What is TENS therapy?

TENS therapy involves the use of an electrical stimulator to treat pain from a variety of conditions. A TENS machine (which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) can deliver low-voltage electric currents to nerves, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain and stimulating the release of endorphins. 

In effect, it’s like a drug-free painkiller that can simply zap the pain away!

transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

TENS therapy can help with a diverse range of conditions. That includes both acute pain (short term) and chronic pain (pain that has lasted for three months or longer).

Just some examples of the types of pain it can treat include:

TENS therapy is often used to treat conditions including:


  • Ideal for people who want to avoid the side effects of painkillers (or are unable to take pain medication for any reason)
  • Provides a gentle massage effect
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Eases muscle tension
  • Relieves joint stiffness.

TENS units are simple and safe to operate. The doctor will provide the correct settings and show you how to use it, and then you can take it home and use it yourself as needed.

TENS units use at least two electrodes to pass current through the body. The electrodes are typically adhesive pads that will stick to your skin. The electrical current will pass from one electrode to the other, so the positioning of the electrodes enables you to control where the electricity goes.

The process is safe and painless because the electrical current used is such a low voltage.

One of the great benefits of TENS therapy is it can provide immediate relief from pain. As soon as you switch on the device, it can begin disrupting the pain signals from the affected area.

The length of time the painkilling effects last once you switch off the TENS unit varies, but some patients have reported it can last up to 24 hours, and that the results improve after several sessions.

Cost and Coverage

Just like most of our services, our TENS therapy treatments are often covered through insurance, so they are probably available at little to no cost to you. That includes the coverage you may have through an employer, auto insurance, or workers’ compensation plan.

If you’re not sure if you’re covered, give us a call and we can help. Our services are also available at competitive rates.

An icon showing a patient with insurance coverage for massage treatment.

Activa Clinics is the perfect place to get your TENS therapy. One reason for that is our comprehensive range of services. 

TENS therapy is great for relieving pain, but in order to solve the underlying issue, TENS should be combined with other treatments. 

With our diverse team of knowledgeable and experienced healthcare providers, we can create a custom treatment plan that incorporates a variety of treatments.

Our team includes:

Our Team Includes:

A diagram depicting the many health services available at Activa Clinics.

If you’re looking for a clinic nearby for TENS therapy, we can help. We have seven clinic locations in and around the GTA, serving communities including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Kitchener, Hamilton, and Scarborough.


  • 1. How long should you use a TENS unit at a time?

    How long you should use a TENS unit for, each time, depends on several factors. It is important to start slowly. For most people that means a maximum of 15 minutes each session. It is wise to use the lowest setting possible. Once you know which setting works, you can gradually extend the session length and frequency. A professional therapist can tell you how long and how often you should use your TENS unit.

  • 2. Are TENS units good for lower back pain?

    TENS units are good for lower back pain. It is a gentle, non-invasive and drug-free form of treatment. You just need to place the pads near the painful area and let the pulsing gently relax your muscles and soothe away the pain. The pulses also stimulate the nerves. Something which helps your body to produce more of the natural pain-killing chemicals it needs.

  • 3. Who should not use a TENS unit?

    Some people should not use a TENS unit. For example, they can interfere with a pacemaker. People who have certain heart conditions should also not use them. The unit works by stimulating the nerves. If you place them too close to the ones that control the rate at which your heart beats, you could cause a lot of damage. Pregnant women and epileptics should also not use them. You really should consult a medical professional before using a TENS unit.