The TENS electrode is an essential accessory for electrostimulation treatments. The impulse is transmitted from the device to the body through the electrode and produces the desired effect.
- TENS - nerve stimulation, pain relief treatments
- EMS - muscle stimulation, muscle treatments
- Microcurrent - pain relief, healing treatments
Main features of the TENS electrode
- connector (pin, snap, clip)
- usability (single or multiple use)
- shape (round, square, rectangular, oval, butterfly, etc)
- adhesive quality and
- pulse conductivity.
Choice of connector type
Look at the cable of your device for which you intend to use the electrode and buy an electrode with the right connector for the cable termination.
For home electrostimulators you will usually find a pin or patent connector. These are usually of a standard size, i.e. any electrode with a similar end is suitable. For the "serious" manufacturers, you can choose the electrode with the correct connection.
Some manufacturers (such as Omron) use non-standard connectors. Therefore only the electrode they sell is good, the standard one will not "fit". This is a marketing ploy. The customer only realises in the course of use that the device was cheap, but that it is more expensive overall when used regularly because of the higher price of the individual electrodes.
Some electrodes are manufactured with a surface that contains little adhesive, so that once they have been glued to the skin, they do not stick to the skin a second time. Such electrodes are best used for cosmetic applications, for the treatment of sensitive facial skin only.
For pain relief, muscle stimulation, cellulite treatment, relaxation and relaxation treatments, it is recommended to choose a reusable electrode, i.e. one that can be applied and removed several times. The higher price will ensure better pulse quality and longer adhesive life. The adhesive life will be increased if the electrode is stored in a refrigerator (not a freezer, but a normal refrigerator.
For those who use electrotherapy frequently, you should consider using rubber electrodes (electrically conductive carbon material mixed into a silicone sheet) or various textile-based electrodes (elastic straps, FastBand belt and FastPads). In these, metal fibres are "woven" into the fabric and this is how the impulse is transmitted to the skin. The use of contact gel is recommended for better conduction, but thorough irrigation is sufficient. The pulse transmission quality of these reusable electrodes is also that of the average self-adhesive electrode, i.e. they are excellent for general use, pain relief, muscle stimulation. However, I do not recommend them for specific conditions, for the treatment of nerve injury, or if you want to perform very precise muscle treatment. In such cases, I still recommend the use of adhesive bandages.
Choice of electrode size and shape
For muscle stimulation treatments
For muscle stimulation, there are two guidelines as to what size electrode to use. Some recommend using electrodes with as large a surface area as possible (the size that will fit on the body surface), others suggest using electrodes of different sizes to best concentrate the electrical impulses.
Those in favour of larger size argue that the larger the electrode, the easier it is to distribute the current in the muscles, the higher the comfort level, the higher the current intensity and the stronger the muscle contraction.
Advocates of different sizes believe that the smaller electrode should be placed on the muscle belly (most prominent part). With the smaller electrode, a higher current intensity is concentrated on the motor nerve plate (motor nerve), which is located directly in the centre of the muscle. It is also believed that it can reach much deeper parts of the muscle before reaching another electrode located nearby.
As above, we recommend trying both variations and you can decide which you feel is more effective based on your experience.
For pain relief (TENS and Microcurrent) treatments
For TENS and Microcurrent treatments, use electrodes with a diameter of 45-50mm.
For facial cosmetic treatments
For face and neck treatments, use small diameter electrodes (26-30mm), as the muscles are small and space is limited, so larger electrodes cannot be placed with a few cm of space between them.
Importance of conductivity
An electrical impulse will elicit the desired response in the body if it is of the right intensity (current). However, the higher the intensity, the more unpleasant the sensation can be. Above a certain current intensity, pain prevents the treatment from continuing.
If the electrode is weakly conductive, the device needs to be set to a high current to have an effect, but this will increase the pain. If, on the other hand, the pulse is not strong enough, the effect will be lost.
A better conductive electrode will deliver the right impulse at a lower current. This allows more effective treatment.
The conductivity of the electrode is also important for special treatments.
For example, to strengthen muscles after paralysis due to stroke or to regain muscle strength after surgery, it is recommended to use the best electrode possible to keep the current intensity lower.
I also recommend the same for athletes for treatments to improve specific muscular capacities (endurance, stamina, explosiveness, strength, capillarisation, aerobic metabolism, etc.)
It is also worth choosing the best electrode quality for post-operative rehabilitation treatments, as it allows lower current levels to be used, which is a significant advantage for the recovery of damaged nerves and muscles.
- Specially designed large-surface electrodes are available for the treatment of certain areas (abdomen-bottom-thigh)
- Incontinence can be treated with electrodes placed in the vagina or anus
- For iontophoresis, a sponge-covered carbon electrode is used