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How To Use a TENS Unit For Sciatica Pain

How To Use A TENS Unit For Sciatica

Life doesn’t stop for your sciatica.

If exercises, stretches, and posture aren’t enough to ease your pain, then you’ll have to add another arrow to your quiver to make your pain manageable.

A TENS unit can be that secret weapon. It’s a device that uses electric currents to alleviate pain in two ways:

1. It uses electrical pulses to prevent pain signals from making it all the way to your brain. This is not a panacea–whatever is irritating your sciatic nerve will still do so. However, limiting the pain signals to your brain can help you get through an important meeting or therapy session–whatever you need immediate relief for.

2. It stimulates your endorphins. This encourages your body’s natural process for dealing with pain. Some users will find that the endorphin stimulation continues after the unit is removed.

A TENS unit may be a solution to your sciatica-related limitations. To get good results, you’ll need to know exactly how to set it up and use it. Here are some steps to follow when using TENS.

Step #1: Clean The Skin

If your skin has excess oil or hair, the electrode won’t be able to make a good connection. Clean the area with an alcohol wipe, and shave it if necessary.

Step #2: Place The Electrodes Properly

It goes without saying that the electrodes need to be close to the pain center. However, there is no exact science for the placement position. The key is to experiment. Move the electrodes around until you find the sweet spot.

There are some guidelines you can follow that should help you place the electrodes correctly.

  • Find the spot where the pain begins, and then surround it with electrodes. This works best with a four-electrode model, but you can do the same thing with two. Typically, two electrodes will be on the same channel (connected to the same lead/cord). Place these two electrodes across from each other–on opposite sides of the pain center.
  • Follow the line of pain. Instead of surrounding the origin of the pain (usually on the hip/buttocks for sciatica), you can place the electrodes along the path the pain travels. For sciatica, this will be down the leg. Spread the electrodes out even from the pain’s beginning to end–at least a few inches apart.

Step #3: Increase The Power Gradually

A TENS unit will never electrocute you, but it can give you a much bigger jolt than you were expecting. Overpowering the unit will not help your pain; in fact, it can make it worse.

It’s crucial to start at a lower power level. If you aren’t feeling significant results after ten minutes, then turn the power up on increment and repeat the process.



Along with using a TENS unit, you should research and try every possible method for fixing your sciatica.

Turning off the pain by popping a common pain reliever has its use but isn’t an ideal long-term solution. If your sciatica is chronic, then a TENS machine may be exactly what you’ve been searching for.