Using TENS Units for Shoulder Pain Relief

Many patients want to know: is it possible to use a TENS unit for neck and shoulder pain? The answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to know, especially if you plan to use TENS for neck pain.



How to use a TENS Unit for Shoulder Pain

Using TENS units for shoulder pain or shoulder related injuries is very similar to using it for any other part of the body. Electrodes are placed on or near where you feel the pain and the settings adjusted properly until relief is achieved. But since shoulders are a joint, and round, there are some additional steps to take when placing the electrode pads.
Use TENS for shoulder pain
TENS electrode pads can be placed on shoulders to alleviate pain from different types of injuries.

TENS Unit Placement for Shoulder Pain

Placement of TENS unit electrodes is essential for proper pain relief. The TENS electrodes need to be placed right on (or around) the area of pain. This allows the electrical impulses to work to interfere with the pain signals. You can move the TENS pads around slightly until you find the right placement for maximum pain relief. The right spot may or may not be right over the pain. See our TENS electrode placement chart for more information and diagrams.


Steps to using TENS machines for shoulder pain relief:

  1. Place electrodes over the area of pain, for joint pain place on both sides of the joint
  2. Turn on machine and adjust settings to find the right pain relief
  3. Move pads if you aren't finding relief until you find the correct spot
  4. Continue treatment for 30 minutes


Where do you place TENS electrodes for shoulder pain?

For shoulder injuries, place the TENS electrode pads right over the area of pain. Start by placing the electrodes on the shoulders where you feel the most pain. Set the unit and adjust as necessary until you find pain relief. If you are not feeling relief, moving the electrodes around on the skin to just the right area can increase the amount of pain relief you feel.

TENS Placement for Shoulder Muscle Injuries

If you feel pain in a shoulder muscle that is on one side, place the electrodes right over the pain area, one pad on each side of the pain area. Say you feel pain on the back of your shoulder due to a muscle injury or strain. Set one electrode on each side of the pain area.

TENS Electrode Placement for Rotator Cuff or Joint Injuries

For rotator cuff injuries or shoulder injuries with pain inside the joint, you can place one TENS electrode on the front and one of the back of the shoulder over the joint. This may provide better relief than placing the electrodes on one side only. The TENS electrode pads can be moved anywhere over the joint on the front and back, or on the side of the shoulder. This allows the pain signal disruption in the joint area. Since rotator cuff injuries involve pain deeper inside the tissue of the shoulder, the electrical impulses need to go deeper into your body to disrupt the pain. You can still move the pads slightly until you get the best pain relief. Adjust the TENS pulse length and intensity as you see fit. For treating shoulder injuries, a shoulder electrode pad is recommended.