TENS Unit Pads – What You Need to Know

When purchasing a TENS unit, you will see that it includes a number of tens unit pads, or “electrodes”. The number of electrodes, as well as their shape and size, varies according to the unit you buy. Some manufacturers choose a standard size and shape of electrode, which share a common connection meaning the pads are interchangeable between units. Other manufacturers have opted for more specialist tens unit pads with the intention of improving the pain-relieving effect of their device.
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No matter which TENS unit you choose to buy, the tens pads are to be considered disposable and must be replaced from time to time. This article is designed to help you understand more about the electrodes, how to use them and how to recognize when they need to be changed. Using the electrodes effectively is key to receiving consistent pain relief from your unit.

What are tens unit pads and how can I use them?

Tens pads are the self-adhesive electrodes that connect your TENS unit to the areas of your body that are experiencing pain.   The amount of pads provided varies between TENS units: your unit will usually have between 2 and 8 pads for you to apply. Older electrodes used to need a conductive gel for your TENS unit to work effectively but the new self-adhesive variety, which you will find with all modern TENS units, do not need any additional material to give you relief from pain.TENS Electrodes - replacement tens unit pads

To experience pain relief from your TENS unit, place the electrodes either side of or around the area experiencing pain, and activate the unit according to the unit’s instructions or the advice of your doctor. The tens unit electrodes should be placed between ½ and 1 ½ inches apart for the best possible effect. When your intended treatment time is complete, simply peel the electrodes away from your skin, taking care not to pull them by the wire, which can damage the electrodes by breaking the electrical connection.

The pads work best when applied to clean, dry skin and are expected to continue working for hundreds of applications, however, under certain conditions this may be less. There are also actions you can take to extend the life of your electrodes, which are explained below.

How will I know when to change my tens unit pads?

replacement tens unit pads tens electrodes
To put it simply, you will know it is time to change your tens pads when they no longer stick to your skin. The amount of time this actually takes will vary according to how often and how long you use your TENS unit and on the conditions in which it is used.

It is recommended that you clean your skin with soap and water and dry it thoroughly before using your TENS unit. Note that if your electrodes get wet, either because of sweat or other damp conditions, then the adhesive properties of your tens unit pads will be lost and they must be replaced. Allowing your skin to dry thoroughly before applying the electrodes will help extend their useable life.

The price of tens electrodes can vary considerably depending on the manufacturer and even the model of the TENS unit you own.


The length of time you use the unit at any one time will also affect how long your electrodes will last. If you use your TENS unit for longer periods of time, such as two hours or more, then an effective solution is to rotate between two sets of tens unit electrodes, allowing each set to thoroughly dry out before its next use.

Another factor to consider is body hair, which can reduce the lifespan of your electrodes considerably by affecting the adhesive qualities of the pads. It is recommended that you shave areas of hairy skin before applying the electrodes if you wish to prolong the lifespan of your pads.

Where Can I Buy Tens Unit Pads?

Tens unit pads are available online via sites such as tens.net, who provide access to a comprehensive collection of high quality TENS units as well as offering full specifications and independent reviews of a number of units from different manufacturers. As every TENS unit will require replacement pads at intervals, the electrodes are usually available from any outlet selling the units themselves.

How Much Do They Cost?

The price of tens unit electrodes can vary considerably depending on the manufacturer and even the model of the TENS unit you own. Important to consider when purchasing your unit is not only the cost, however, but also the number of electrodes it uses and whether they are of a standard size and use a standard connector, which makes them more affordable to replace. The most commonly used connection is a 2mm plug, which attaches to the female (or universal) connector. Your supplier should be able to advise you if you are unsure.

What Else Do I Need to Know?tens unit pads tens electrodes

Further information about your TENS unit is available from reliable sources such as tens.net and any use of your unit should be under supervision of a doctor or other health professional. Correct placement of your tens unit electrodes is not complicated and should come quite easily with practice. Further advice regarding their placement should be provided with your unit. If you suffer from chronic pain and use the unit for long periods of time, remember that removing your electrodes is essential for at least one period of each day.

No matter how carefully you use them, it is important to remember that your pads will need replacing at intervals, but taking a little care with application can extend their lifetime so that you have to replace them less often. If you have any further questions or concerns about the use of your tens unit pads, then check them out at the Amazon store, where they have replacement tens electrodes and tens unit pads for a wide range of brands and different tens machines.

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