TENS pad placement for lumbago and sciatica
What are the causes of sciatica?
There are multiple triggers for sciatica. The most common cause for sciatica pain is tension of the gluteal muscles. It often occurs to people, who have a sedentary lifestyle. The sciatic nerve is under pressure and emits pain signals. False movement could also lead to sciatic pain, it even can cause a slipped disc. This occurs, if the sciatic nerve is pinched.
Where does sciatic hurt exactly?
If you feel sciatic pain, it is called sciatica. It is pain in the legs, which comes from the sciatic nerve. It starts from the buttocks to the feet. Sometimes the lower back and the area of the lumbar spine is also affected.
What is the difference between sciatica and cruralgia?
In sciatica, the sciatic nerve is affected, which runs in the area of the back of the thigh and the buttocks. In the area of the front thigh, the crural nerve runs, which, like the sciatic nerve, extends into the area of the lower back. The causes of both cruralgia and sciatica are usually the crushing or irritation of the nerve pathway, which can be triggered by a herniated disc or a deformation of the spine, for example. If you feel pain in the lower back that extends into the front of the thigh, this may be cruralgia.
To cure sciatica or cruralgia, the cause must be treated. Therefore, you should first consult a doctor who can make a diagnosis. The pain that triggers sciatica or cruralgia is often treated with painkillers. For this, a TENS machine is an ideal alternative, as medication often has many side effects and can harm the body in the long term.
What are the causes for lumbago?
Lumbago occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched. This happens through vertebral bodies or tense and cramped muscles and occurs suddenly. It can lead to numbness and paralysis. Sometimes the pain is only felt hours or days later. Further causes could be psychological problems, lifting heavy loads or weak back musculature.
TENS therapy against lumbago and sciatica
With TENS therapy the blood flow can be improved  and therefore also an improved oxygen and nutrient supply. In consequence of that, a fast pain relief could happen. It is also possible to use a TENS machine for prevention of pain. It is also recommendable in painless periods. If the pain is chronic, the impulses of the stimulation current device can block the transmission of the pain signals to the brain and because of that, no pain is felt. The release of endogenous endorphins is also supported , which has an analgesic effect. The benefits of a TENS machine take place in several respects.
Does heat therapy have an impact for treatment of sciatica and lumbago?
Heat can help you to relax the muscles and offers pain relief in most cases. In this sense we recommend a moor heat pack or a hot bath. In both cases, lumbago and sciatica, you should bed-rest. Instead, slight movement and exercises are a good option. You can additionally use an EMS machine.
TENS units and electrodes recommendations
How a TENS machine help you with sciatica and lumbago
Pain in the area of the lower back is mostly an torture for the affected people. There are several causes for these types of pain, for example sciatica or lumbago.
A lumbago is an intense pain in the area of the lower back, which occurs suddenly. If the vertebral joints, muscles and nerves don’t work together correctly anymore, it can cause a lumbago. More than half of the adults in the United Kingdom will experience a lumbago at some point in their life. The treatment of a lumbago normally is conservative, for example with a TENS machine for pain relief.
Sciatica is the medical term for damage of the sciatic nerve which can also radiate into the legs. You can treat pain in the buttocks and lumbar spine caused by sciatica with TENS pain therapy. The regular application of stimulation current can help you relax the muscles, reduce the intensity of the pain  or relieve the pain .
The correct electrode pad placement for lumbago
To relieve pain of sciatica or lumbago, suitable electrode pads are essential. The electrode pads should stick very well and have low resistance. The electrical impulses will efficiently conduct through the electrode pads to the nerves of the lower back.
The big electrode pad for the back 20 x 12 cm is the right choice for TENS therapy of the lower back, because it covers a large area and stimulates it efficiently. The application is very easy. The back pad provides relaxation of the muscles and improvement of the pain situation. For the application you need a TENS machine with two channels.
The current strength should be set so that it is felt as a pleasant tingling sensation. The duration of the application should be approximately 40 minutes in order to be able to achieve a lasting reduction in pain. It is also useful to change the programs every now and then.
TENS units and electrodes recommendations
Video instruction for the treatment of sciatica with TENS
Train your muscles to prevent pain
After the TENS treatment, you can loosen the muscles with the EMS programs P29 or P30 to release tension. Adjust the intensity so that you feel slight muscle twitches. You can use the relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes.
With EMS, you can train the muscles in addition to pain therapy to strengthen the back and prevent future discomfort. Especially if you do a lot of activities in a sitting position, such as office work, the back muscles are often not sufficiently trained. EMS training with an EMS machine has a preventive effect on the development of complaints. With the EMS program P17 you can optimally build up your muscles. Choose an intensity just below the pain threshold for the best effect. You should feel clear contractions. The application should not last longer than 4 minutes at the beginning, with a little practice you can increase to 6 minutes. Afterwards, you can loosen the muscles again with P29 and P30 to avoid muscle soreness.
The optimal TENS machine for your application - recommendation of the programs
For TENS EMS machines from axion, we recommend the following programs for pain therapy
TENS EMS Combo Machine STIM-PRO X9
The programs P01 and P09 are generally used here.
To the device: TENS EMS Combo Machine STIM-PRO X9
TENS Machine STIM-PRO T-400
The programs P01 and P09 are generally used here.
To the device: TENS machine STIM-PRO T-400
TENS Machine STIM-PRO COMFORT
The program P07 is generally used here.
To the device: TENS machine STIM-PRO COMFORT
The correct electrode pad placement for sciatica
To stimulate the sciatic nerve and the affected area efficiently, we recommend our 5x5 cm electrode pads. You can use it for many different applications. Alternatively, you can also use the big electrode pad for the back, like for lumbago.
For the legs we recommend you to use our big 12x7 cm electrodes, which are suitable for large area apllications. For the pad placement, as shown in the picture, you need a TENS machine with at least 3 channels, like the 4 channel TENS EMS machine STIM-PRO X9.
Combination of TENS and heat therapy
You can enhance the effect of your TENS treatment against lumbago or sciatica with heat therapy. Heat therapy promotes blood circulation and loosens the muscles. The use of heat is particularly suitable for muscular tension.
Moor heat pack: Due to the filling of natural moor, these heat pads can store the heat longer and release it more evenly than other heat pads, e.g. cherry pit pads.
Hot water bottle: The hot water bottle is a classic in heat therapy that stands out due to its easy application. You only have to fill in warm water. The hot water bottles are also available with a variety of different covers.
Which exercises can you help with sciatic pain?
Relief is often achieved by ointment or special exercises. A TENS machine with suitable electrode pads for the lower back area can help you with the treatment. If the worst pain is over, a manual therapy or physiotherapy can also help.
- Lay on your back and bend your right leg. Grab the outside of your right knee with your left hand, slightly pull it towards the left side. Stretch your right hand to the right side and also your gaze, if possible. Hold that position for about a minute and switch sides after that.
- Lay flat on your back, bend your legs and slowly circuit. Note that your lumbar spine stays on the ground. This exercise is suited for relaxation.
- The step bed storage is also often recommended for relaxation by patients. You lay on the back and put your lower legs on a chair or on the couch at a 90 degree angle.
Light walking is also helpful against lumbago and sciatica.
What our customers say
The TENS world of axion
Studies and scientific sources
 Marchand, S., Charest, J., Li, J., Chenard, J.-R., Lavignolle, B. & Laurencelle, L. (1993). Is TENS purely a placebo effect? A controlled study on chronic low back pain. Pain, 54(1), 99–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-3959(93)90104-w
 Bachmann, J. & Pothmann, R. (2010). TENS. Transkutane elektrische Nervenstimulation in der Schmerztherapie (4. Aufl.). Karl F. Haug Verlag.
 Cramp, Gilsenan, Lowe & Walsh. (2000). The effect of high- and low-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation upon cutaneous blood flow and skin temperature in healthy subjects. Clinical Physiology, 20(2), 150–157. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2281.2000.00240.x
 Ortu, E., Pietropaoli, D., Mazzei, G., Cattaneo, R., Giannoni, M., & Monaco, A. (2015). TENS effects on salivary stress markers: A pilot study. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 114–118. https://doi.org/10.1177/0394632015572072