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TENS for sciatic pain?

vermithraxvvermithrax Posts: 21
Has anyone tried a TENS unit for sciatic pain?

My Doc mentioned it the other day, but didn't really elaborate. Where do you get one, what brand and how much are they?

Do they work?


  • As far as I am concerned, one has sciatic pain because something is causing the nerve to be compressed. It makes sense to try to determine what is causing the sciatic pain, and then doing what is possible to help the nerve decompress. This might be physical therapy, steroid injections that help any inflammation that might be present around the nerve root to subside, McKenzie exercises, etc.

    Often TENS units are purchased through a physical therapist, and, in this situation, it is sometimes covered by insurance. There are available online as well...and they come at all price points.

    I personally found that it made my nerve pain worse. However, I know that a number of people on the board have had good results with them. I guess you won't know until you try one.

    Are you currently going to physical therapy?
  • if you are in the uk you can get one on a 30 day try out but if you are outside the uk i have asked the staff at acticare for a longer test period and they agreed .just mention spine health .the acticare is a very high quality device it comes with 4 rechargeable batteries and desk charger a set of high quality leads and a high quality carry case .it also has 3 other modes on it that act like a spinal cord stimulator.it also has 2 high frequency modes {most other TENS don't have HF and RF} YES its a bit pricey but its worth the money .see acticare website for more info .i have used all makes including omron {also good } but i have stayed with acticare as i have found it to be the best .as with ALL TENS they don't work well on sciatic pain but they are very good on lower back ache
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  • I have used TENS for my sciatica. Rather than wear all 4 electrodes on the back I only put 2 on my back and the other two down my leg (one near the knee) and the other at the side of my ankle. Those two spots are where I have the most sciatic pain. I find it helps
  • hello

    ive used tens machines for a couple of years for the back pain from a herniated disc, i still use it now. I was only talking to my physio about sciatica/neuropathy, and he said it will not work for that.

    I have tried it hoping it'll relieve the nerve sensations, but it never works, jusr for the low back pain.

    L5/s1 discectomy & decompression 2009
    ALIF l5/s1 2011
    Awaiting X-ray & consultant to see if fused, but experiencing a lot of pain again :( 2013
  • the TENS unit works okay for my sciatica. as i said, i put the electrodes on my leg along the pathway of the S1 nerve, and the shocking sensations of the TENS makes me forget the pain in my leg. Sure I get some pretty prickly feelings from the TENS but I prefer that to the sciatica. :)
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  • etesian07eetesian07 Posts: 2
    edited 12/27/2012 - 8:56 AM
    What you've stated is all true-often, your PT, with a precisely worded RX from your doctor will allow you a TENS unit loan, and possibly, you will be able to keep it. A lot of things must be true (at least for my insurance)-chronic pain for at least 3 months (double check), pain that has not responded to anything else (it's helpful if your doc is good enough to list these things). Unicorns are nice, too- Hopefully, you have good insurance.
    I will try to stay on point. It's possible the TENS unit has improved greatly since the start of this thread. It works during and after you put the electrodes on the part of your body which is most painful. You control the pulse, so it's comfortable. It releases endorphins, so possibly has some anti-depressant quality as well. I highly recommend the TENS unit. It's worth a go, anyway.
    Good luck.
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,314
    edited 12/27/2012 - 11:36 AM
    i have still got the acticare but sadly they are not selling the unit anymore due to financial reasons .but you could purchase a touch tens around $30 at max ..i bought on here in the uk from amazon and it came in 2 days .you can use any TENS for leg pain sciatica.either place an electrode either side of your spine at L5 approx.and have the tens on the throb..throb..mode {sometimes know as burst mode} if that doesn't work try this .one electrode just to the side of your spine of which leg hurts so if its the right leg ...just to the right of the spine .then the other electrode on the upside of your ankle near the bit that sicks out .{on the inside of your foot} you may have to play around with the electrode to get max effect .and set on the tap/tap.tap.mode or the throb ...throb....throb mode ..the tap mode is more like acupuncture and not very nice on the skin ,i always use the throb mode//on the acticare its mode 3 on
    on the I touch TENS machine {$30) from amazon its {C }.well worth a go .i use my unit every day .if you can get hold of an acticare then do as they are the very best and well made {NHS hospital approved }.its a nasty pain is sciatica and i wish you the best in reliving it ..if you are buying yourself a TENS then buy one with pig tales replacement electrodes they are easy to get and when buying replacement electrodes get the TYCO hypoallergenic in blue they are the best i have bought hundreds of replacement electrodes and the TYCO are the best and only available in one shop in the uk the usa will have them as they are made there/..don't spend a fortune on a TENS but don't economise too much NEVER buy cheap electrodes ..you may as well throw your money away .i would say $50 max on a normal TENS an acticare pay $200 less tax {in uk}{vat}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I have just had my first dose of sciatic pain. I went to the GP because I didn't know what it was. VERY PAINFUL. Painkillers did not seem to work so I tried a TENS machine, it worked extremely well and I am pleased I bought it. The sciatic pain was gone in 12 days. I am not medical in any way, all I can say is that a TENS machine worked for me
  • I would like to add that my GP actually prescribed a TENS machine for neuropathic pain caused by diabetes in my left leg. The TENS machine actually worked really well but of course I had to give the machine back in two weeks because it belonged to the NHS. I live in north wales UK.
  • your doctor can give you a prescription or order one for you. It is usually paid for by insurance.
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