Living with chronic musculoskeletal pain is never easy as it can affect almost every aspect of one’s life, not to mention the expensive treatment methods. Thankfully, the best TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units can help relieve pain to a certain extent. TENS units are programmed with multiple intensity settings and massage pads to help alleviate pain by relaxing your nerves. Before we explore some of the most effective, tried-and-tested TENS units available out there, let’s understand how these devices function.
How Do TENS Units Work?
TENS is a physical therapy that uses mild electric impulses to relieve pain and relax muscles. A TENS unit works as a non-invasive pain relief machine that sends mild electrical currents to the nerves through a network of electrodes attached to the skin. These electric impulses stimulate the nerve endings around the affected area while releasing a healthy dose of endorphins to block the pain signals from sending it to the brain.
Some benefits of TENS therapy include improving blood circulation, relieving stress, strengthening the muscles, and alleviating injury-related pain. It is especially suited to those with musculoskeletal conditions such as sciatica, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and tendonitis (1) (2) (3).
13 Best TENS Units
This dual-channel device by Tens 7000 might be the most efficient TENS unit you can bring home as it offers instant pain relief. It comes with many cool features, such as four working pads and five custom stimulation modes, and allows you to adjust the intensity level from zero to 100 mA based on your needs and set the pulse rate. Besides, you can carry the electrotherapy unit anywhere you go since it is battery-powered and compact. Explore the tester’s experience in this video to understand how this product works.
Also Recommended By: The Good Body has also listed TENS 7000 EMS Unit in their top 10. Best TENS Unit 2023 [Tested, Reviewed & Rated]. The Good Body https://www.thegoodbody.com/what-is-the-best-tens-unit/
- TENS unit for neck pain, back pain, and more
- Includes multiple TENS unit accessories
- Safe and easy to control
- Suitable for everyday use
- Battery might not last long
If you’re looking for the best TENS therapy devices for back pain and muscle relaxation, this one is a worthy candidate. It comes with 24 massage modes with 20 intensity levels and dual channels, not to mention a super-convenient timer. The slim and compact design makes it a breeze to carry around anywhere, while the powerful battery gives you a good twenty hours of usage time. Watch the detailed review video of this tried-and-tested product to learn more.
Also Recommended By: Money has also listed Belifu TENS EMS Unit in their top 10. The Best TENS Machines for Your Money. Money https://money.com/best-tens-machine/
- Comes with a dust-proof bag
- Has a charging reminder
- Provides instant relief
- Easy to personalize
- Might not be as user-friendly as you would want it to be
The Auvon 4 Muscle Stimulator for pain relief is designed for drug-free relief of body muscle pain. It helps stimulate sensory nerves and muscles for natural pain gate mechanism activation. With eight 20M electrodes fit into the pads, it can be used on different body parts, including the neck, waist, shoulder, and knee. If you are interested in a TENS unit for neck pain, this one with positive reviews is suitable for that too.
- Rechargeable EMS machine with 2x battery life
- Easy to operate with button design
- Easy to charge
- Easy to store in a dust-proof bag
- May not have a constant pulse monitoring option
- May take time to restart
Relieve muscle pain with Omron’s versatile and extremely powerful TENS unit. It offers 15 levels of intensity, six different pain modes, three massage modes, and an easy-to-read screen for accessibility, making it ideal for those struggling with recurring shoulder, knee, or lower back pain. The highly customizable device works on pain associated with different conditions and is versatile enough to be used at home or while traveling.
- Soft, comfortable pads
- Easy operation
- Compact design
- Highly adhesive
- Belt clip might not be durable
Combining two therapies in one power-packed unit, this device provides you with effective pain relief. With independent dual channels, 20 intensity levels, and 24 modes that have been pre-programmed, the unit offers you so many ways to personalize the physical therapy. You can also program it as per the suggestion given by a physiotherapist. Moreover, you can undertake treatment for two different areas of the body simultaneously, and the nerve stimulation device works for ten hours on a single charge.
- Medical-grade electrodes
- Highly adhesive and conductive
- Includes 12 pads
- Safe and durable
- May not be very intuitive
The Nursal Muscle Stimulator is designed with a TENS unit for back pain, muscle relaxation, ease, and pain in other areas to assist with continuous stimulation. It is an electronic, rechargeable pulse massager with eight pads and provides extensive stimulation. It uses Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation technology for pain relief, which has proven useful in safe and effective pain relief. The electrode pads are reusable and come with two outputs for effective relief for a long duration. However, the device is not pregnancy-safe.
- Operates in 24 TENS + EMS modes
- Useful in back and shoulder pain relief
- Restarts with memory function
- Adjustable 20 levels of intensity
- Screen-lock function available
- Easy to carry and use
- Electrode pads may be pretty small
- Advanced intensity levels may not be designed for all
Available in white and weighing 0.49lb, this small and portable TENS unit is easy to use. It provides a well-simulated massage and heat therapy to relieve tense arm, foot, leg, lower back, shoulder, or even arthritis pain. It provides effective drug-free relief. As per reviews, its combination therapy works suitably in relieving acute and chronic pains and is safe for use on muscles after working out.
- Dedicated stimulation buttons for arms, legs, etc.
- Highly customizable with 20 intensity levels
- Unique gel pads for warmth on the spot
- Reusable up to 30 times
- Sleek and compact design with a digital screen
- Gel pads can be pretty sticky
- Settings are unchangeable until complete power down
Here’s a tried-and-tested TENS device with a backlit display for your absolute convenience, even during nighttime. It helps relieve pain through its five TENS modes, three EMS modes, 24 preset programs, and four channels. The rechargeable unit has a metal belt clip for easy portability and a non-slip bar to keep it safe and sound. Each of the quality electrode pads is designed with a carbon fiber wire and super-soft fabric to make sure you are comfortable throughout the massage.
- Adjustable pulse rate and pulse width
- Customizable intensity
- Easy to operate at night as well
- Charges quickly
- Battery life might not be impressive
Manage your pain as efficiently as possible with this dual-channel device by Neocarbon that allows you to massage different areas at the same time and at different intensities. The unit is designed to relieve menstrual cramps, post-workout stress, and aging-related pain and comes with 24 modes, 16 electrode pads, and an easy-to-read screen. Each pad can be used up to 50 times, and the battery lasts up to ten hours after each charge.
- Independent channel intensity
- Comes with a premium case
- Highly durable and portable
- Charges in three hours
- Adhesive on the pads might not hold for long
10. Best Portable: Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMF Unit Muscle Stimulator
The Belifu Muscle Stimulator for pain relief therapy has a dual-channel design and works on the TENS technology for effective muscle pain relief. The electronic pulse massager effectively relieves pain like sore muscles, after exercise, from household work, etc. It can easily address multiple body locations for easy relief, like the arms, legs, neck, back, and shoulder. This portable TENS unit can also improve muscle performance through healthy muscle stimulation.
- Operates in 24 pre-programmed modes
- Non-invasive, non-drug relief
- Has dust-proof drawstring storage for easy carry
- 20 levels of intensity
- Timer control
- Long-lasting battery use
- Some may find it difficult to use
- Pad gels may wear out quickly
11. Best Battery-Powered:Easy@Home TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator
The Tens muscle stimulator by Easy@Home can help you relieve and manage your back pain, knee pain, muscle soreness, and stiffness. This unit for back pain relief has an LCD display with a user-friendly design and features three modes – massage, beat, or knead – for your convenience. It is an automatic machine with six auto procedure options, ten intensity levels, and an adjustable pulse stimulation option, enabling you to adjust it as per your needs. With its independent dual channels, you can simultaneously use this electric pulse massager on two body parts.
- Compact design
- Portable TENS unit
- Easy to use
- Includes batteries and electrodes
- Adhesive on the TENS unit electrodes may not last long
- Auto-shut off timer may be bothersome
12. Best For Chronic Pain: iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle Stimulator
The pain relief device from iReliev is designed as a combination unit muscle stimulator with TENS and EMS technology to relieve pain and boost muscle strength. It is pretty effective for chronic arthritis pain and relieves tired, sore muscles of the neck, shoulder, arms, legs, abs, and back. Its low voltage pulses stimulate nerve fiber effectively for pain messenger blocking. With many positive reviews, it can be of great assistance as a post-exercise recovery and strength training tool.
- Non-invasive, drug-free, and safe pain relief
- 14 therapy modes of operation
- 25 intensity levels of 80mA
- Adjustable timer between five and 60 minutes
- Screen lock available
- Versatile and portable pain relief device
- Might be difficult to control
- Adhesion may go weak over extended use
13. Best Convenient: TEC.Bean Tens Unit For Pain Management And Rehabilitation
The TENS Muscle Stimulation unit from TEC.Bean works great for pain management and rehabilitation of the muscles. This portable TENS unit can be used for the whole body and is rechargeable, with a silver outer body. It can help relieve chronic pain, spasms, and other muscle tension. This tested device can be switched between one and two constant steady pulse modes for stable distribution. It is easy to use and comes with simplistic instructions.
- Drug-free, non-invasive relief
- 24 pre-programmed massage modes
- 20 different intensity levels
- Timer and loc controls
- Up to 30 hours of use on a single full charge
- Up to 45 uses of self-stick electrode pads
- Intensity of pads might reduce with extended use
- Pad gels can be quite sticky
How To Choose The Right TENS Unit?
Consider these important factors before investing in a TENS unit.
Function: It’s crucial to ask yourself why you need this device. You might be struggling with specific pain-related issues such as arthritis, sciatica, or menstrual cramps, or you might just be looking for a convenient means of releasing stress at the end of a long day. If you want to focus the stimulation on several areas of the body, opt for a portable, physician-recommended TENS unit that features two or more channels.
Wired or wireless: Determine whether you want a wired or wireless unit. The advantage of picking the best wireless TENS unit is that you can take the unit anywhere and continue with the treatment seamlessly. This means you will also have to think about the size of the unit and ensure it is portable and discreet.
Features: While most TENS devices come with multiple intensity levels meant for pain relief, like – TENS units for neck pain and back pain, long-lasting rechargeable battery, and numerous electric pads, you should look out for specific features to manage the pain. Some units have touchscreen displays as well as body trackers to monitor the level of pain, so you can personalize the settings and create an ideal flow of electrical impulses.
Why Trust MomJunction?
Vibha Navarathna is a seasoned writer and researcher who enjoys writing product reviews for a variety of segments. The TENS units for neck pain, back pain, and other muscle aches highlighted in this article have been carefully chosen by her after doing hours of extensive research into their performance and considering reviewers’ experiences on various e-commerce sites. Vibha has added a brief description of each product and highlighted its pros and cons to let you make an informed choice. Further. She has also added a handy buying guide and answered some commonly asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often can I use a TENS unit?
The best part about a TENS unit is that you can use the device frequently and independently without the need of a masseuse. It’s safe to give yourself a massage as often as four times a day.
2. How long can I use a TENS unit at a time?
You can use a TENS unit for at least 30-60 minutes at a time, or even longer if necessary.
3. Where or when is it not okay to use a TENS unit?
Avoid using a TENS unit on the abdomen, lower back, and pelvic areas. Also keep it away from your face, hands, knees, and ankles. You should not use the device if you have an open wound or inflammation around the stressed area. Also, speak to your healthcare professional before using a TENS unit if you have cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, or are pregnant (3).
4. Where on my body can I use TENS?
TENS is primarily used to manage pain in the back, neck, and spine. However, you can also use it for relieving any type of musculoskeletal pain.
5. What are the side effects of using a TENS unit?
If the current is high or the device is placed on the wrong part of the body, it may burn the skin. It is not pregnancy-safe and should not be used by people with pacemakers and implanted devices (4).
6. What’s the difference between TENS and EMS?
While EMS or electrical muscle stimulation is used to strengthen the muscles, typically as a form of rehabilitation, TENS units are all about relieving pain. You should ideally choose a physician-recommended TENS unit that also features EMS modes.
7. Can a TENS unit damage the nerves?
No, a TENS unit can be safely used for chronic pain management and to relieve acute pain. It also helps minimize the pain associated with diabetes-related Neurotherapy (5).
Now that you know all about the best TENS units out there, you can choose the right one to manage chronic muscle pain and feel more relaxed all day. These devices come with various functions and settings to help you personalize the therapy. These TENS units for neck pain, sciatica, arthritis, joint pain can be super helpful. The options listed here are a great place to start your TENS treatment journey and enjoy a truly therapeutic massage. However, consult a certified physician before using a TENS unit.
Infographic: Safety Measures To Follow While Using A TENS Unit For Pain Relief
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units provide pain relief by delivering low-voltage electrical current through electrodes placed on the skin. Although TENS units are generally safe, there are a few precautions you should take when using one. Please refer to the following infographic for a list of safety measures and share it with others.
MomJunction’s articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: Mechanisms Clinical Application and Evidence; National Library of Medicine
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation); NHS
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS); The University of Iowa.
- TENS Therapy
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
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