TENS Unit Settings Chart and Guide

According to some experts, the TENS unit is a great tool for dealing with pain. When worn, this device sends electric stimulations to stop the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.

To get some relief with this device, it is advised that you use the right settings. But if you are not sure about these adjustments, you might become frustrated especially while using the device.

tens unit settings chart 

With a guide, you can find the proper settings for the device and get the desired relief. Moreover, you might even save time that would have been spent on the trial-and-error method.

Would you like to try out a TENS unit? If yes, here is a guide and chart showing the ideal settings for performing this task. Now let’s get started.

TENS Unit Setting Chart and Guide

Here is a guide and chart showing the settings for using a TENS unit. Although this article is well-researched, it should be used only for informative purposes.

Condition B/N/M Mode  Width Rate Duration ( Min)  Frequency ( Per Day)
Acute Pain N/M 180 – 260 70 – 150 15 – 60 4 x
Headache N/M 30 – 80 50 15 As often as required
Chronic Pain B/M 220/150 120/<10 15 5x ( weekly)
Muscle Spasm N/M 260 260 15 Use until the muscles feel relaxed

If you are using the TENS unit for acute pain, then you should set the mode dial to Normal ( N)  or Modulation( M)  while the width stays at 180 – 260. As for the rate, allow it to remain at 70 – 150 Hz with the time set or 15 – 60 minutes. For the desired results, use the TENS device 4 times per day. 

What Settings Should I Use on My TENS Unit?

Before adjusting the settings on the TENS unit, you will have to consider the type of pain treated. For instance, if you are treating a headache, the mode should be set to Normal or Modulation while the rate stays at 50 Hz and the time at 15 minutes.

But if you are dealing with acute pain, you can use Burst or Modulation modes for a maximum of 60 minutes. 

How Do You Set Up a TENS Unit?

Here are the general steps for setting up a TENS Unit:

  • Remove the TENS unit from the case
  • Insert new batteries into the unit
  • Remove the electrodes from the same case
  • Insert the bent end of the electrode wire into the TENS unit
  • Connect the jacks on the electrode wires to the electrode pads( 2 for small areas and 4 for larger areas)
  • Place the electrode on the skin of the painful area
  • Turn on the unit
  • Choose your preferred settings
  • Rotate the knob on the unit until you feel a buzz 

What are the Different TENS modes?

On the TENS unit, you have three modes – Normal, Burst and Modulation. Burst mode is ideal for chronic pain while Normal works for acute pain. Modulation also works for acute pain but it can still be used for chronic pain.

How Long Should a TENS session be?

The duration of a TENS session depends on the type of condition treated. For example, acute pain requires the unit to run for a maximum of an hour. However, sessions for chronic pain and muscle spasm treatment should not exceed 15 minutes. 

When Should You Avoid TENS?

Although TENS is designed for treating various parts of the body, it cannot be used for certain conditions such as pregnancy, cancer, and bleeding disorders. Furthermore, TENS should not be used for persons with heart disease, implantable devices, numbness, and epilepsy.

Is it OK To Use a TENS Machine Every Day?

Yes, you can use a TENS machine every day. After all, this device is safe provided it’s used for the right conditions. But as you use this device, try to take 10-minute breaks between for every hour of use. 

Where Should You Not Apply TENS?

There are certain areas of the body where you should not place a TENS unit. These areas include the front of your throat, eyes, temple, or even joints. 

Burst MODE TENS: What Does It Mean?

The Burst mode is one of the modes found on the TENS unit. When set, the Burst mode offers bursts of electrical impulses for treating chronic pain. 

TENS Unit Settings Pulse Width and Rate

The Pulse Width of a TENS unit is described as the duration of each pulse while the Pulse rate is seen as the frequency of the pulse.

Can You Overuse a TENS Unit?

As a TENS unit is a safe device to use, there are no side effects from using the device regularly. However, it is advised that you turn it off for ten minutes between every hour of use.