Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Units


The WSIB may authorize the purchase of a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit for a worker who suffers from disabling pain when it results from a work-related injury/disease.



Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is the application of mild electrical stimulation to skin electrodes placed over a painful area.

TENS units

A worker's attending health professional must prescribe a TENS unit relative to the work-related disability/impairment. The WSIB reviews and approves the use of a TENS unit.

Test period

Each worker must undergo a test period of TENS therapy, supervised by a qualified individual, before the WSIB authorizes the purchase of a TENS unit.

To qualify for a test period, it must be shown that

  • the worker has long standing disabling pain
  • the condition has stabilized, and
  • any further investigation or intervention which may significantly change the symptoms is not being contemplated.

If the initial test period did not warrant allowance of a TENS unit and the worker's condition significantly changes, a worker may be scheduled for re-testing. The WSIB reviews the results of the re-testing to determine entitlement.

Criteria for purchase

The WSIB must be satisfied that the worker will have

  • pain reduction longer than three hours
  • a reduction or discontinuance of the intake of medication, and/or
  • an improvement in sleeping, and/or
  • an improvement in general activity.

The WSIB must authorize the purchase of a TENS unit in advance of its purchase by the worker. Unless there are unusual circumstances, purchase is made on a once only basis.

The WSIB authorizes the purchase of operational supplies for the TENS unit.


Prior to replacement of a TENS unit, the worker must be re-tested to ensure that the response to the TENS unit is still favourable.


Under unusual circumstances, the WSIB may allow rental of a TENS unit.


The WSIB retains ownership of TENS units and recovers them from injured workers when they are no longer required.

Application date

This policy applies to all decisions made on or after November 3, 2008, for all accidents.

Document History

This document replaces 17-01-06 dated October 12, 2004.

This document was previously published as:
06-03-03 dated August 9, 1991.


Legislative Authority

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 32, 33

Workers' Compensation Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended
Sections 50, 52


#8, October 15, 2008, Page 465