While selecting a TENS machine or unit you must be familiar with all the variations that are available on the market and how you will be able to pick the one that is right for your use. In order to make up your mind, clearly, you should be aware of following features, that you should see while selecting a TENS machine.
The type: First, you should be aware of the different options you have on the market. Either you need a combo or a basic TENS unit.
The settings option: The second thing you need to know is to determine what level of features you need. Either, you need an advanced level TENS or a simple one and what features you’ll need to customize the electrical impulse to help you manage pain. Like the pulse rate, pulse width and amplitude. The more you can customize the three settings the better it would be. Like
Pulse rate: The usual pulse rate value of commonly used TENS gadgets ranges from 1-250 Hz or PPS or pulse per second. It is the number of electrical impulses that a TENS gadget can generate in one second.
Pulse width: Another important feature is the pulse width that you can get. It also ranges from 1- 250 microseconds.
Amplitude: This is the intensity with which the impulses are generated and it ranges from 0-100mA. You can also determines the intensity through the controls provided.
Modes: There are various modes that are available to function in these units. These could be:
- Continuous mode: When electrical impulses are delivered continually without any considerable interval or break.
- Pulse mode: You may also have an option to set up pulse mode to deliver electrical pulse at a regular interval.
- Burst mode: There is also a burst mode that is there in some TENS units that enable a person to experience high frequency impulses at a given level.
Channels: Another important feature you should know is the channels that are used to transmit the electrical impulse. Most common TENS units have two channel electrodes while others also come along 4 channel electrodes. Each pair of electrodes can be activated through separate controls.
Quick Content Navigation
- Top 10 Best TENS Units Comparison
- Tens Handheld Electronic Pulse Unit
- truMedic TM-1000PRO Tens Unit
- Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator
- AccuMed AP112 Portable TENS Unit
- Zewa Spabuddy Tens Therapy
- FDA passed Healthmate TENS unit
- iReliev TENS Massager Unit
- AccuRelief TENS Electrotherapy
- Therapeutix TENS Unit Massager
- Easy@Home TENS Unit
- TENS Units Buying Guide
- What is a TENS Unit?
- Why Use a TENS Unit?
- Can everyone use a TENS unit? Who should not?
- What are the health benefits of a TENS machine
- Types of TENS machines available
- How it works to relieve pain?
- Are there any health hazards of using a TENS unit?
- Best practices to use TENS unit
- For how long a TENS unit should be used?
- How to maintain your TENS machine
- Cautions while using a TENS machine
- How to buy and where to buy?
Top 10 Best TENS Units Comparison
*Results Are Based On Amazon.com TENS Units Consumer Reports & Reviews*
Tens Handheld Electronic Pulse UnitThe Tens Handheld Electronic pulse massager is one of the best massaging units available on the market. Backed with a doctor’s recommendation, this massaging unit is ideal for dealing with muscle soreness, stress, stiffness and chronic pain. It is a simple yet advanced unit with six modes of stimulation programs along with fully adjustable speed, frequency and intensity settings. An LCD screen displays the chosen massage type, intensity and time remaining for the massage. It has a dual channel system so that it can be used on two different massage points at one time. This massaging unit comes with 4 different attachment pads and three different massage styles to choose from. It requires a DC source of 6 Volts but can be used with 4 AAA batteries as well. It is a lightweight and handy device so you can easily carry it along your travels. Approved by FDA this massaging unit has a user-friendly design and is very easy to operate and program. This handheld massaging unit is ideal for people with frequent muscle problems and those who go to gym regularly. It can be used on all parts of the body and comes with a 1-year warranty as well.
truMedic TM-1000PRO Tens UnitThe truMedic Tens Unit is a high-tech pain relief device that works methodically on targeted pain points and provides quick relief to pain, muscle soreness and stress. It is a dual channel device and comes with independent control settings for left and right sides. The device can be easily used by two people at a time and the timer runs for two hours at a go without having to reset or change the setting during any point of the session. Tens therapy is well known for providing relief to the muscular and joint pains and this device comes with 20 power settings ranging from mild to powerful which gives users a lot of diversity. The Back-Lit LCD screen displays clear settings of the chosen massage program and the control panel is also well-labeled and easy to use. This pain relief unit operates at a DC source of 3.7V and comes with re-chargeable li-ion batteries so you never have to worry about buying new batteries. A USB port is also available which adds to its portability and makes it a great travel partner. There are a variety of pads available in different sizes so that this device can be used on all parts of the body and pain can be managed through a well-known tens therapy system.
Tens Unit Muscle StimulatorTens Unit Muscle Stimulator is a professionally designed machine to provide for pain management and provides great relief and repair to damaged back muscles. It comes with a set of electrodes, lead wires, battery, instructions manual and a carrying case. The device offers 5 distinct modes of operation and a clear LCD screen displays the operating mode, time elapsed and battery remaining information. It can record up to 900 hours of sessions and automatically keeps a time track of each session. It is a simple to use, handy device which can be easily carried around and used on various parts of the body. The 4-different electrodes make it possible to cover wide pain areas in a single session and acquire immediate pain relief without the need of medications. The battery provided with this device can work up to 48 hours in a go. The control panel of the device is straight forward and easy to use while all of its settings are fully adjustable according to the usage requirements. You can adjust the time, frequency and intensity all according to your needs while a modulation feature allows to create the right combination if intensity and frequency and gain maximum benefit.
AccuMed AP112 Portable TENS UnitAccuMed is a well known brand for developing durable products with superior design and features. This portable TENS Unit is another such product, designed for home, medical use, approved by FDA and clinically proven to provide essential relief and effectiveness. The device comes with 16 versatile therapy routines to provide for ultimate muscle stimulation through carefully selected and advanced therapeutic and massage techniques. The dual channel design and two pair of electrodes allows for adaptable usage according to individual requirements while the intensity levels can be adjusted to up to 20 levels. The device is extremely easy to use and operate, based on the plug and play system, the Large LCD screen displays all the chosen settings in a clear manner. The time for a certain routine can be defined between 10 to 60 minutes, according to the user preference. Based on the TENS therapy this unit works by stimulating the body muscles to trigger natural endorphins of the body which blocks the pain signals to the brain and relieves the pain by stimulating the regeneration of tissues. The unit is light weight and portable, comes with an AC adapter as well as a USB port which makes it easier to travel around with the device. It comes with Foscam’s one year USA warranty also.
Zewa Spabuddy Tens TherapyThe Zewa Spabuddy is a natural pain relief device based on electro massage TENS therapy. It incorporates the most advanced and professional massage technology to provide for temporary pain relief to sore muscles and aching joints and is ideal for daily household usage. It comes with 8 different massage therapy programs to choose from and the intensity level of each program can be adjusted to up to 30 levels. It is a dual channel device and can cover a large pain area at the same time. You can also adjust the time settings for each program between 5 tp 95 minutes according to your usage requirements. A wide LCD display clearly displays all the settings while the machine is easy to control and adjust. It is a small hand held device, operated by AAA batteries and can be used safely while on the go. A screen lock protects the settings from changing while it is kept in the pocket and a protective cover is also used to shield the screen against scratches. The device is approved by FDA, comes with a 2 year warranty and is readily available over the counter without the need of a doctor’s prescription.
FDA passed Healthmate TENS unitThe TENS unit is one of the best electrotherapy devices and an electronic pulse massager. It is a portable, handheld device and can be used on all parts of the body and is widely acknowledged professionals for pain relief all over the world. It comes with 12 distinct therapeutic modes to give users a lot of options and choose a pain relief therapy according the need. The intensity levels can also be adjusted accordingly and you can also choose the time for each therapy session. It is a dual channel device and both the channels A/B can be used and operated in complete independence with each other. The modes and intensity levels of the two channels can be adjusted easily and the LCD screen displays clear information of the machine settings. The backlit LCD screen also displays the information of battery charging level along with the timer settings for the session. When the battery is weak, the stimulation and intensity level also decreases and notifies you to recharge or replace the battery. The device comes with two pairs of electrodes, 2 electrode leads, 1 USB extension wire and AC adapter that uses a voltage of 110-240V. It is approved by FDA, available over the counter and comes with a lifetime warranty as well.
iReliev TENS Massager UnitThe iReliev TENS massager unit is one of the best in the industry, endorsed by licensed physical therapists of Florida, this unit works incredibly well to provide quick relief to the sore muscles and chronic body aches. Based on the iReliev technology this unit is easy to program and is far more effective as compared to many other devices. It comes with the dual channel system and gives you the leverage to use it for multiple body parts at the same time. The device has 8 therapy modes to choose from and the RX equivalent output intensity system brings forth 25 intensity levels or 80mA. The timer setting is easily adjustable between 5-60 minutes while the auto-lock technology keeps your settings from changing while on the go. The wide LCD screen display the program modes, intensity levels, power level, timer settings and auto-lock mode. This iReliev device is designed such that it is easy to carry and clip while travelling and can be worn completely concealed under the shirt. It is approved by FDA and is readily available as an over the counter product. The device ensures effective relief from pain and eliminates the need of taking pain killers and other strong medications.
AccuRelief TENS ElectrotherapyThe Accu Relief Dual Channel system is one the most dynamic and customizable pain relief and highly suitable for home, work and travel usage. It is a clinically proven device, provides quick and instant relief to pain along with the strength to eliminate the need of painkillers. This dual channel device can be used to work on various body parts at the same time or target a large, pain area while saving a lot of operating time for the machine. It comes with 6 pre-programmed therapeutic modes and the ability to add 6 customizable programs according to the user needs. The intensity levels can be adjusted to 25 levels while the machine can operate for 30 minutes in one go and has an auto shut off feature as well. The four premium quality electrodes are lightweight, flexible and self-adhesive and are able to maintain a strong grip on the targeted body parts to ensure a systematic TENS electrotherapy experience. Along with the electrodes, three AAA batteries, a pair of lead wires and a user manual is also included with the system. It is an FDA approved device and is easily available from over the counter without the need of any prescription.
Therapeutix TENS Unit MassagerThe best thing in any product is its ability to work for a long period of time without any issues. And that is what, offered here in this product, It comes with a lifetime warranty and has the capability to help you relieve pain easily. It can be used for various parts of the body for a long lasting pain relief. This digital TENS unit has a wide range of functions that include various pulse settings, and modes like massager, low module, high frequency module and an easy to set functions to be used without any hassles. The device is sleek and lightweight and very easy to carry in your hand. It is just like a smart mobile device that will give you a chance to relax where ever you take it with you. It runs on a rechargeable li-ion battery. The device is FDA passed and totally safe and effective to be used for pain management and relaxation therapy.
Easy@Home TENS UnitEasy at home is a well known manufacturer and this product reflect their ability to provide high quality and effective devices for the users. This unit comes with a 4 electrodes and a smart unit body that has an easy to control button and a lightweight design with an LCD screen to give you an idea, what is going on while running the device. The unit is capable of running automatically with 6 different body areas settings that include knees, shoulder, waist, joint, hand and foot and sole. It also comes with the different massager settings. There are 10 various power levels and an easy to alter speed buttons for the impulses being produced. The device is FDA and OTC approved and has a money back and product replacement warranty for 1 year, to ensure trustworthy customer relationship. It is very compact and can easily be used anywhere and can be carried in a purse or a small handbag. It runs on 4 AAA batteries. All in all, this device has got many advantageous features that would make you feel relaxed and easy while using it for different bodily pains.
TENS Units Buying Guide
Why suffer when you can eliminate the pain? We have seen people who always complain about their bodily pains and issues, but when we ask them whether or not they have searched for the solution, the most probable answer that we get is a big “NO.” the solution is to find pain relief in a TENS unit.
You should know that the technology is constantly changing and we can expect wonders coming ahead in nearly every field of medical wonders, one of which is pain control.
Having pain is a common issue especially once you reach the age of 30 or above.
Some very interesting interpretations of the tens units:
- TENS machine relieve tense muscles or tense nerves.
- TENS machines are the machines that can function for many different bodily pains.
- TENS machines produce intense electronic impulses
But all these above mentioned descriptions are meaningless and are only based on some false interpretations. What actually is a TENS machine? Let’s talk about it in the below sections.
What is a TENS Unit?
A TENS unit is a small machine that is named for the process called Transcuteneous electrical nerve stimulation . These units are meant to transmit electrical impulses through the electrodes that are attached on the surface of the person’s skin. The bandwidth, intensity and the frequency of the impulses can be controlled according to the needs of the user.
These units come in various forms and sizes and hence can be very helpful in treating the pain issue within a human’s body. These units are highly effective in treating pain spot efficiently without any side effects.
These TENS units consist of a electrodes that are attached to the user’s skin where the impulses have to be delivered, a connecting cable to the transmitter and an electrical impulse generator and transmitter. The bandwidth, the frequency and the intensity of the impulses that are to be produced are determined through setting made on the unit by the user.
The unit runs on a rechargeable battery that you put into the unit and it creates electrical impulses . The impulses are then transferred to the pained area through the electrodes that are being attached to the skin surface. From there the electrical impulses are delivered to the sensory system.
Though there are many other ways that have been used treat painful muscle and bodily areas like pain relief therapies, medicines and exercises, the TENS units are proven to be effective and have very little health risks.
Why Use a TENS Unit?
TENS units have a wide range of applications and can be used to bring in pain relief under various painful conditions a person might be suffering from. A tens machine is useful in treating muscular pain. The most common uses and applications of such machines are as follows:
- These units are very helpful in treating back pain and neck pain. You can easily use these units to reduce and avoid muscular pain through the nerve impulse control. These machines are helpful in treating chronic muscular pain in the back and neck area and help to reduce future pain in the affected area.
- These units are also very effective at treating joint pain caused by muscular issues or muscle tension. You can use it to reduce the chronic pain in your knee joints and shoulders as well.
- TENS units are also used on women undergoing labor pain. But it should only be administered when the pain is mild or at a minimum level, and the mothers are able to bear with it by using the TENS machine.
- These are also helpful in treating migraine headaches. In case you have chronic pain in your head region, these units could be very helpful in relieving the pain with a proper usage of regular impulse provided through the tens machines.
- Other applications may include chest pain, travel sickness, tooth ache, general tiredness,period pains and all such cases where the actual cause is very well known and can be relieved through blocking/stimulating nerve cells.
These units have a wide range applicability and be used easily in a condition when the pain has been diagnosed as a cause of muscular fault or issues in nervous areas. But in case you don’t know the exact cause or the level of complication and the basic cause of the pain symptoms, you should first consult a physiotherapist to help you decide about using the Tense unit.
Can everyone use a TENS unit? Who should not?
As described earlier, these units have no side effects related to usage and can easily and effectively be used when there is a need to reduce pain symptoms in the body. These units are suitable for all and can be used for sure.
But in cases when a person has some serious health issues or has an imbalanced nervous electrical discharge or is already using another device, should always be careful in using these machines or should avoid using it.
- An epilepsy patient cannot use this unit because he/she already has disruptive nervous electrical discharge and if the unit get applied it will worsen the condition.
- People who have skin sensitivity issues, should also consider consulting a doctor before using or applying electrodes on the skin
- Another exception is with the people who are using pacemakers. Such a machine would not work when you have got another electrical stimulation device working within your body.
- Also, mothers who have gotten intense labor pains are not at all advised to use these units, rather it can only be used under the supervision of a physiotherapist in a controlled way when the pains are in their initial stages.
- People who have suffered or are currently suffering from cognitive or brain related diseases or issues should also not try out or use these units.
What are the health benefits of a TENS machine
Talking about the health benefits of a TENS machine, we should not limit it to the pain relief of the user’s body, but we should also consider the extra benefits this machine can bring into your life. The machines have become very popular due to the low risk factor and a wide range of its applicability to treat various pain symptoms without any issues. Another major aspect that has contributed a lot in the success and popularity of these units is its flexibility and customizability to adjust according to the required level of impulse generation.
Now if we see on the benefits that a TENS machine is able to bring to our lives, there are discussed as below:
1. A complete remedy for bodily pains
These units are totally risk free when used for bodily aches that have been diagnosed by certified medical practitioners and are based on nervous and muscular issues or strain. These little units can work wonders for chronic pain patients, either its in your back muscles or in neck, knees, chest or shoulder pains. These units are well known to provide comfort and instant and long lasting relief from pain without posing any risk to other parts of your body.
2. Get rid of pain killers
You can easily get rid of pain killers and reduce or eliminate the chances of developing dependency on chemicals and tablets you take for pain relief purposes. You can simply use these machines to increase the activity or healthy internal functions and decrease the chances of pain symptoms.
3. Increases your body’s own pain killing ability
When you use the TENS units at a lower frequency, then it can serve you to initiate the body chemicals called endorphins, which have pain killing abilities and are naturally produced by the internal systems of the human body and these bodily chemicals enables the body to fight and reduce painful feelings naturally.
4. Very easy and portable
These machines are very easy to use and the electrodes can easily be attached and the machine is a very small and light which can be attached to your belt and it can function anywhere you need it except in a vehicle or a car.
Types of TENS machines available
Basically, there are three kinds of TENS machines that are available out there which are as follows:
1. Analog TENS units
These units are a little bulkier as compared to other types and have a limited control over their functions. They have 2-3 knobs or dials that are used to determine the frequency and bandwidth of the electrical impulses, while their timings are preset and can only be changed within the given range.
2. Digital TENS units
Digital TENS machines are a lot better as compared to the analog unit. It is because these have a greater level of control and varied options for settings. You can set up timings, frequency and bandwidth without any preset limits being applied. They are also smaller in size and have more functions to apply.
3. Combination TENS units
Combination TENS machines come with a dual function. These can work as a TENS as well as an EMS machine. Where the tens machine work to reduce pain through nerve functions, EMS machines are meant to work on muscle tissues to strengthen the muscles, relax the tissues and help reduce fatigue effects. Dual function or combination machines can work in both settings.
You should be clear about the type of TENS machine you have to buy.
How it works to relieve pain?
Now, after knowing all the necessary features, options and aspects, what comes next? Of course, the mechanism that a TENS unit uses to create soothing effects and help reduce the pain in a natural way.
Basically, the whole mechanism is straightforward, the electrodes are attached to the affected area on the body and the unit is turned on and set up to generate the required electrical charge having the set amplitude, frequency and pulse rate you need or is suitable to treat your issue. The electrical impulse is carried to the body through the wires to the electrodes and through electrodes to the sensory nerves that are within the area that is to be treated. The electrical impulses are then carried to the brain where it reduces the pain by acting on the neural pathways.
The mechanism has been defined and explained using two of the theoretical paradigms that are:
The neural gate process:
The first explanation which is given to describe the whole mechanism that is used by the TENS units is the creation of an inhibitory Gate within the neural pathways. It has been said that at high frequency rates when the TENS machines are used to generate impulses having the frequency rate of 90-130 hertz, these impulses create a gate between the message carrying nerves and the brain receptors. This gate is then used to inhibit the neurotransmitters that carry pain impulses, to reach the brain and in this way the message is not transmitted to the brain and the person will not experience pain any more.
The endorphin theory
The second explanation is the induction of endorphins within the body. This explanation is for TENS functioning when a very low frequency current is used, that is about 2-5 HZ. Creating such electrical impulses causes the body to excrete pain reducing neuro-chemicals that act like that of the morphine to reduce or eliminate pain signals.
Are there any health hazards of using a TENS unit?
Using TENS units are safe for everyone, who have pain issues that have already been diagnosed as a cause of muscular tension, nerve tension or some neuro-muscular issues.
But exceptions are there, when you use the unit in exceptional ways, then, chances are there that you might get into unusual issues that are not there when the unit is used in a normal and appropriate manner.
- If you use the unit for a very long period of time and also don’t prefer to cleanse your skin before attaching the electrodes then you might experience some itching or skin irritation issues. But this issue can easily be avoided through, proper cleaning of the skin and proper usage.
- Further, you may feel muscle twitching or mild cramps if you set the unit to generate high frequency impulses having a higher amplitude. You should always try to keep the settings at a mild level to avoid any such issues or else you can follow the instructions as given by your physiotherapist.
Best practices to use TENS unit
Using a TENS unit is easy but still needs some important and crucial things to know about it.
- The first step in using a TENS unit is to place the electrodes on the skin properly.
- Be sure to place them after you have cleansed the skin by using an alcohol swab.
- Make sure the amplitude is set to the zero position before you attach the electrodes.
- Set up the frequency and bandwidth. This is very important because the way to set up the electrical impulses will determine how intense would be the action.
For example: If you need to set the mode at higher frequency which can be above 80 or so, you should know that the bandwidth should be set as an opposite value. Meaning that the higher the pulse rate, the lower should be the bandwidth.
The formula you should use would be:
↑ pulse rate=↓bandwidth
Like if you choose a pulse rate of 100hz then it would be best to use a bandwidth of 70-80µs.
- If you have severe pain then the best thing you should do is to set up a higher bandwidth and lower pulse rate.
- Set up the module very carefully. If you need to use normal or continuous, Pulse mode or burst mode.
- Normal mode delivers an electrical charge in a balanced way, while in pulse mode, you will get a regular shift of about 50 of charge high and low values. In burst mode the settings are set with 100Hz pulse rate and a 100µs bandwidth to give you the exact level of “buzz feel”.
For how long a TENS unit should be used?
The timing depends upon the nature of the pain and the relief level you need to achieve.
- It would be best if you use the TENS unit for about 30-60 or 45-60 minutes per session.
- If you have to go with a low frequency mode, then a prolonged usage will only work if you set the frequency with 2Hz, in other case if you set it above 4 the effectiveness of the TENS impulses will fade away due to the production of the endorphins in the body.
- You can repeat the procedure after every 90 minutes.
How to maintain your TENS machine
TENS units can serve you on a long term basis, and can be a long lasting health partner if it is maintained properly. Here are some important things you should know about keeping your TENS unit in a proper condition:
- Always keep the battery of the unit fully charged so that it could serve you as you require
- Always keep the unit away from water or avoid spilling water on it as if you don’t, the unit may not work properly or can get destroyed.
- Be sure,that you don’t slip or drop the unit frequently, and also never put any heavy thing right on its front, as it will change or ruin its operations.
Cautions while using a TENS machine
Some extremely important things you should know about using the unit safely:
- Never put electrodes on a ruptured, irritated or allergic skin.
- Never use the machine in a vehicle
- Never use the unit when you already have a pacemaker in use.
- Never put the electrodes on your skin when the amplitude setting is one and set to high level.
- Never use it with heat pads.
- Never put the electrodes on the front part of the neck as it will cause blood pressure to fall down. Also, putting them in front and back of the chest area simultaneously can cause heart issues as the charges will cross the heart for sure.
How to buy and where to buy?
Now, You have got through the whole information that you may need to assess any TENS unit and can easily get up to pick the right one for you. Here is a step by step process to help you out:
- Decide about the type of machine you need
- Decide on the budget you need to spend
- Look for the brands you like
- Check for the maximum power it can give
- Look for the features you need and the level of customization the products have.
- Look for the FDA certification. Approved one would be the best.
- Check for the warranty time periods, maintenance and repair needs you’ll face.
- Read the reviews online
- Buy the one that can serve your needs perfectly.
You may look to buy a TENS unit from your nearby store or a pharmacy, but there would be far less choices as compared to when you choose to buy online. You can find plenty of options, price offers and discounted rates on the leading shopping sites like the Amazon. You should never buy from an un-trusted seller and always put quality in front of you while picking up a unit.
Coming to the end of our in-depth discussion regarding the selection and usage of the best TENS units, we can say that this little unit has got the power to help you manage your pain in a natural and soothing way without any health risks, if used wisely and carefully. You should use it for your bodily pain where the pain has an origin that is known and has its base in neuro-muscular areas. You can easily get a combo unit or a simple TENS machine to help you out. The key to get the desired results is the proper usage through correct placement and correct settings for pulse rate, bandwidth and the amplitude.
It has been proven that these units can do miracles for those who are suffering from chronic bodily pains. So why are you bearing with your painful body now, when you have got a machine that can help you regain your body’s energy back to normal. You should give some time to yourself and let this machine, help you soothe your pain away! Buy one now!