Risks of a TENS Unit

Tens unitTENS Unit is a medical device commonly known that treats various forms of pain with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The tens unit works by sending electrical impulses through electrodes attached to the skin. They have effectively treated pain ranging from short-term discomfort from recent surgery to chronic pain due to arthritis or back problems. However, certain daily activities or medical conditions can contraindicate, or make inadvisable, the use of a TENS machine.

Implantable Devices

People who have heart problems or those who have an implantable device should not use TENS units without consulting a physician.  Implantable devices include defibrillators and pacemakers. Implantable devices work by delivering small, regular shocks that stimulate the heart to beat in a normal rhythm. The TENS machine electrical impulses sends may interfere with how the implantable device works.


Pregnant women should not undergo TENS therapy. Some women sometimes used TENS devices to manage labor pain under close medical supervision. It's not yet known what the long-term use of a TENS machine does to an unborn child.

Head and Neck

TENS electrodes can be placed in various spots on the body to help relieve pain, but there are some patients who should not use them on their head or neck. If you suffer from seizures or convulsions or have blood or blood vessel disorders, then you shouldn't place the TENS electrodes on your head or neck.

Medical Conditions

Tens therapy in people who may have medical conditions should not use TENS therapy. People who have pre-existing lymphedema should reconsider using this. TENS therapy has an effect on the circulatory system and it could affect the lymphatic circulation, causing further fluid retention. The condition can compromise skin integrity because of the local tissue swelling that occurs. Other conditions that contraindicate TENS placement includes areas of broken (cracked) skin, sores, acute eczema and psoriasis.

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