How to TENS Unit Pad Placement?

As can be easily surmised, TENS unit pad placement is determined by the area of the body that is a source of pain at any given time. Musculoskeletal pain, be it chronic or acute, can emanate from the neck, back, shoulders, arm, stomach, hip, knee, ankle, foot, et cetera. Furthermore, TENS therapy may be used in some instances to relieve pain related to headaches and migraines, labor, surgery, nose, eyes, mastectomy, cervical osteoarthritis, sciatica, and more. As a matter of fact, there are more sources of pain than there are body parts, which is why electrode pad placement may be the same for two or more different conditions.

Conversely, sometimes the pain stems from a part of the body that’s not actually there, as is the case in phantom limb pain. Under that circumstance, the electrode pad is placed on the stump. There are many TENS unit pad placement guidelines available, and if you were to compare them, you might be able to spot certain differences between them. Does that mean some are wrong and others are right? Not quite so. After all, they are but mere guidelines. The truth is that there is no one exact pad placement that will relieve all knee pains, to name one example. Each patient should find the particular placement that works best for them.

For instance, some users may find more effective relief when using the interferential pad placement technique, which consists basically of crossing the electrodes over the affected area, so that the lead wires intersect each other at the center. Placement also depends on the number of electrodes available. Most TENS units come with four electrode pads and dual channel properties. That means that you could place two electrodes on one shoulder and the other two on the other shoulder and stimulate each independently, or all four on one shoulder, for example.

TENS users should also take very much into account where electrode pads should never be placed. That includes the front and sides of the neck, on open wounds or broken or irritated skin, close to the eyes or in the mouth. The single best way to be 100% positive about TENS unit pad placement and how to maximize pain relief for your individual case is to talk to your personal doctor/physical therapist, so that together you can agree on where –and for how long- the electrodes should be applied.

Related Read: Electrode Placement Guide