TENS Unit Operating Instructions

Updated April 17, 2017

The transcutaneous electrical nerve-stimulation unit, or TENS for short, is a nerve stimulator that uses mild electrical signals for pain control. The unit is portable and can be worn on a belt or strapped to the body. According to, it is helpful for those who have difficulty taking pain medications. It can be used for short- or long-term pain therapy. Unlike prescription medicine, the TENS unit has no side effects if used properly. It works by preventing pain messages from being transmitted to the brain and by raising the body's endorphins, which are natural pain killers produced in the brain.

Clean the surface of the body area to be treated.

Inspect the cords and pads for wear. If they are in good order, insert the cord pins into each electrode pad.

Peel off the paper backing on the pad and place the pad over the area to be treated.

Turn each control slowly clockwise. You should feel a tingling sensation. If your muscles contract, turn the control slightly down. Your health care practitioner will tell you how far to set it.

Turn down the intensity if you become uncomfortable.

Increase the intensity after the tingling sensation diminishes.

Finish by turning down each intensity control until you hear them click off.

Remove your TENS unit.


Do not use your unit if you have heart problems or are pregnant. Do not use the unit on your head or face.

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Judith Green began writing articles in 2009. Green has had articles published online at eHow, and likes writing about health, food, family and relationships. Green has taken college workshop classes in language arts and writing through Ohio State University. When Green learned about the opportunity to write online, she knew this was her niche.