What is TENS therapy? What is a TENS machine?

TENS is an electro therapy - and one of the physical therapies used by physiotherapists, pain management specialists, massage therapists and rehabilitation specialists. TENS therapy is delivered via a TENS machine. Within health circles the machines are also called medical devices or electro therapy units.

The acronym TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (also called T.E.N.S.).

The first TENS machine was invented by Australian physiotherapist, Mr Jim Lamers in 1971. Jim was the founder of our company and his research is incorporated into the design of all our current day products. Jim and his daughter, Robyn, first used the term "TENS" in 1972. The rest of the world has since adopted the acronym - and TENS has become a generic term for both the therapy and the devices.

Medical Purpose of TENS therapy

The 3 main functions of TENS therapy are Sensory nerve stimulation, Cell membrane stimulation and Motor nerve stimulation.

  1. Sensory nerve stimulation (TENS) is for fast and lasting pain relief and relaxation; mechanisms include pain gating and release of endorphins, encephalin and serotonin

  2. Cell membrane stimulation (ECS) opens cell walls to improve circulation and hasten musculoskeletal repair

  3. Motor nerve stimulation (EMS) is used to prevent muscle atrophy and strengthen specific muscle after injury or surgery; also for pelvic floor muscles to prevent incontinence

Effective TENS therapy

Effective therapy is so much more than just a machine. It comprises correct, professional diagnosis of the medical condition, combined with an overall management program, including:

  • TENS advice and guidance based on clinical evidence

  • TENS machine functions based on medical science

  • Correct positioning of the electrodes (or pads)

  • Concise, easy to follow TENS treatment guidelines

Components of a TENS machine kit

The TENS machine itself is a small, electronic medical device - a control unit. In addition to the control unit, you will also require a connecting lead and electrodes [also called pads or patches].

How to use a TENS machine

  • The control unit attaches to the lead, which connects to the pads

  • The pads are placed on the relevant part of the body and the unit is turned ON

  • Two pads are necessary to close the electrical circuit

  • There are different functions or modes of operation and different power settings to choose from

  • The whole ActivLife system is very small, simple to use and battery powered

  • Our batteries are rechargeable

An ActivLife TENS machine can be used outside the clinical environment - by private individuals, on a daily basis.

Components and assembly

You can wear our device anywhere, at anytime - across a wide range of locations on your body. You can leave it on for as long as you need it and no-one else need ever know you are wearing it.

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Instructions for TENS use

ActivLife provides extremely helpful information in our User Guides and on this website. Information is specific to each medical purpose and includes:

  • Safety information

  • Placement of pads

  • Function or mode to choose

  • Power setting to choose

  • Length of time to apply

  • How often to repeat the therapy program