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The dangers and side effects of TENS machines and TENS therapy.

Using a TENS machine to help manage pain relief is becoming a big deal. More and more people are realising how much potential these little boxes of electric can provide. However there are still some that need a little more convincing

From nerve issues to sore muscles and aching joints, there is a setting that can be used to numb the pain. But does TENS machine use come with any attached dangers? Are there any nasty side effects or even people who should not use them?!

In this article we take a look at some of the dangers and side effects of TENS therapy. Hopefully any worry’s you previously had about starting will be gone by the end of it.

Are there any dangers to using a TENS machine?

Before we get into the in depth article I am going to post a quick answer for anyone who does not have the time to read through. I highly recommended that you do though as it is packed with valuable information.

So are there any dangers when using a TENS machine? The quick answer to this is yes there are dangers and risks, however these are very minimal. The biggest danger is soreness and burns associated to using a high power setting or not using a pad rotation. Also people who have a pacemaker fitted should not use a TENS machine. If you have any concerns you should consult a doctor or GP.

The side effects of using a TENS machine.

Below are some of the dangers of using a tens machine. Although I would prefer to call them rare side effects.

Burns or soreness around the electrode pads.

This is the most likely side effect or danger from using a TENS machine. However it is still very rare and in most cases is completely avoidable.

If I am completely honest I have suffered from this side effect myself once. It was at a time when I did not know how to use a TENS machine and I kept placing the electrodes on the same spot. Not only that, but I also let the electrodes dry out and still used them.

The results were some sore red patches on my skin from where the electrodes had been placed. This was completely my own fault for not reading how to use them successfully.

To stop yourself suffering from this side effect always make sure that the electrodes are suitably moist with gel. If they have dried out it is time to buy a new set of electrodes, luckily they are really cheap.

Soreness part 2.

Some people may suffer from an itchy and sore rash where the electrodes have been placed. This is caused by an allergy to either the pads themselves or the lubricating gel.

Many manufacturers now sell hypoallergenic pads for this. By using these you should have no problems using your TENS machine in the future.

Pain when using the TENS machine.

A photo of some tens machine electrodes
Always make sure to keep your tens machine electrodes damp with gel.

TENS machine therapy should never be painful. In fact it should feel very relaxing with a tingling, massaging feeling.

If you experience any pain when using your TENS unit the chances are that it is because of one of these reasons:

  • The electrode pad has become dry. This can feel like little electric shocks when the pulse of electricity touches your skin.
  • The power or sensitivity is set too high. When the power is turned up to high it can cause huge contractions within your muscles. This can make you feel like your body is seizing up until the pulse stops. To combat this always make sure that you gradually increase the power until it is perfect for you.

Over using a TENS machine.

How much use of a TENS machine is to much? It is a tough question to answer really as there is no direct answer. Over using a TENS machine can cause soreness to the skin around where the pads have been.

The best way to go about how long you spend using your unit is to start off small. I tend to use mine for 20 minute bursts a couple of times per day or as and when needed.

Always make sure that you use a slightly different location to place your electrodes each time. This will prevent any soreness from one area through overuse.

Using a TENS machine with a heart problem.

This is one of the only true dangers of TENS machines. Under no circumstances should anyone who has heart problems or is fitted with a pacemaker try using one.

TENS machines work by pulsing small currents of electricity into the body. This could lead to serious problems for anyone who had the above conditions. If you are unsure it is always best to consult your doctor or GP.

Risk of electric shock.

The chances of this are so slim they do not warrant being talked about however I will mention them.

TENS machine work at very low power levels and as such should not pose any dangers of electrocution. As with any electrical device though you should take steps to minimise any chance of danger.

Never use your TENS machine around water such as when bathing or in the shower.

If you notice that one of your electrode cables wire has become exposed or broken stop using it immediately. By contacting the manufacturer of your device you should be able to get a replacement cable in no time.

Using a TENS machine whilst pregnant.

Another big no no when it comes to TENS therapy is using one when you are pregnant. TENS machines can be used when you are in labour to help naturally ease the pain and discomfort.

However it is not recommended that you use a TENS machine through any other stage of your pregnancy.

In conclusion…

TENS machine therapy is one of the safest ways to get fast and effective pain relief from many different ailments.

It allows users to get this pain relief without the need for any nasty chemicals that are usually found in conventional medication.

Just like everything in life there are side effects and dangers present. However they are so small it does not really bare thinking about. As long as you stick to the instructions and do not over do it you will be fine to use a TENS machine. Please do not let any of the side effects stop you from using a TENs unit for treatment. Millions of people across the globe are enjoying the benefits of the therapy they can give without any issues at all.

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