Best TENS machines for labour and back pain

by Stephanie Anthony |
Updated on

Are you are looking for drug-free pain relief during labour? Are experiencing lower or upper back pain during pregnancy? If the answer is yes, the best TENS machines will provide the instant results you are after.

If it’s labour that you specifically want a TENS machine for, then you can start practicing using your machine at around 37 weeks into your pregnancy. However, if you are suffering from back pain after your pregnancy or are simply looking for a solution for a bad back, then a TENS machine might be something to consider immediately.

In this article, we look at what a TENS machine is and how it works, the best TENS machines currently available on the market, who can use one and how to apply it for the best results.

What is a TENS machine?

A TENS machine delivers tiny electric shocks to the body for a natural form of pain relief. The electrical pulses interfere with the pain messages being sent to the brain, which is why it can also be an effective form of pain relief during the early stages of labour. It is not recommended that you use a TENS machine during early pregnancy and during those later months of pregnancy, you may prefer a pregnancy support belt. However, it is an excellent way of administering pain relief without the use of medications after you give birth.

You also can't use a TENS machine if you suffer from heart problems, epilepsy or have a heart pacemaker. They certainly can't be used if you're planning to have a water birth. Make sure you speak to your GP or midwife before purchasing a TENS machine to find out whether it's suitable for you.

How do you use a TENS machine for back pain?

Firstly, follow the instructions according to the model you are using to use the device properly. Generally, you will start by placing the electrode patches on clean skin at the location of the pain in your back. The patches are usually attached to the machine with wires, and depending on the type of machine, you may have to use conductive gel.

The machine will usually start pulsing at around 80Hz. If your pain sharpens, you can then increase the pulses. After some time, you may experience ‘accommodation’, which is when your body adjusts to the pain, and you can then increase the pulses again.

You can choose to use either two or four electrode pads depending on how large the area of pain is that you are tending to. If your lower back pain is on one side, try using two electrodes. Place one pad at the top point of the pain and one pad below (about one inch apart). Try to place the pads on the muscle, as opposed to directly onto your backbone.

TENS machines for labour and back pain

Best value TENS machine
AUVON Dual Channel TENS Machine

Rrp: £32.99

Price: £28.99


This dual-channel TENS device has separate modes and intensities for channel A and channel B. It

Best TENS machine for modes and programmes
Beurer EM49 Digital TENS Machine

Rrp: £64.99

Price: £44.99


The double channel TENS device from Beurer has a large backlit LCD-display which shows you exactly

Best TENS machine for TENS function and EMS functions
prorelax EMS u0026amp; TENS machine
Price: £50.94


This natural form of pain relief is proven to relieve all kinds of pain and ache, reduce spasms

Best TENS machine for easy use and massage mode
The TENS Company Med-Fit TENS Machine

Rrp: £33.95

Price: £29.95


This machine comes with a large and clear digital display that is easy to use when setting your

Best wireless TENS machine
Med-Fitu00ae Wireless Mini TENS machine

Rrp: £35.95

Price: £29.99


This mini TENS machine is a great wire-free option compared to the others listed. It comes with

Pain Doctor Conductive Gel
Price: £12.95


The conductive gel will improve conductivity for best stimulation and results. These 100ml bottles

How much does a TENS machine cost?

TENS machines used to be very expensive, but you can now pick one up for around £50 or less online, or at a pharmacy.

How long does pain relief last?

The duration of pain relief after using a TENS machine can vary. However, some people report that their pain returns as soon as they switch off the device. Other users state that their pain does not return for a while after, such as for 24 hours or more.

Here is a video from Ask Doctor Jo's YouTube channel on how to apply a TENS machine unit for back pain.

Do TENS machines work?

The Endorphin Release theory suggests that TENS works by sending electric current that only focuses on the sensory nerve endings that control pain. These currents that pass to the brain releases endorphins, a hormone known as the body’s natural painkiller. These endorphins act exactly like prescription drugs, but without the side effects.

TENS can be used to alleviate pain caused by a wide range of problems like back pain, joint pains, arthritis, sciatica, nerve pain, bone pain, neck pain, sports injuries, muscle pain, and even period pain. Although sometimes, it is also used during labour as a method of pain relief.

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