TENS machines can be a non-invasive way to manage pregnancy pain and help soothe and comfort aches and pains. Many of us understand the basic principles of the sticky pads which attach to parts of your body with wires, but where should TENS pads not be placed? 

In our helpful article, we will find out the definitive answer, alongside discovering why and also the best places to put them for comfort and safety. 

So let’s offer up a brief takeaway answer first, so you can start using your TENS machine straight away! But then we’ll get into more of the details which you should be aware of. 

TENS pads should not be placed on the neck, temples, over or near the eyes, and any part of the head. Avoid placing them directly over damaged skin, joints, such as knees and elbows. Do not use it on genitals, chest area if you have cardiovascular disease or in any cancer or suspected cancer sites.

Ok with the brief answer covered, so we can understand a little more about where TENS machine pads should not be placed, let’s find out how the sticky pads work. 

How sticky pads work on a TENS machine 

How to manage pain and labor in pregnancy using a TENS machine is something many moms are planning for. If you are looking for natural methods of pain relief it’s worth discovering more about how it works so you can make sure you get all the best benefits. 

So as we discovered earlier, TENS machines work by sending an electronic impulse to your body via a set of sticky pads connected with wires. 

The more accurate name is ‘electrodes’ but most people refer to them as sticky pads.

The way a TENS machine works is that the electrical impulse travels from the machine, through the wire, and then delivered to the parts of your body that feel pain. The sticky pads essentially are the most effective way of attaching the electrode to your skin. 

With sticky pads that secure wires which attach to the machine, it means that it’s easier to be mobile while using your machine. 

The sticky pads also help you get the best out of your TENS machines. 

This is because they are designed to stay in place and work best while you are moving around link to ‘can you walk around using TENS machine?’ either walking or doing chores rather than sitting stationary. 

“The sticky pads essentially are the most effective way of attaching the electrode to your skin.”

Ok so with that covered, let’s look now in more depth at some of the places you shouldn’t put TENS pads. 

Where should TENS pads not be placed? 

So although there are many areas on your body where you can place TENS pads to help relax you, and stay in control during labor and pregnancy, there are some places that it isn’t safe to put them. 

We will start by investigating general areas and occasional issues you may wish to avoid at certain times, before going to specific body areas which should be avoided at all times.

General body areas

  • Heart disease: If you have any kind of heart disease such as heart palpitations, angina, or any kind of cardiovascular disease, do not place pads on the heart/chest area
  • Cancer sites: As the consequences are unknown as to how TENS may affect cancer cells, it’s not advised to use pads near any sites where you may have or have had cancer. As there have been few studies on this aspect of where to use TENS pads, so it is currently advisory. 
  • Open Wounds: Apart from the fact it may cause more pain to place a sticky pad electrode directly over an open wound, it could also spread infections to other parts of your body. This is especially true if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from tuberculosis or other issues such as bone infections.
  • Damaged skin: As damaged skin may be weaker it’s not advised to use TENS pads directly over healing skin. This is mainly because it can cause more pain and also tissue damage. It’s also not safe to use them directly over any tissue areas that have fairly recently been treated with radiation. 
  • Areas of abnormal growth: For much the same reasons as above, Do not use TENS pads near areas of any abnormal growths which may be cancerous.
  • Scar tissue: It’s not advised to place TENS pads over scar tissue as it’s not known in enough detail how the tissue might react 
  • Body areas lacking sensation: This could be sites recovering from surgery or could be any part of your body where you have numbness and/or tingling sensations. 

  • Acupuncture points: Common acupuncture pressure points such as knee, hands, and ankle can increase contractions when pregnant. So it’s best to avoid these areas during pregnancy. 

Ok, that’s covered some general situations and areas which may not be safe to use TENS pads. So what about specific areas of your body? 

Let’s move on to that next. 

Specific body areas where it’s not safe to use TENS pads 

  • The neck, the front, and both sides 
  • Never place TENS pads near or over eyes
  • Temples  
  • Avoid the head area entirely 
  • Directly over joints such as knee, elbows, and ankle 
  • Genitals and genital area 

With general and more specific body areas covered, you might be wondering if there are any other situations where it’s not advised to use a TENS machine.

Read on to discover more. 

When should a TENS machine not be used? 

  • Anyone suffering from epilepsy as TENS could bring on a seizure.
  • Any thrombosis areas. TENS pads placed here could stimulate circulation which might have dangerous consequences.
  • Any person with a mental impairment may not fully understand its use.

Where should I put TENS machine pads to best manage pain? 

Although there are many different ways to use a TENS machine, those wondering where you shouldn’t put the pads will benefit from understanding the best place to put them. 

For any area where you are feeling pain, it’s really worth placing two pads near the pain site. So putting one on either side can give a double electrode hit to more direct the pain-relieving power of the machine. 

One of the best ways of using the two pads is to put one directly onto the area you are feeling pain and then simply place another nearby. 

 For more intense feelings of pain around a particular area, try using four pads to completely surround the pain site. 

So now we’ve details about some of the places not to use TENS machine pads, you might be wondering how to keep the pads sticky after prolonged use. 

Let’s move on to that next. 

How can you restore stickiness to TENS machine pads? 

As with any sticky type of product, such as a band-aid, etc., it’s not surprising to understand that after a while the surface of the product stops sticking. 

A TENS  machine pad is a little like a band-aid, in so far as if you constantly applied and removed one, eventually, it would stop sticking effectively. 

This is for a few reasons. The constant contact with your skin means that dirt and debris along with the constant regeneration of skin cells and your natural body oil reduce their sticky effectiveness. 

Keep your TENS pads clean for longer use 

Like any other product, a TENS machine and pads are no different in the fact you need to look after them for them to last. Make sure you clean the pads regularly. 

The best way to do this is just simply gently wiping with a well wrung out cloth. This will help to remove much of the debris that will otherwise slowly reduce the stickiness of the pads. 

And finally… 

So we hope that’s helped you to get the best out of your TENS machine safely and understand a little more about how it can help you manage pain in pregnancy and labor. 

Don’t forget to pop by our store for lots of super safe and natural products for pregnancy, labor, and beyond!