TENS Unit FAQ: What TENS is, TENS vs EMS, TENS Benefits, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

This page contains ads and affiliate links. Product quality is determined by my own opinion, user reviews, comparison analysis, and sometimes product demos. This website does not provide medical advice. Talk with your doctor before trying any treatment or method.

In today’s video we’re going to be checking out TENS Units. TENS units are a low-cost non-habit forming, alternative pain-relieving method to treating all types of back pain. It can be helpful for Sciatica, muscle strains, disc hernias and swelling, trauma, sports injuries, and stiff necks. Before we get into it,

What is a TENS unit?

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. In other words, they are devices that stimulate nerves to reduce acute and chronic pain. 

Difference between TENS unit and Muscle Stimulation

Many confuse a TENS Unit with EMS or Electrical Muscle Stimulation. Simply put, TENS is used to relieve pain, while EMS is for muscle growth and training. They are both great therapeutic solutions, but again, TENS units are for pain relief, and EMS machines are for muscle rehabilitation after injury and athletic training.

If you’re on medication for nerve pain, a TENS unit is a better choice. If you want to target muscle pain, then an EMS unit would be better.

TENS diverts the pain sensation away from the brain. EMS sends a signal to your muscles to cause contractions for the purpose of building muscle and exercise. Many Units include both TENS and EMS. Whether or not you need both is based on your use of it.

How does a TENS unit work?

These stimulations may modulate or suppress pain signals to the brain. Basically, it stops your pain receptors from feeling the pain. TENS also releases endorphins, giving the user a better feeling in general.

Benefits of a TENS Unit

There are multiple reviews showing that:

  • it is useful for diabetic neuropathy
  • Decreases carpal tunnel pain
  • Decrease shoulder impingement pain
  • Effective in preventing migraines

And there is objective evidence showing that it can suppress pain signals. This is how we approach TENS. Notice that we are suppressing or diverting the pain, not eliminating it. 

Is a TENS unit safe?

TENS units are safe for most people. However, tolerance can be built in as much as five days of use, reducing its effectiveness. 

Those with heart conditions, pacemakers, infusion pumps, defibrillators, or similar devices shouldn’t be exposed to the electrical current from a TENS unit. People with skin allergies may react to the electrode pads negatively. Also, pregnant women shouldn’t use electrical stimulation for pain relief.

What to look for in TENS unit?

Now that we know what a TENS unit is and what it’s used for, what do we look for when finding one?

How much power?

The lower-priced TENS units tend to have low power. It should feel intense, but not painful. This will vary from person to person, so ensuring the unit you get is strong enough should be a high priority when selecting a TENS unit. Also, tolerance can be built, so you’ll likely want to have more power than you expect if you plan on using it often.

What type of battery does it use?

Using disposable batteries in a TENS unit can raise the price of use dramatically for the daily user. Many devices use a 9-volt battery. You’ll want to find a higher quality device that has a stronger lithium-ion battery. It can last longer between charges and will save you money on replacing batteries.

How many modes does it have?

The better TENS units will have a higher number of modes, or electronic pulses. Different modes work better for different kinds of pain. You’ll want to have as many options available to find out which mode is best for your specific pain. 

How durable are the pads?

We suggest the higher quality TENS units because the pads tend to last longer. The cheap TENS units’ pads tend to wear out much sooner, requiring replacement. The additional cost of replacing pads can make that cheap TENS unit quite expensive. 

It’s better to get quality from the start. Especially if you’ve never used a TENS unit before, look for quality customer service to help you get started if you have any questions or problems. 

We hope this helps clear up any confusion and answered any questions you may have had about TENS Units.

Our Favorite TENS Unit: iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Therapeutic Wearable System

This page contains ads and affiliate links. Product quality is determined by my own opinion, user reviews, comparison analysis, and sometimes product demos. This website does not provide medical advice. Talk with your doctor before trying any treatment or method.

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