TENS Machine

TENS Machine

TENS Machines: A Physiotherapist’s Guide

What is a TENS Machine?

In Australia, TENS machines, short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, have become a popular choice in pain management. As physiotherapists, we may suggest these devices to clients for temporary pain relief. They work by sending electrical currents through the skin to stimulate nerves, helping to ease pain.

The Role of TENS in Pain Relief

TENS machines are more than just a quick fix. They play a crucial part in a broader pain management plan. It’s vital to get advice from a healthcare professional or a physio to ensure the TENS machine is used correctly for your specific pain needs.

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How TENS Machines Ease Pain

These machines reduce pain in two main ways:

  1. Sensory Level Stimulation: This method is based on the Gate Control theory of pain. The TENS machine blocks pain signals by interfering with neural pathways, effectively ‘closing the gate’ on these signals.
  2. Motor Level Stimulation: It also prompts the body to release its own natural painkillers, similar to opiates, which activate the body’s pain relief processes.

By using these methods, TENS machines may help lessen pain, making it more manageable.

Using a TENS Machine Effectively

To get the most out of your TENS machine, placement of the electrodes is key. For neck or back pain, place the electrodes on either side of your spine at the painful spot. If your machine has two channels, using a second pair of electrodes above the pain point can improve its effectiveness. We recommend seeing a physio for advice on where to place the electrodes and what settings to use, ensuring the treatment is right for your specific pain.

tens machine

Tens Machine

Safety First with TENS Machines

There are some key safety tips to remember:

  • Avoid placing electrodes on your eyes, brain, or front of the neck to prevent serious complications.
  • Keep electrodes away from your heart, especially if you have a cardiac device.
  • Don’t use electrodes on wounds, broken skin, or infected areas.
  • Avoid using them on areas where you have reduced sensation.

Always consult with a healthcare professional for proper guidance on safely using a TENS machine.


It’s important to know the difference between TENS and EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) machines. While both are electronic medical devices, TENS is for pain relief, and EMS is used for muscle stimulation. Make sure to read the instructions and consult a healthcare professional if your pain continues.

Conclusion: Seek Professional Advice

While TENS machines offer a promising way to manage pain, they should be used under professional guidance. As physiotherapists, we strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare provider such as your physiotherapist before starting TENS therapy. This ensures a tailored treatment plan for your specific pain management needs.

Remember, TENS therapy is part of a wider approach to managing pain. It’s not a standalone solution but an integral part of a holistic pain management strategy.

Need Professional Guidance?

Thinking about using a TENS machine for pain relief? Chat with your physio to find the best approach for your condition. Personalised advice from a professional can significantly improve your pain management plan.


A TENS machine differs from an EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) machine, though both are electronic medical devices. Always read the instructions and labels carefully. A TENS machine may offer temporary pain relief, but always consult with a healthcare professional before use, especially if pain persists. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer and your healthcare provider.

Related Articles

  1. TENS Machine Instructions: Using, Modes, Safety & Tips – Offers guidance on using TENS machines effectively, including modes of operation and safety tips​​.
  2. Pain Relief With TENS Machine | Easy Use – Explains how TENS machines ease pain through sensory and motor level stimulation​​.
  3. TENS Machine FAQs – Addresses common questions about TENS machines, helping readers navigate their options and understand their use​​.
  4. NeuroTrac Rehab (TENS Machine + EMS) – Provides a detailed look at how TENS works for pain relief and the advantages of the NeuroTrac Rehab machine​​.
  5. TENS Machine Electrode Placement Guide – Pain Relief eBook – This guide could offer readers in-depth information on the best practices for electrode placements to maximise the effectiveness of TENS therapy​​.

TENS Machine FAQs

Navigating the world of TENS and EMS machines can be overwhelming with all the available options and information. Fortunately, our comprehensive TENS Machine FAQs are here to guide you through everything you need to know. Whether you're considering purchasing a TENS or EMS machine, seeking the best practices for electrode placements, or simply curious about the differences between these devices, this resource has got you covered.

We also discuss the intricacies of pain—what it is, why it occurs, and how these devices might offer relief. As with any medical device, it's crucial to read the label and follow the instruction manual carefully. For persistent symptoms or any concerns, always seek advice from a healthcare professional such as your physiotherapist or doctor. Let's explore these revolutionary devices and how they might contribute to managing pain and enhancing well-being.

General TENS & EMS Machine FAQs

tens machine faqs

Buy a TENS or EMS Machine

Pain FAQs


A TENS machine and an EMS machine are electronic medical devices. Always read the label and instruction manual. A TENS machine may assist you in modest short-term pain relief. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional before use and if symptoms persist. Use only as directed.

Private Health Insurance Rebates for TENS Machines

Did you know that most private health insurance rebates are available when you buy a TENS machine for your therapeutic benefits?

The claim must be made for a TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator). Depending upon your fund, a recommendation from a doctor or physiotherapist is typically required.

Health Fund Level of Cover - Rebate Amount

We strongly advise that you call your health insurer to confirm your level of coverage and how much you can claim. We recommend that you note the name of the phone advisor, as some private health insurance customers periodically experience differing information from one advisor to the next.

The following information was accurate when writing but is subject to change by the health funds to give you an idea of what rebates are available. Would you please check with your health fund for details relevant to your level of coverage?

TENS Machine FAQs

Buy a TENS or EMS Machine

Pain FAQs


A TENS machine and an EMS machine are electronic medical devices. Always read the label and instruction manual. A TENS machine may assist you in modest short-term pain relief. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional before use and if symptoms persist. Use only as directed.

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