How to Use a TENS Machine for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is characterized by an inflammation of the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. This band, also known as the plantar fascia, stretches from your heel to right around the ball of your foot. When experiencing pain caused by this inflammation, it can be beneficial to use a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) machine for treatment.


Things You'll Need

  • TENS machine
  • Conductive gel

Instructions

  1. Determine the location for the electrodes and apply conductive gel to these locations. You'll be placing a set of four electrodes on the affected foot: one pair on the left and right sides of the heel and another pair near the arch of the foot. Since you're working with such a small area of the body, great care should be used when placing the electrodes.

  2. Verify that the TENS machine is turned off. Place the electrode pads, making sure they are placed at least one inch apart.

  3. Adjust the pulse of the TENS machine to the appropriate setting (most likely it will be around 50 Hz). Your doctor will need to establish the appropriate settings to ensure that you are receiving the correct rate of pulse.

  4. Select the mode in which the TENS machine will deliver the pulse. Most TENS machines can be set to deliver the pulse in a continual rate, which is a constant rate of stimulation, a sporadic rate, which is essentially bursts of stimulation, or a "combination" rate, which is mix of both constant and sporadic. For plantar fasciitis, you'll probably use a continual rate of delivery.

  5. Turn on the TENS machine. You should begin to feel a slight tingle in your foot, which will subside shortly as the area becomes acclimated to this setting. You may need to turn it up slightly after this.

  6. Let the TENS machine deliver the pulse to the foot, stimulating the muscles and treating the pain. Depending on your treatment plan, you'll leave the machine running for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. A health professional should be consulted to establish the correct length of time for your specific condition.

Tips & Warnings

  • The location of the electrodes will be determined by the site of the pain. With plantar fasciitis, the pain is usually located on the bottom of the foot, a few inches from the heel.


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