How To Use A TENS Unit For Knee Pain (Detailed Guide w/pics)

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TENS unit Knee Pain

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Using a TENS unit correctly placed has been shown to be an effective form of pain management for knee pain. The good part is that a TENS unit is a great substitute for over the counter and/or prescribed pain medications.

Using a TENS Unit for Knee Pain

You want to place one TENS pad where you are experiencing pain and about 1 inch apart from one another. Feel free to move the pad if it is not in the right place. When placing the TENS unit pads you should NEVER put them over your knee cap.

TENS for knee pain

tens placement for knee pain

When using 4 electrode pads hook up both lead wires and put the electrodes in a ‘square pattern’ surrounding the area of pain. Basically you want it to look like a criss-cross pattern.

The pad placement looks like a big “X” with the middle of the “X” being the center of your pain.  As a side note: If you happen to be experiencing pain in the back of your knee it is ok to place the pads there.

Once you have positioned the pads where you want them turn on the TENS unit and set to the desired level. Use the TENS unit for about 20-30 minutes. My physical therapist recommended having an ice pack over the knee to help with reducing the pain and inflammation right after the treatment.

The TENS therapy along with the home exercises and stretching helped with the pain and after about 7 weeks the pain subsided.

How High Should I Set My TENS Unit? click here to read what settings to use.


My pick for: Best TENS Unit For Knee Pain

iReliev tens ems

This is the exact TENS unit that I use.  It is perfect for treating knee pain. The iReliev is a great little device and has a lot of going for it. It is under $90, has a several programs to choose from and is small enough to fit in your pocket.

You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality TENS unit and iReliev gives you a ton of value for the price being paid.

Get yours today on the iReliev website by clicking here.

Helpful hint: To get the most out of your electrode pads- Wash the area where the pad will be placed. This will remove any natural oils in your skin.  Over time the oil in your skin can make the electrode pads “less sticky”. This will extend the life of the electrode pads saving you $$ in the long run.

Check out my comprehensive TENS unit placement guide:

Neck Pain
Shoulder Pain
Tension Headaches
Golfer’s Elbow
Plantar Fasciitis
Rotator Cuff Pain
and more…..

*note- Pain in your knees can have many causes; ask your doctor or therapist what would be the best course of treatment. A TENS unit may be an effective treatment for knee pain,arthritis and tendinitis.

Did you know……In addition to alleviating knee pain a TENS unit can also be used to help:
• Knee arthritis
• Knee tendinitis
Knee replacement pain

What Are The Benefits Of Using A TENS Unit?

• Increased circulation
• Improvement of sleep
• Pain relief
• Minimize the use of pain relievers and or other prescribed medication to alleviate pain.
• Increased range of motion and function

Precautions to take when using a TENS machine
• Do not put the electrode pads on skin that is damaged, broken or irritated.
• Never place the electrode pads on the front or side of the neck
• Never place close to your eyes
• Never use close to your mouth

Some things to consider when placing the electrode pads on your skin:

1. First wash the area of the skin where the pads will be placed. You can use a mild soap and water before applying electrodes, just make sure that you rinse the soap off and dry skin to remove any moisture.

2. If the area for the electrode pads has hair you can use some scissors to remove excess hair. It is not necessary to shave the area where the pads will be placed.

3. Sometimes a skin problem can happen from the “pulling stress” from the sticky adhesive that the pads have. This can happen when the pads are overly stretched across the skin during use. To avoid this, apply the pads from center outward; do not stretch the pads over the skin.

4. When it is time to the remove the pads, it is best to always remove by pulling in the direction of hair growth.

5. A good rule to follow is to NEVER apply pads over broken or irritated skin.
6.After removing you can put some skin lotion on the area where the pad was.

About the author

3 responses to “How To Use A TENS Unit For Knee Pain (Detailed Guide w/pics)”

  1. Dan Avatar
    Dan

    Can a TENS UNIT be used to alivate pain from a knee replacement ?

    1. Optimize Health 365 Avatar
      Optimize Health 365

      Hi Dan,

      A TENS unit can help with pain from knee replacement surgery. It will take some experimenting on your part to find the settings that deliver relief as everyone has different pain thresholds. TENS units are safe to use and is common to use after knee replacement surgeries.

  2. […] you attach an electrode pad directly to a sore muscle or painful nerve. When hoping to use a TENS unit for knee pain, it’s vital to never place a pad directly on the kneecap. Instead, use a plus or cross-like […]

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