How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit

Written by china zmuida
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How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit
Electrode placement depends on pain. (electrode sèche image by YvesBonnet from

A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit is used to provide electrical stimulation to painful areas on the body. A TENS unit works by blocking pain fibres or by creating the development of endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. A TENS unit is portable and battery powered. How you place your electrodes depends on where the affected site is located.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • TENS unit
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol pad
  • Cotton balls
  • Electrode gel
  • Medical tape

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  1. 1

    Consult with your physician on where to directly place your electrodes. Improper placement will reduce your chances of having your pain lessened.

    How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit
    First consult your physician. (relaxed doctor image by Keith Frith from
  2. 2

    Cleanse the electrode site with either an alcohol pad or with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Allow the skin to thoroughly dry.

    How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit
    Clean the area. (cotton balls in a closed metal box image by Roslen Mack from
  3. 3

    Apply a thin coat of gel to the back of the electrode. This is necessary for the electrodes to pick up signals from your nerves.

    How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit
    Place gel on the electrodes. (Stock pictures of electrodes image by Albert Lozano from
  4. 4

    Remove the paper that is on the back of your electrodes. Place the electrodes to the affected sites. Use medical tape to help hold down the electrodes.

    How to Place the Electrodes of a TENS Unit
    Place the electrode. (electrodes image by Albert Lozano from

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure your TENS unit battery pack is charged before using.
  • Make sure the unit is turned off before applying the electrodes.
  • Rotate the placement of your electrodes on your skin for each session to prevent your skin from becoming sore.
  • Use new electrodes for treatments when older electrodes no longer stick to your skin.
  • Never place electrodes near your eyes or on your neck nerves, throat nerves or near your brain.
  • Don't fall asleep with your electrodes on or place electrodes on open wounds.
  • Don't use a TENS unit if you have a pacemaker.

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