How to Use a Tens Machine for Horses

two horses... image by Saskia Massink from

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It is used for short-term musculoskeletal healing after an injury or surgery and for prolonged healing after a serious trauma or for arthritis. It is a viable pain control treatment alternative to drugs.

The TENS machine for horses is different than the TENS machine for humans. However, the basic principle of both is similar. Electrical pulses are sent out via a patch on the skin to stimulate neurons in different muscle groups, thereby hiding the pain of the injury. While some debate the effectiveness of TENS, many horse owners rely on it.

Brush and curry comb your horse to get the dust off. If your horse has a nice shaggy winter coat, you could shave the spots where you will place the electrode patches.

Test the battery pack to ensure that the unit is charged and ready. Turn off the unit when applying the electrodes to the affected area. Use the gel included in the kit to coat the ends of the electrodes. Just dip the ends in it. The patches must cover the end of each electrode. Put the patches in new spots for each new treatment.

Dial the control knobs carefully and slowly, searching for the right amount of electricity. The horse should feel a tingling sensation but no pain. You will see the muscles contract but not stiffen. This is where it would help to have a trained person to show you.