How to Use a TENS Unit for Sciatica

Used to treat pain and discomfort, a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is a battery-run device that works by sending tiny electrical impulses via electrodes that actually attach to a human’s skin with adhesive pads. The electrical impulses then transmit into your body’s nervous system and lessen its ability to transmit pain signals to your brain and spinal cord. Another benefit to this process is that the impulses that are initiated by the TENS unit can help your body to create natural pain relievers that are also known as endorphins.


Sciatica is very common and occurs when pain is incurred along your body’s sciatic nerve which extends all the way down one or both of your legs starting from your lower back. Sciatica is usually brought on by a herniated disk or even a bone spur in the spine that places pressure on the nerve. Typically, medication and therapy are the go-to cures or aid for the pain.

Using a TENS Unit for Sciatica

Sciatica pain is brutal and there is no reason to let yourself suffer, hoping that pain medication or therapy will help. Some people have such bad and regular pain that they fear addiction if they take that medication every time they feel the pain. TENS units can assist in relieving sciatica pain, even the really bad, radiating and shooting pains some people describe having when they suffer from it. TENS units offer a non-addictive and safe option to reduce your pain and regain mobility that you may have lost as a result of sciatica.

How Does a TENS Unit Work for Sciatica?

A TENS unit has the ability to distribute an electric low-voltage pulse to your epidermis, or skin. The pulse that is sent out does two things. First, it stimulates your nerves and travels across the surface of your skin, bringing out helpful endorphins. Endorphins are an organic and natural pain killer that your body is capable of producing on its own. The pulse is also capable of misleading and confusing signals and can even prevent them from being able to enter your nervous system. When this happens, you will not be able to feel the pain.

When a TENS unit sends these electrical signals to your body, any discomfort and pain that you may be enduring from your sciatica will be relieved.

How to Use a TENS Unit

TENS units are a breeze to use and they are wallet-friendly and affordable as they are priced starting around forty dollars. After continued use of your TENS unit, you will need to replace the electrode pads every now and then to help the machine to maintain its integrity.

The placement of your electrodes for your TENS unit electrode placement is critical when using the unit in an attempt to relieve your pain and symptoms from sciatica. For optimal results, place the TENS electrodes directly on your skin on your lower back. Be sure to place them near the area where you are experiencing pain. With the TENS unit, you have the ability to adjust the frequency of the current as you see fit. Only you know best as to where you are feeling the most pain. You can then move the electrode pads and position them in any position so that you are able to obtain the most relief from sciatica pain and discomfort. The relief that you feel is believed to be fairly immediate if you used the TENS unit correctly and properly placed the electrode pads on your body.

It should be noted that the back is not the only place that individuals feel the pain from sciatica. Sciatica pain can affect people’s legs too. To help cure sciatic leg pain, you should position the TENS unit electrodes on the posterior side of your legs. Just like with your back, modify and regulate the frequency of the machine and change the position of the pads until you feel pain relief.

A TENS unit is certainly a safe method to try before delving into medications and exploring other more invasive or expensive methods. You can find TENS units to purchase online or in many pharmacies.