluetens the best?

Compared to classical electrostimulation devices, Bluetens are nomadic and ultralight as well as being affordable, so as per our unique model, we’re able to include the use of this (and all the other therapies we offer) within our standard treatment fees.

Another great benefit of the Bluetens machine is its smart technology feature, which enables the device to link to your phone. Using the app, our team is able to check on your development and monitor your progress. While most of our therapies with the Bluetens machines will take place under the supervision of one of our therapists at the clinic, in extreme cases we may advise for the machine to be taken home for extended use beyond your supervised sessions.

tents machine treatment on a patients shoulder

Can a TENS machine be harmful?

TENS machines are considered safe, but like all treatments there are some considerations, which your therapist will take into account when opting to use the device. While a TENS machine is a great alternative to those who are wanting to see results without the use of needles or medications, it shouldn’t be used in the following instances:

  • On irritated skin or open wounds.
  • Near the eyes, or other sensitive areas.
  • While operating machines, such as driving.
  • While near or in water.
  • Pregnant women who are not in labour.
  • People with a pacemaker or a cochlear implant.
  • People with epilepsy.

If you’re new to electrotherapy, our team will ensure they start at an appropriate level and intensity, working with you to guarantee your personalised treatment plan is both effective and comfortable.

Do you want to learn more about how TENS machines work in our programs and whether it might be the right treatment for you?

Our friendly team of experts are always happy to chat! Book your free, 15-minute initial consultation today and start your journey to a pain-free life.

Get the latest Spectrum Physio London news and updates