How to Use a Tens Unit for Golfers Elbow


Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow are pervasive overuse injuries that affect a diverse range of individuals, from athletes to office workers, often as a result of repetitive arm movements. The persistent discomfort and pain in the outer and inner elbow areas can significantly impede daily activities and even athletic performance.

While traditional remedies such as rest, icing, and physical therapy have demonstrated efficacy, a growing curiosity surrounds alternative approaches to pain management. Among these emerging solutions, the utilization of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines has garnered considerable attention.

In this extensive content guide, we will navigate the realm of therapy using TENS for tennis elbow and golf elbows, shedding light on its therapeutic advantages, optimal application methods, and crucial factors to ensure efficacious pain relief and accelerated recovery.

Table of Contents

Understanding Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis gold elbows of golfers are prevalent ailments that impact the elbow and often stem from repetitive motions of the arm (such as lifting and gripping). Tennis elbow, medically termed lateral epicondylitis, occurs when the tendons located on the outer part of the elbow become inflamed or develop minor tears.

In contrast, the golf elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, targets the tendons situated on the inner side of the elbow. Both conditions can result in pain, sensitivity, and challenges in grasping objects or executing specific arm actions. Nonetheless, while individuals with tennis elbow encounter discomfort on the outer elbow, a golf elbow is characterized by inner elbow discomfort instead

What causes tennis and golf’s elbow?

Tennis elbow often arises due to specific actions that stress the tendons on the outer side of the elbow. Activities involving repetitive motions like gripping and twisting objects using the hand and wrist can result in the development of tennis elbow. 

While this can happen while playing tennis, it’s more frequently observed in professions like manual labor and office work. Movements that engage the thumb location and the first two fingers in a pronated hand position (palm facing downward), such as typing and hammering, tend to exacerbate the condition.

Conversely, golf elbow is also brought about by repetitive activities that strain the tendons on the inner side of the elbow. Similarly to tennis elbow, repetitive actions like gripping and twisting objects using the hand and wrist can trigger golf elbow. Although this condition is associated with golf, it’s commonly noticed in individuals such as manual laborers and weightlifting people. Movements involving the hand and wrist in a supinated position (palms facing up), like bicep curls and throwing, can intensify the discomfort.

What exactly is a TENS machine, and how does it contribute to alleviating the discomfort of tennis and golfer’s elbow?

TENS machines are compact medical devices employed to provide relief for various conditions, including chronic arthritis, tendonitis, and even tennis/golfer’s elbow. Operating via electrode gel pads, the TENS unit transmits electrical impulses through the skin. These impulses effectively interfere with the transmission of pain signals from the pain source to the brain. Additionally, TENS treatment can enhance blood circulation and diminish swelling.

Moreover, the persistent pain and discomfort associated with these conditions can significantly disrupt daily activities and hinder athletic performance. Simple tasks like holding a cup or typing on a keyboard become painful experiences. Athletes find their swings compromised, and productivity dwindles for office workers. The quest for effective pain relief has led many to explore alternative approaches beyond conventional treatments.

Conventional Treatments

Rest and its Limitations

One of the initial steps in treating these elbow injuries is rest. While effective, complete rest might not be feasible for individuals with active lifestyles or demanding jobs. Prolonged rest can also lead to muscle atrophy and decreased joint mobility.

Role of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in rehabilitating elbow injuries. Therapists employ exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall joint function. However, progress can be gradual, and some individuals seek faster relief.

Icing and Its Effects

Icing the affected area helps reduce inflammation and provides temporary pain relief. Yet, it’s a short-term solution and doesn’t address the underlying causes of the pain.

Emergence of Alternative Solutions

Seeking Effective Pain Management

The limitations of conventional treatments have prompted the search for more efficient pain management strategies. Individuals desire methods that not only alleviate pain but also accelerate the healing process and restore normalcy to their lives.

Exploring Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has gained attention as a potential breakthrough in pain management. TENS involves the use of a small, portable device that delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the affected area via electrodes placed on the skin.

Unveiling TENS Therapy

How TENS Machines Operate

TENS machines can be used to help and operate on the principle of electrically stimulating the nerves to alleviate pain. The electrical impulses emitted by the device disrupt the pain signals traveling to the brain, leading to a reduction in perceived pain.

Mechanism of Pain Alleviation

TENS also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This dual-action mechanism provides both immediate relief and a cumulative healing

What is the most effective approach for utilizing a TENS machine to address tennis and golfer’s elbow?

The most practical and efficient method to relieve tennis discomfort and golfer’s elbow is to wear a digital TENS conductive elbow brace. This specialized brace offers comprehensive coverage around the elbow, delivering electrical impulses evenly. 

This eliminates the requirement for multiple electrode gel pads and the need to search for precise placement. Moreover, the brace ensures uniform and more extensive distribution of the electrical current, providing a thorough treatment in contrast to traditional electrode pad attachments.

Here are the recommended guidelines for utilizing a TENS unit:

Placement of electrode pads for tennis and golfer’s elbow

Please consult the provided manual or seek guidance from a healthcare professional regarding the arrangement of electrode pads around the area affected by tennis and golfer’s elbow. Typically, the treatment zone lies between the pad placements. In the case of tennis elbow, position the pads around the outer region of the elbow. Conversely, for individuals with a golfer’s elbow, position the pads around the inner part of the elbow.

Conductive clothing as a substitute for electrode pads

Simplify the process of determining the correct positions for multiple electrode pads around the elbow for treating tennis and golfer’s elbow. Instead, consider using the TENS conductive elbow brace, which snugly encircles the joint. This alternative eliminates the necessity of pinpoint placement and can be employed for various elbow conditions, including golfers and tennis elbow.

Configuring the TENS Mode for tennis and golfer’s elbow

Various parameters on the TENS unit can be adjusted to address the symptoms of golfer’s and tennis elbow. Depending on the specific TENS unit, you can modify or select suitable pre-set configurations. The primary settings encompass three aspects: frequency (hertz), intensity (mA), and pulse width (μs). 

Among these, only the intensity setting can be altered during the treatment session, as it determines the treatment’s strength. An intensity set too low might not yield therapeutic effects, whereas excessive intensity could result in increased discomfort. The optimal treatment intensity should evoke a strong yet tingling sensation without causing irritation.

Adjusting the Pulse Rate (Frequency) for tennis elbow and golfer’s

The pulse rate signifies the quantity of electrical impulses administered within a specific duration. Increased frequency corresponds to a greater number of electrical impulses. A lower frequency (typically ranging from 2 to 5Hz) can offer extended pain relief, whereas higher frequencies (between 90 and 130Hz) yield more immediate relief within a shorter span. Nevertheless, an English research study demonstrated that employing a frequency of 110Hz notably alleviated pain and discomfort inside the elbow.

Customizing the Pulse Width for addressing tennis and golfer’s elbow

Presently, further investigation is required to fully comprehend the role of pulse width in pain alleviation. Nonetheless, in the aforementioned UK study, experts suggested utilizing the pre-set pulse width of 200μs. However, this setting can be adapted according to the user’s reaction to the TENS unit. For additional direction, it’s advisable to consult appropriate healthcare practitioners, such as physiotherapists or physicians.

Harnessing TENS Technology for Alleviating Elbow Discomfort

Nagging elbow discomfort often stems from excessive engagement. Individuals immersed in sports or activities that heavily involve the arms—such as golf and tennis—are prone to elbow strain and subsequent pain. In parallel, those engaged in manual labor or responsible for tending to young children frequently grapple with elbow discomfort. 

However, enduring elbow pain shouldn’t necessitate relinquishing cherished pursuits. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units provide a remedy for elbow pain, regardless of whether it’s fleeting or persistent, empowering you to embrace your passions while tending to your well-being.

In the realm of pain alleviation, TENS units prove their efficacy in addressing different types of elbow pain conditions:

  • Sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Throwing injuries
  • Trapped nerves
  • Bursitis
  • Elbow dislocation
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

With the power of TENS technology, you can navigate the path to pain relief and regain the enjoyment of a pain-free lifestyle.

Check this out: Best TENS Units For Cellulite

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a TENS Unit for Golfer’s Elbow

1. Gathering the Necessary Equipment

Collect your TENS unit, electrodes, and any required accessories.

2. Preparing the Skin

Clean and dry the area around your elbow thoroughly.

3. Applying the Electrodes

Attach the electrodes to the designated areas on your forearm as instructed.

4. Adjusting the Settings

Set the TENS unit to the recommended settings or as advised by your healthcare provider.

5. Initiating the TENS Therapy

Start the TENS unit and gradually increase the intensity until you feel a comfortable tingling sensation.

Dos and Don’ts of TENS Therapy

  • Do: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Do: Gradually increase intensity to a tolerable level.
  • Don’t: Use TENS while driving or sleeping.
  • Don’t: Place electrodes over your heart, head, or throat.

Complementary Techniques for Golfer’s Elbow

Incorporate gentle stretching, ice application, and ergonomic adjustments into your routine for better results.

Monitoring Progress and Frequency of Use

Track your pain levels and adjust the TENS sessions as needed. Use it for about 20-30 minutes at a time, allowing your skin to rest between sessions.

Possible Side Effects

TENS therapy is generally safe, but some individuals might experience skin irritation or a tingling sensation. If these symptoms persist, discontinue use.

When to Consult a Medical Professional

If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve after using a TENS unit, consult a healthcare provider to explore other treatment options.

Tips for Preventing Golfer’s Elbow

  • Maintain proper form during activities.
  • Use equipment that suits your grip and swing style.
  • Take regular breaks to avoid overuse.

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit for Golfer’s Elbow

  • Pain Relief: TENS therapy is highly recommended as it provides non-invasive pain relief without the need for medication.
  • Reduced Inflammation: The electrical stimulation can help reduce inflammation around the affected area.
  • Enhanced Blood Circulation: TENS promotes blood flow, which aids in the healing process.
  • Muscle Relaxation: It helps relax tight muscles, reducing strain on tendons.
  • Convenience: TENS units are user-friendly and can be used at home or on the go, which is very convenient.

Choosing the Right TENS Unit

The purpose of selecting the right TENS unit is crucial for effective treatment. Consider factors like the device’s settings, electrode options, and portability. Consult a healthcare professional for recommendations tailored to your condition.

Preparation Before Application

Before applying the TENS unit, ensure your skin is clean and dry. Avoid applying it over irritated or broken skin. Read the device’s manual to avoid misuse and thoroughly understand its settings and safety guidelines.

How frequently should you utilize your TENS machine for tennis and golfer’s elbow?

Presently, there isn’t a universally recommended duration or frequency of treatment for tennis and golfer’s elbow. This will differ for each individual based on factors like the severity of the condition, symptoms, and how one responds to treatment. Generally, sessions lasting 15 to 30 minutes are typically effective in alleviating pain.

You can undergo these treatments more than once a day, but it’s essential to remain attentive to potential side effects like skin irritation or unusual sensations. Some studies indicate that a daily 45-minute treatment over 6 weeks yielded a noteworthy decrease in elbow pain. For more detailed information, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

Read also: How To Use TENS Unit For Sciatica


Using a TENS unit for a golfer’s elbow can be a game-changer in pain management and healing. By following the outlined steps and incorporating TENS therapy into your treatment plan, you can find relief and regain control over your daily activities. Remember to consult and get a piece of medical advice from your healthcare provider/ doctor, monitor your progress, and stay consistent with your TENS sessions.

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