TENS machines represent a hugely effective pain relief modality for sciatica, while remaining far cheaper than long courses of physiotherapy or chiropractic. Today, we are going to discuss the 10 best TENS machines for sciatica pain relief.
If you would like to read about how a TENS machine works for sciatica, or how to use a TENS machine for sciatica effectively, click HERE or scroll to the bottom of this article.
Top 10 Best TENS Machines for Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome Pain Relief
Below are my recommended TENS machines for sciatica and piriformis syndrome. Any of the selections below are TENS machines that I have reviewed myself and feel represent both high levels of effectiveness and amazing value for money.
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#1 – TENSCare Perfect TENS Pain Relief Machine
This TENS machine for sciatica has 8 preset programs so you don’t need to “tune it” yourself – just pick a setting and off you go! There is an option to purchase a ‘Value Pack’ which includes spare pads which I would definitely recommend.
#2 – OSITO TENS Machine for Sciatica Pain Relief
The OSITO design is robust and secure, meaning you’ll be able to carry it with you wherever you go. It is re-chargeable and portable – perfect for on-the-go and busy individuals. The reusable pads have up to 50 uses in them, so replacement pads won’t be constantly needed. This unit is also available at a very reasonable price.
#3 – TPN 200 Plus TENS Machine
A super-simple yet sleek design, this TENS machine is perfect for those who want a highly effective model and are confident with using a TENS machine for sciatica pain relief. This unit doesn’t have a fancy display, so you can customize the settings to best suit your needs, tweaking and changing the frequency until you find one that works best for you.
This machine is only available in the UK at present, but there is an excellent alternative (provided under the US Amazon link). This is the OMRON Max Power TENS unit – it provides similar functionality and will help just as well with pain relief for sciatica.
#4 – Fineway TENS Machine for Sciatica
This TENS machine is a great middle-range product – it has solid reviews and comes with plenty of pads for when the adhesive pads run out. It is also rechargeable – so over time you’ll save money compared to units where you have to change the batteries every other week.
The closest US alternative is the TENS Unit Plus 24 in the US. The functionality is very similar and the units look almost identical. The US version also comes with a Lifetime Warranty and more pads.
#5 – TENS Machine for Sciatica – Muscle Stimulator
This TENS Machine for sciatica may be the pick of the list – with its stylish design and reliable build and performance (as reinforced by the excellent reviews on this TENS machine). Key features include TWENTY-FOUR different intensity levels – meaning you can fully customise the TENS treatment to suit your individual sensitivity. This unit is extremely well priced for its specifications.
#6 – SHANGPS Digital Therapy TENS Machine for Sciatica
The SHANGPS design has revolutionized the way TENS machines are used for sciatica – meaning you can now get effective pain relief on the go. With its discrete design, you can easily conceal this under clothing and continue with your day to day tasks without having to stop and sit down to use a TENS machine for sciatica pain relief. Purchase with spare pads for the best value for money.
#7 – POWERDOT 2.0 TENS Machine for Sciatica
The Powerdot 2.0 is a completely revolutionary product when it comes to TENS machines for sciatica. It is pricier than the alternatives on this list but the functionality it contains means that you can connect it to an App on your phone and control it through your iPhone, and the design allows it to slip under clothes undetected. This means that you can get effective relief on-the-go. If you can afford it, this may be the best option on the list.
#8 – MedFit TENS Machine for Sciatica
The MedFit model of TENS Machine for sciatica pain relief is one of the most popular TENS machines on the market currently. Its reliable yet simple build make it an ideal TENS for home and on-the-go use. Although the design is less fancy than some of the other TENS machines for sciatica on this list – the simple dual control allows you to adjust time and intensity on the fly. No preset programmes necessary, which may suit those who know exactly what they like already!
#9 – BabyCare TENS Machine
Now, we know that childbirth and sciatica fight it out to take the crown as “Most Painful Experience” a human can go through. The TENS machine above was designed to ease the pain of childbirth – meaning it has to be EXCEPTIONALLY strong and effective in relieving pain. Why not try this TENS machine for sciatica instead? This unit has won awards for the way it has helped new mothers through labour. Give it a try for your sciatica and see if it lives up to its reputation.
#10 – MedFit iStim TENS Machine for Sciatica
Last but not least, this TENS machine for sciatica from MedFit is another robust model that you can tune in yourself – choosing the duration and intensity of the treatment each time. It has 186 fantastic reviews and comes with extra electrode pads – although the ones included with the device have a long life, too.
The Science Behind TENS Machines for Sciatica Pain Relief
So, how exactly can TENS relieve sciatica?
TENS units send a low-voltage electrical pulse to your skin, which travels through to the muscles and nerves. This pulse does three things:
- First, it stimulates your nerves and causes the production of endorphins – your body’s natural pain killer.
- Second, it can also confuse or block pain signals from entering your nervous system and spinal cord.
- Third, the electrical impulses can help the tight, constricted muscles in the painful area RELAX, providing instant relief.
What Do I Need to Know About Using TENS Machines for Sciatica?
Depending on the level of pain and desired result, some people may get great benefit out of their TENS unit for as little as one 30-minute session.
Others may need to use the unit for longer – up to several hours a day. But don’t worry – it’s easy to fit the use of your TENS machine around your day as they fit in your pocket and are unnoticeable to others around you.
You will need to place at least two pads on your body when using a TENS machine. This is so the electrical current can travel from one pad to the other via your skin, nerves and muscles. If you wear only one pad, there won’t be any effect.
Keep reading to learn exactly HOW to use your TENS machine for sciatica!
Are There Any Side Effects When Using TENS Machines for Sciatica?
Generally speaking, TENS Machines are very safe and come without the risk profile of many other treatments or medications.
Side effects that do exist are usually no worse than skin irritation if electrodes remain in the same place for several days.
However, patients with pre-existing heart conditions, those who wear a pacemaker, and pregnant women should always talk with their doctors before starting to use a TENS machine.
Research Behind TENS Machines for Sciatica
Although research on the effectiveness of TENS machine therapy for sciatica is somewhat inconsistent, most medical professionals agree that the outcome is generally positive.
Approximately 70% to 80% of people with sciatica experience pain relief during their FIRST use of a TENS machine.
However, I feel that using a TENS machine provides something of a “window of opportunity” for people who are looking to start an exercise programme for sciatica but are currently limited by severe pain. If the initial relief of pain from using the TENS machine allows the introduction of gentle exercises, TENS therapy can ultimately lead to very long-lasting pain relief!
In terms of setting up your TENS machine effectively, research has shown that any level of stimulation offers some pain relief.
However, a longer-lasting, deeper level of relief comes when the TENS unit is carefully calibrated to find the correct dosage. This means that it may take some trial and error for you to work out exactly which settings, duration and pad placement work best for you. Don’t give up too soon if your TENS machine doesn’t work first time!
How to Use a TENS Machine for Sciatica
To start the TENS therapy simply attach the electrodes to the machine and then attach the machine to your skin on your legs or lower back. Adjust the unit until you feel pain relief. As I mentioned earlier, it may take several tries until your find the right frequency, duration and strength of electrical current.
Positioning the electrodes on certain specific locations on your lower back and leg can better ease the pain.
This video below provides a great explanation of how to place the electrode pads:
TENS Pad Placement When Using a TENS Machine for Sciatica
TENS pad placement for sciatica is critical when using this modality. Get this and the TENS unit settings for sciatica correct and the relief can be very quick indeed.
Where to Place TENS Pads for Sciatica Nerve Pain AND Back Pain
One option is to position the electrodes on your lower back near the area of back pain. Adjust the frequency as necessary and move the electrode pads around as necessary to achieve the best relief from your pain.
The pictures below should give you some idea as to where is best for you to place your pads.
You should begin to feel relief from TENS very quickly after you have found the settings and pad placement that are best for you.
If You Have Sciatica ONLY or Piriformis Syndrome
To relieve leg pain, place the electrodes on the back of the legs. The pictures below should help with pad placement.
Again, keep adjusting the frequency and move the pads until you relieve the radiating pains in your legs.
I would recommend that you place one pad near the “top” of your painful area, and the other pad near the “bottom” of your painful area. You can place up to four pads – you could try two pads on your back and two pads on your legs.
As I mentioned before, try placing the pads at the top and bottom of your painful zone, so the current travels through the painful region between the pads.
If you find one particularly painful region on your back or legs, it’s a good idea to place an electrode right over this spot so the strongest effect occurs through this zone.
What Else Can Help to Provide Sciatica Pain Relief, Other than TENS?
#1 – Lumbar Roll
A lumbar roll is a specially designed cushion that goes behind your lower back when sitting.
It increases the curve in the lower back, which many people find takes pressure off a bulging disc in the lower back when sitting (which can be the worst position for a lot of people).
Here is a great option for a lumbar roll for the office, car and home:
#2 – Creams for Sciatica Pain Relief
There are a number of rubs and creams that can help to relieve pain from sciatica on the market. In this section of the article, I’m going to share with you which products I believe to be the best creams for sciatica pain relief.
Always consult your doctor before starting any new medication, including creams.
Best Cream for Sciatica Pain – Voltarol
This product contains an anti-inflammatory that helps to calm any inflammation around the affected nerve root when someone is suffering from sciatica.
What’s more, it also contains a natural product that will help to relax hyper-tense muscles and reduce pain, as well as provide a soothing effect to the area. For this reason, I would place it as my go-to and best cream for sciatica pain relief.
5Kind Hemp Active Gel
Hemp-based products have grown in popularity over the last few years. I always keep a close eye on the research regarding hemp and CBD – and the research shows mixed results.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard great things from users of hemp gel as a cream for sciatica pain relief, and I had one client that used it to relieve back pain to great effect.
The product shown is one of the best on the market right now with over 11,000 ratings and an average of 4.5/5 stars!
Keentox Hemp Cream
Another Hemp Cream for sciatica pain, this product has incredible reviews and contains an array of ingredients that have been shown to contribute to decreasing inflammation and pain in various studies.
You’ll find turmeric, arnica and of course hemp extract in this product making it an excellent choice.
Rub onto your back or leg for best results (of course, check with your doctor first).
I was never convinced by the CBD craze when it all began, but I am starting to see more compelling evidence for its use in some people, in some cases.
While I don’t believe CBD to be “magic”, I do feel this product has potential to relieve some of the muscle pain experienced in the lower back for many people with sciatica.
That is why this product makes it onto the list of the best creams for sciatica pain relief. Check out the reviews of this product – they are really outstanding, with a perfect 5-star rating.
What Other Products for Sciatica Relief Can Help?
I’m a big believer in the power of improving your general health when it comes to sciatica pain relief.
If you’re struggling with your mobility due to sciatica, one thing that might help is to address other general health issues like your weight, your diet and your general exercise.
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Hopefully the suggested TENS machines and the guide on how to use them for maximum effect has helped you make a great decision on which TENS machine for sciatica you’ll choose.
Have you experienced relief with a TENS machine? If so, which one did you use?
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