Top 7 TENS Unit For Effective Pain Management – 2020

by Sakshi Bahal
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Innovation in technology has reduced our dependence on drugs for pain management. TENS and EMS units are safe, non-invasive, and drug-free methods to provide relief from musculoskeletal pain. These small, portable devices have been recommended and employed by medical professionals for decades now.

Products
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TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit
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HealthmateForever TENS Unit
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NURSAL TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator
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Tens Unit Plus 24
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KEDSUM Rechargeable 16 Modes Tens Unit
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Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit
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iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle Stimulator
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The market is brimming with several varieties of TENS units. Choosing one that suits your needs the best is not an easy deal. This article provides all the information that will help you in your quest . We have listed the 7 best TENS units available on the market right now, along with a buying guide. 

What Is A TENS  Unit? 

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation(TENS) is a small, battery-operated device that is used for pain relief. It involves the use of mild electrical current.

The device features a lead that is connected to small pads known as electrodes. For therapy, the pads are directly attached to your skin. As you switch the machine on, small electrical impulses are delivered to the pain affected areas of your body.

You may feel a tingling sensation as the machine runs. TENS therapy may reduce the pain signal going to your spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax your muscles.

TENS machines may stimulate the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. This machine may help reduce pain and muscle spasms caused by arthritis, period pain, endometriosis, back pain, knee pain, neck pain, and sports injuries. 

How Does A TENS Unit Work And Where To Buy One? 

To start the TENS therapy, you first need to plug the pad wires into the A and B channels that are located at the top of the device.

  • Snap the wire onto the pads for powered muscle stimulation. Ensure that each part is connected firmly.
  • Peel off the protective film on the electrode pads and place them on the targeted area of pain relief. The pads have to be placed 3 cm apart, on each side of the desired area to avoid overlapping.
  • Once the electrode pads are securely placed, switch on the machine. It will start automatically from mode 1 and level one. You can select the mode of your choice.
  • Use the intensity buttons located on the left-hand side of the device to control the A1/A2 ports. For dual channels, alter the intensities on A and B channel (left side/right side).
  • Increase the intensity gradually and gently to test your acceptance level of intensity.
  • After using the device, turn it off completely and then unplug it. Make sure to keep the pads back into the pad holders to ensure the longevity of the pads.

Though you can buy a TENS machine online, it is best to consult your general physician. This way, you can get a proper assessment done and know whether you need a TENS machine or not. Also, your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist or pain clinic.

You can first try TENS therapy at the physiotherapy center, and if it works for you and provides relief, you can buy the device.

Getting yourself acquainted with TENS therapy at the physiotherapy center will not only help you in making the purchase decision, but you will also learn how to operate the device. The therapy will be most effective only when the settings are adjusted correctly according to you and your condition.

Let us now take a look at the best TENS units you can buy. 

7 Best TENS Units

1. TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit

The TENS 7000 is a muscle stimulator and muscle recovery device and is the best valued over-the-counter digital TENS unit on the market. The 9-volt battery makes this TENS unit powerful and durable. It is preferred by physical therapists and physicians for pain relief. This long-lasting and drug-free muscle pain relief device can be used for back pain, neck pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel relief, arthritis, shoulder, knee, leg, and foot pain.

The machine offers multiple TENS therapy modes. It is a muscle stimulator, nerve stimulator, and electric massager equipped with independent dual channels that control four TENS unit pads to provide targeted pain relief. 

Features

  • 5 powerful therapy modes of operation that help to tackle back pain, neck pain, or joint pain and relax your muscles.
  • Includes 4 packs of multi-use TENS unit pads.
  • 2 control knobs help you control the intensity level of the TENS device.
  • Therapy can be given based on a person’s requirement or can be timed for up to 60 minutes.
  • Comes with a protective case to store the device safely.
  • Comes with a one-year warranty.

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS
  • Battery Type: AA battery
  • TENS Mode: 5
  • Pads: 4
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight: 2 lb

Pros

  • High output strength with 8 adjustable levels of intensity
  • Energized by 9volt battery
  • Hard carry case
  • Long battery life
  • Solid construction and well built
  • 5 powerful TENS therapy modes
  • Easy to use 

Cons

  • Electrode pads supplied with the machine aren’t as good as some replacement electrodes. 

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2. HealthmateForever TENS Unit

The HealthmateForever TENS unit offers both TENS and PMS qualities in one device. It helps to manage pain and strengthen muscles by blocking pain receptors in the central nervous system. This machine is non-invasive, all-natural, drug-free, and safe and easy to use.

The easy to read and operate mode buttons help to provide targeted pain relief. It comes with a frequency adjustment feature that helps you adjust the speed according to your comfort level. This product helps to amplify the body’s natural ability to heal and recover.

Features

  • Automatic shut-off feature allows you to time your therapy session.
  • Animated backlit 3D display makes it easy to read.
  • Allows 8 pads to be used at the same time.
  • Belt clip equipped. 

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS, EMS
  • Battery Type: AAA battery
  • TENS Mode: 15
  • Pads: 8
  • Output: Four
  • Weight: 9 lb 

Pros

  • Can use four output units at once
  • Predefined massage programs 

Cons

  • Screen backlight goes off quickly. 

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3. NURSAL TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator

The NURSAL TENS muscle stimulator is a safe, non-invasive, and non-medicinal pain relief unit. It uses electronic impulses to stimulate muscles through multi-programmed massage modes. This unit is perfect for those with back pain, neck pain, inflamed discs/joints, shoulder tension, arthritis, etc. It is equipped with a built-in lithium battery that provides up to 20 hours of continuous use and is rechargeable.

This device comes with eight strong self-adhesive reusable conductive pads. The pads are differently sized and can be used on different parts of the body. This product features a dual output design that allows six pads to be applied to two different targeted areas at the same time.

Features

  • Multi-programmed massage modes.
  • 20 levels of adjustable strength.
  • Built-in powerful rechargeable lithium battery.
  • Conveniently pocket-sized.
  • Free dust-proof pouch.
  • 8 strong and thicker reusable electrode pads.
  • FDA-, CE- and ROHS-certified TENS therapy device.
  • Backed up by a limited lifetime warranty and 1-year money-back or replacement guarantee.

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS, EMS
  • Battery Type: Built-in lithium
  • TENS Mode: 16
  • Pads: 8
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight: 8 lb 

Pros

  • Easy to operate
  • Versatile unit
  • Minimalistic design
  • Good mix of large and small reusable pads

Cons

  • Instruction manual could be better. 

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4. Tens Unit Plus 24

TheTechCare TENS unit is a combination of TENS and PMS device. It delivers low voltage pulses to stimulate the muscles. The 24 preprogrammed massage modes include stimulation of tapping, acupuncture, cupping, combo, and deep tissue massage.

This product features one of the most powerful batteries on the market. It offers a large LCD display, multi modes, and two A-B outputs. Techcare Massager Plus 24 TENS device contracts and releases muscles to stimulate different types of massages to relieve pain without using drugs and with no known side effects.

Features

  • Rechargeable internal lithium battery that lasts up to 20 hours of continuous use.
  • 24 preprogrammed massage modes.
  • Adjustable 10 to 60 minutes timer that helps you to personalize your therapy.
  • Limited lifetime warranty and a 30-day money-back policy.
  • Offers 20 intensity levels that can be set within each channel.
  • 24 modes are categorized into six groups, each group having four modes to choose from.
  • The therapy session, by default, will last up to 20 minutes, after which the machine automatically shuts-off to save battery. 

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS, PMS
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable internal lithium battery
  • TENS Mode: 24
  • Pads: 6
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight: 8 lbs 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • 20 intensity levels
  • Big and clear backlit display
  • Adjustable timer
  • Long battery life
  • Rechargeable through USB or wall charger
  • Value for money 

Cons

  • Can’t adjust the intensity of both channels simultaneously. 

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5. KEDSUM Rechargeable 16 Modes Tens Unit

TheKEDSUM Rechargeable Tens Unit is perfect for people who want fast and effective pain relief on the go. This small and portable device is user-friendly and comes with a rechargeable lithium battery. The device is equipped with different massage modes like Knocking, Acupuncture, Cupping, Tapping, Shiatsu-Deep, Sensitive Parts Massage Mode, etc.

The LED display and easy controls add to the ease of operating the device. It features four self-adhesive conductive pads that can work on different parts of your body, like the lower back, hands, feet, wrists, ankles, or anywhere you need.

Features

  • 16 preprogrammed massage modes.
  • Reusable conductive pads that can last upto 20 to 30 uses.
  • 20 intensity levels help you adjust the intensity as per your level of comfort.
  • Adjustable 10 to 60 minutes timer helps you time your session and adds safety to the device. It comes with a default setting of 20 minutes.
  • Animated backlit LCD display makes it easy to control in daylight and dark.

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable lithium battery
  • TENS Mode: 16
  • Pads: 8
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight:7 lb

Pros

  • Upgraded medical grade electrodes
  • Battery lasts up to 10 hours of continuous use
  • 16 TENS modes
  • Dual output design
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Adjustable timer

Cons

  • Not durable. 

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6. Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit

Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS unit is a perfect choice for those with chronic and acute pain. It is equipped with human body simulation technology, bioelectricity technology, electromagnetic technology, bionic technology, and microcomputer intelligent control technology.

It comes with a variety of massage methods, such as cupping, acupuncture, tapping, scraping, combination, and tuina. This device helps in treating back pain, arthritic or inflamed discs/ joints, and shoulder tension and provides muscle relief. 

Features

  • 24 preprogrammed massage modes for pain and muscle relief.
  • Adjustable automatic shut-off timer offers therapy from 10 to 60 minutes and automatically shuts-off after 60 minutes.
  • Offers 20 intensity levels to adjust the strength according to your comfort level.
  • Features a free dustproof drawstring storage bag.
  • Built-in powerful rechargeable lithium batteries that last up to 20 hours of continuous use. 

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS, EMS
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable in-built lithium battery
  • TENS Mode: 24
  • Pads: 10
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight: 75 lb 

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Automatic shut-off timer
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Free dustproof drawstring storage bag
  • Reusable fastening cable ties 

Cons

  • Pads don’t adhere properly. 

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7. iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle Stimulator

iReliev is an effective and portable therapy system that combines two therapies in one device. This unit delivers low voltage pulses to your skin to stimulate nerve fibers effectively. It is a highly innovative device and offers 14 preprogrammed therapy modes that make it easy to use and versatile.

It also comes with six EMS massage programs that help in muscle conditioning. The other eight TENS massage modes are specially designed to help with muscle and nerve pain relief. This medical-grade device comes with 25 adjustable intensity levels. The dual-channel technology helps you to use four electronic pads at the same time.

The unit can power either power two large pads or four small pads at once. This portable and lightweight device can be used while you are at work or when you are busy finishing household chores. It comes with rechargeable batteries. The adjustable timer lends a safety feature to this product so that it doesn’t run for a longer period than you intend to. 

Features

  • Equipped with 14 therapy modes, out of which 7 are TENS Pain Relief Modes, 1 Arthritis TENS Mode, and 6 EMS Muscle Strength and Recovery Modes.
  • 25 levels of intensity with an output strength of 80 mA, which means you get medical-grade strength without any prescription and unreasonably high prices.
  • 43 inches LCD screen size.
  • Equipped with a 5 to 60 minutes adjustable timer that gives a personalized and safe therapy experience. 

Specifications

  • Technology Used: TENS+EMS
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable lithium battery
  • TENS Mode: 8
  • EMS Mode: 6
  • Pads: 4
  • Output: Dual
  • Weight: 1 lb 

Pros

  • Versatile mix of massage programs
  • Rechargeable internal lithium battery
  • Combines TENS+EMS therapy
  • Small and portable
  • Adjustable timer
  • Dual-channel versatility
  • Lock function

Cons

  • Short leads
  • Cannot use the device while it is plugged in. 

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TENS therapy is an effective solution for pain relief. It can help reduce your dependency on pain medications, some of which can be addictive or cause adverse side effects. Most of these units are over-the-counter devices, and you do not require a prescription to buy them. However, it is best to seek your physician’s advice before you start treating the pain or using the TENS unit along with your pain relief medication.

We have carefully selected the top 7 TENS units that are listed above after exhaustive research and analysis of all the TENS units available on the market. These devices are the most well-reviewed and popular devices among customers.

More and more evidence is coming up through research to prove the effectiveness of TENS therapy. Here’s a list of few benefits of using TENS therapy machine.

Benefits Of Using A TENS Machine

  • A natural and effective form of pain relief with little or no known side effects.
  • Helps in the production of endorphins, which are our body’s natural painkillers.
  • Helps to decrease or block pain signals traveling to the brain.
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Provides complete control over the treatment.
  • Works for a wide range of conditions.
  • Suitable for use in both acute and chronic pain.
  • A non-invasive method of treating your pain.
  • Small, lightweight device.
  • Affordable and easy to use.
  • Good for long-term use. 

Are There Any Side Effects? 

A TENS machine is safe to use. It provides safe treatment with no side effects. However, some people who have sensitive skin and are prone to allergies may develop one because of the pad. The skin may become red and irritated.

This is something not to worry about and shouldn’t deter you from using the machine as hypoallergenic pads are available for people with allergies.

Though TENS unit is safe to use, the following people shouldn’t use it without seeking medical advice:

  • Pregnant women
  • If you have any type of electrical or metal implant in your body, for example, pacemaker.
  • If you have epilepsy or a heart problem. 

A TENS device is a safe way of treating your pain. But, like any other unit, it has to be operated with care and keeping certain factors in mind. We have compiled a list of points that you need to bear in mind while using a TENS unit. 

Safety Information

  1. The conductive pads should only be used on normal, healthy, clean, and dry skin. Never use the pads on open wounds or rashes or over swollen, red, infected, or inflamed skin.
  2. If you are a first-time user and notice symptoms like red and itchy skin, discontinue using the TENS unit.
  3. This device is not suitable for children, pregnant women, people with hypertension, skin problems, or sensitive skin, or anyone who has recently undergone a surgical procedure.
  4. People who have a pacemaker or other life support equipment, such as an artificial lung or respirator, should avoid using this massager.
  5. Never use this device over the main arteries close to your neck or throat, near the heart, directly to the heart area, across or on the chest, and across or on your head.
  6. Don’t use the device if it necessitates placement over areas at which drugs/medicines are administered (short-term or long-term) by injection (e.g., hormone treatment).
  7. Never use the pads on the same body parts for more than 30 minutes.
  8. Replace the pads after using them for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Remember, the TENS device is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice.

TENS  units can be easily purchased at local retail stores and on the internet. You have several options to choose from. This might also confuse you, though, as to which one to buy. We have listed below a few important factors that you need to keep in mind to make your TENS purchase decision easier. 

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best TENS Unit

  1. Modes: TENS units are available with different modes and programs you can use. They offer two types of therapy: predefined massage programs and other units that allow you the possibility to create your own massage program using a combination of their features. Some models of TENS units come with predefined modes and programs for every part of your body. Buying a TENS unit that offers multiple modes and programs will add to your therapy experience.

 

  1. Intensity Levels: TENS units offer multiple intensity levels that allow you to personalize your therapy experience. Depending on your needs, you can adjust the intensity of the device on high or low. For a relaxing massage, you can set the device on low intensity, while for a reinvigorating massage, you can increase the intensity. This adjustability feature of the machine does not make it user-specific and can be shared with other members of the family. 
  1. Timer: TENS units come equipped with a timer that makes for safe user experience. This feature also helps to preserve the life of the unit’s battery and that of its electrode pads. The timer helps you time your session. Using the unit for too long can be uncomfortable and may lead to bruising if you have no previous experience of using the unit. On the other hand, shorter sessions will not be able to provide adequate relief. Hence, the timer will help you to keep a tab on the duration of your massage. 
  1. EMS Feature: Most of the TENS units come equipped with an EMS feature. This feature is better at treating chronic and acute pain than a simple TENS unit. 
  1. Screen: Though the screen may not seem to be an important factor to consider while buying a TENS unit, its importance shouldn’t be overlooked. Look for a TENS unit that has a big screen and backlight. A small screen can be inconvenient as you have to squint your eyes to read it. Moreover, it is not the ideal option if you plan to use your TENS unit while commuting or working. Having a large screen with a backlight option is more beneficial and easy to adjust even in low light conditions. 
  1. Battery Life: The battery lifespan and the battery type are important factors to consider. A few TENS units feature built-in rechargeable batteries, while others use two or three AA or AAA batteries. If you are buying one with built-in rechargeable batteries, it will give you the benefit of low operating costs. On the other hand, AA or AAA batteries are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
  1. Accessories: The lead wire and electrode pads are the most important accessories that come with a TENS unit. The lead wire length and the gap between the pads should be factored in. A long lead wire will allow you to use the device for any part of your body. Also, the distance between the pads is important as too short a distance will result in placing the pads too close to each other, which can result in an uncomfortable experience.
  1. Portability: A portable TENS unit is easy to carry. Most TENS devices are small and portable, which makes it easy to use them anywhere. A few models are smaller than a mobile phone, and you can easily carry them in your pocket. Other models are slightly bigger than the mobile phone, and you will be required to carry them in your purse or backpack. Thus, the shape and size of a TENS unit are important considerations, so choose a model you will feel comfortable using.
  1. Warranty: When investing in a TENS unit, consider the warranty period of the device. A good warranty period reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in their products. Some devices come with a lifetime warranty, while others only offer a 30-day refund guarantee. 
  1. Cost: The cost of a TENS unit is reflected in its replacement patches and batteries. Choose a unit that has a low operating cost and one that meets your requirements. 

We hope this article has supplied you with all the relevant information that you need to know before buying a TENS unit. Make sure you consult your physician before opting for one from our list of top 7 TENS units. 

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Is TENS therapy painful?

TENS therapy should not hurt. You can ensure this by adjusting the intensity of the unit at a strong yet comfortable level.

Can I get an electric shock while using a TENS therapy?

TENS is an electrical device. If you try to reposition or take off the patches, remove the wires from the patches without first turning the unit off, the unit gets wet while you are using it, or touch bare wires on a damaged cord, you might get a shock.

Where should I place the patches?

Place the patches surrounding the area of discomfort and pain. Also, place them on the fleshy areas of your body and not the boney sites.

Is TENS therapy safe?

TENS therapy is a safe method of pain relief. It has been prescribed and used by medical professionals, such as chiropractors, physicians, and physical therapists, for more than 30 years now.

How do I choose an intensity level?

After switching on the therapy device, begin with the lowest intensity level, and gradually increase it to a level that feels comfortable to you. You can go up the power level if you feel the therapy is too weak or can reduce it if the intensity feels uncomfortable.

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Sakshi Bahal

Sakshi Bahal has a Masters degree in English Literature from Calcutta University. She was a part of the editorial team of her school magazine. Her love for writing inspired her to take up literature and follow that up with creative writing after completing her education. She has been writing on beauty and skin care for the past 4 years.Sakshi has also authored a compilation of high school essays. A self-declared bookworm, she enjoys traveling, music, movies, and lots of coffee.
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