Are you having trouble getting the hang of your TENS machine settings? What about finding the right intensity or therapy modes to meet your needs? At VUSH, we have put together a simple, easy-to-use guide to ensure you get the best out of your TENS device, every time. Let’s jump in and discover what you need to know to optimise how you use the TENS machine settings and therapy modes to meet your needs better.
What is a TENS device?
A TENS machine, or a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation device, is a battery-operated pain-relief device that can be used pretty much anywhere on the body. From menstrual pain to a sore back or neck, a TENS device can support various aches and pains.
TENS machines work by stimulating the nerves in the body via a controlled electrical current. This current runs through electrode gel pads to the skin, directly on the painful area (transcutaneous means “across the skin”).
VUSH’s newest wellness product, Aura, is a portable, cordless version of a TENS machine. With a fun purple design, Aura offers a natural and effective form of pain relief that makes getting on with your day-to-day life a little easier.
How does a TENS device work?
TENS units are powered by a rechargeable battery that produces electrical pulses to ease pain and relieve various conditions, such as endometriosis, chronic back pain, and arthritis. Most devices are made up of either two or four self-adhesive electrodes, which are directly applied to the skin. The gel pads are connected to the TENS machine by lead wires. These pads introduce controlled electrical pulses via the wires and electrodes, which then work to stimulate the superficial and spinal nerves that connect to the brain. The brain then receives messages to block pain signals, and thus, the pain is put on pause.
This form of non-invasive pain relief is regularly used by many to ease the pain for up to four hours at a time. To provide targeted relief, every TENS unit has a range of intensity settings to offer prolonged pain relief.
TENS device intensity settings (- +)
Selecting the right intensity setting for your needs is essential to using your TENS unit correctly. If you are unsure which setting to try first, it is generally best to start with a low setting and work your way up.
When using a TENS machine like Aura, you have 20 different intensity levels for complete, targeted pain relief. Use the (+) and (-) buttons to alter the intensity.
The lower settings on Aura include everything from setting 1 to 6. Settings like these can trigger a release of endorphins in the body, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Low TENS settings are particularly beneficial for mild, persistent or dull pain. This is a reliable option for those who experience low levels of pain on a regular basis. Alternatively, low intensity settings can be ideal for mild period pain or sore muscles after a workout.
Medium intensity can be found on settings 7 through 13 on Aura. These settings involve electrical pulses known to stimulate the muscles for strengthening or even relaxation purposes.
High intensity TENS can be achieved using settings 13 to 20. Higher settings involve greater pulse rates and widths, making them ideal for those managing sharp, sudden or intense pain, for example significant flare ups or ovulation pain.
High intensity settings are not to be tried by beginners straight away. If the intensity feels too strong, the electrode pads may not be applied correctly. If you are still determining whether a higher intensity is the right setting for you, start with a lower option and work your way up.
TENs device therapy modes
Every TENS unit offers a variety of therapy modes to provide personalised pain relief.
Each mode delivers a varying pulse rate (the number of electrical pulses felt in one second). These pulse rates are measured in Hertz (Hz), and it is understood that acute pain benefits from a frequency between 80 and 120 Hz.
Along with the pulse rate, these therapy modes offer different pulse widths to tailor the electrical pulses created – this refers to the period where the current is ‘on’. Pain relief is often achieved with low to mid-time periods, but you can alter these settings based on your personal needs.
VUSH’s Aura provides a selection including scraping, tapping, acupuncture, cupping, tai-chi, and kneading:
This therapy mode imitates the effects of a Gua Sha scraping technique. It mimics how a massage tool scrapes the skin to improve circulation, combined with targeted electrical pulses to provide adequate pain relief.
Drawing on the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture, tapping involves using pressure as a way of guiding the body’s energies to travel along specific pathways, providing relief from types of pain and discomfort.
One of the most well-known and traditional forms of medicine, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the central nervous system to influence pain and stress relief. TENS devices like Aura mimic this process by using targeted pressure to stimulate the body’s nerves.
A form of alternative medicine that is believed to help with everything from pain and inflammation to relaxation and well-being, cupping uses a technique similar to a deep-tissue massage. A TENS unit therapy mode recreates this process to support individuals with pain relief.
The Tai-Chi therapy mode on a TENS unit like Aura starts by building a low-intensity contraction of the muscles before moving to more rapid contractions as a form of pain relief. These settings are particularly useful for those experiencing chronic pain or nerve pain.
Kneading relates to a massage technique that compresses soft tissues to relieve pain or discomfort. Aura, and other TENS devices with similar therapy settings, use this mode to provide targeted pain relief by mimicking movements associated with the kneading practice.
How long should you use your TENS machine?
When you find the correct settings for your needs, you can safely use a TENS device as often as you need. It is recommended to use a TENS machine in short intervals, which is why Aura runs for 20 minutes before you will need to start the cycle again. Aura’s settings can provide quality relief for up to five hours when used as instructed.