How Often Can You Safely Use a TENS Unit
Electrotherapy is effective and nearly side effect free, so now you might be wondering how often you can use a TENS unit.
How Long to Use a TENS Unit
How long your sessions last will depend on how quickly you see pain relief. It takes a while for some people, while others report getting relief nearly immediately.
TENS unit sessions are typically between 20 – 30 minutes long because that's how long it takes for most people to get pain relief.
It's possible that it will take longer for you, and it's possible to use it for up to 2 hours at a time depending on the TENS unit.
How Often to Use a TENS unit
How often you use your device depends on how quickly your pain returns. Most people will use their device 2 – 3 times per day, though it's not uncommon to use it more than that.
The instructions that come with your TENS unit will probably say something similar, but it's possible that they recommend different session lengths. You should always read the directions for each device before using it.
Problems arising from overuse of TENS units aren't common, but why risk your health? It's best to follow the instructions for your particular device just to be safe.
To get the most out of your treatment, here are some TENS unit usage best practices.
- Make sure to clean and dry your skin before attaching the electrodes. This will increase conductivity, increase the lifespan of the TENS unit electrode pads, and decrease skin irritation.
- Place the tens unit pads at least one inch apart. They should never be placed on the head or in a line running along the spine.
- Start your device with the lowest settings. Gradually increase them until you find a comfortable setting. The most effective setting for you might change over time, so remember to experiment.
You might find it inconvenient to have to use a normal TENS unit for several hours per day since you'll have to stay in one location while you receive treatment.
If you want to be able to move around while receiving the treatment, you'll definitely want to look into wireless portable TENS units.
Wireless TENS units provide pain relief in the same manner as regular units, but they run on a battery. Wireless units are smaller and more discrete, which means you are able to use them in public without people noticing that you're wearing one.
The drawback is that the batteries will need to be replaced or recharged often. Also, wireless units typically aren't as powerful and a regular unit. This is ok for moderate pain, but those with severe pain might find them unsatisfactory.
It would be nice if everyone could use the same settings and a particular length of time worked for everyone, but that's not the case.
Make sure to do your own research before using a TENS unit. If you're still unsure, talk to your healthcare professional before use.