What are TENS Units and How do They Work?

TENS is an acronym that stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit is a battery powered pocket sized device that is used to control pain by sending mild electrical signals to specified parts of the body. The electrical signals are very mild but they are enough to prevent pain signals from being sent to the brain. They can also increase the level of endorphins, which are a natural painkiller produced by the brain, thus reducing or totally eliminating the pain feeling.

an example of a tens unit
Tens Unit example

How does a TENS unit work?

The TENS unit is connected to the skin through the use of two or more electrodes. There is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness of the TENS unit though specialists insist that it provides low risk nerve stimulation that is non-invasive and capable of reducing both chronic and acute pain. TENS units are said to control many types of pain including short term pain like that resulting from an accident or surgery. It is also used to control long term pain such as that resulting from chronic illnesses like arthritis, cancer pain, back or muscular pain amongst others.

It is important that one uses the TENS machine only under the direction of a physical therapist, a doctor or an occupational therapist. It is simple enough to use and all one has to do is place the self-stick pads on opposite sides of the area experiencing the pain and turn on the dial up till the point that one feels a tingling sensation. The patient should then let it run for a period of 20 minutes after this. The tingling feeling may feel like a massage to the area it is applied to.

How to Use a Tens Unit

It is recommended that TENS machines are used under the direct supervision of a doctor, though the patient needs to know how to:

  • Correctly place the electrodes
  • Change the batteries
  • Operate the TENS machine
  • Adjust the frequency and the voltage

This is considered to be a very safe method of alleviating pain and can be used on any part of the body except the heart, the front of the neck and over the eyes. It will not affect any drugs the patient may be taking ad does not call for the use of a needle or any other such similar equipment.

During the TENS treatment, the patient should notify the therapist or doctor if they feel their muscles start to twitch. This could be as a result of the TENS unit sending signals that are too strong or too fast. If the patient does not experience any tingling sensation then this means that the signal is way too low to have any effect. For those patients using the TENS unit all through the day and night, removal of the electrodes at least once a day is healthy advice. Also cleaning of the area where the electrodes had been placed should be done thoroughly to ensure no germs or nasties are growing under the pads. It is important not to get into water while using the TENS machine or while it is turned on.

How to choose the best TENS unit for pain relief: basic information and reviews

Given the fact that our modern lifestyle forces us to be seated more than 85% of the day, we are prone to muscular and back pain. The first step, in this case, is to visit your doctor and ask for advice; but what do you do when not even doctor’s orders prove effective in curing that nagging pain? Well, there is a simple and amazing solution that you can actually experience in the comfort of your own home: the TENS machines. These are based on modern technology and non-invasive methods that promise to help you relax and improve your current comfort state. TENS machines work based on nerve stimulation (low risk) and through this process they are capable of reducing acute and chronic pains. All you have to do is stick the electrode pads on a certain area of your skin and select the program you want from the available options. After this it’s time to relax and enjoy! TENS machines are effective in diminishing both short and long term pain that settled in either as a result of an injury or surgery or is the result of a long term illness like cancer or arthritis. You shouldn’t expect complete cure from these machines but you will be able to see an improvement in the level of pain pretty quickly and the pain will become more manageable. Also, you should have a professional (physical therapist or a doctor) guiding you with the usage at least for the first few sessions. The process is quite simple and anyone can understand how to place the sticking pads. Basically you place the pads on the opposite side of the area that hurts and you select the program that makes you feel a tingling sensation. Let the machine work its charm for about 20 minutes and then the session is over! Make sure to not place the pads over the heart, the frontal side of your neck or the eyes. Since there is a variety of TENS machine out there, we put together a list with the ones we consider to be the best. Please read on to see why these are on top of our list.  

Tru-Medic TM-1000PRO Deluxe TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager

This device is amongst the most advance TENS systems that will help you in relieving muscle pain, stiffness and other types of discomfort caused by localized pain. The system promotes two channels and you can simply select the area you want by pressing one of the buttons labeled “back”, “shoulder”, ”leg”, ”joint”, ”hand-foot”. You also have the possibility to choose the type of action you want (massage, beat or knead) and the level of power as the device offers a selection of 20 levels of power. The device is equipped with 4 pads, 1 USB wire and a big LCD display that offers information about the type of activity it is performing. You will never need to worry about batteries or running out of energy as the Tru-Medic TM-1000PRO Deluxe has Li-ion cells built-in that can be recharged. The Tru-Medic TM-1000PRO Deluxe is also a small device, not bigger than a typical remote, which can be easily carried with you during travels or at the gym.  

HealthMateForever – Dual Channel

The HealthmateForever 2 in 1 model features a touch screen that allows the user to select from 24 mode electrotherapy electronic pulse massager, a portable device with dual channel and a palm massager based on impulse. The main features we really appreciated in the HealthmateForever is the possibility to control how the impulses are going to be delivered and the fact that you can treat multiple problems at a time. The customization doesn’t stop here though. You have the possibility to select various modes of therapy for various conditions. With the HealthmateForever Tens Unit the user no longer needs to buy multiple machines for multiple conditions. Now you have one machine that can take care of all your pain related problems at the same time. Besides the automatic modes, the machine supports 12 custom designed modes for various areas of the body allowing the user to simply relax while its pain drifts away.  

iReliev TOP-BEST Tens massager

The iReliev Bundle machine simply takes the pain away by blocking its path to the brain. For this, the machine uses low-voltage pulses that also help in increasing the secretion of endorphins (the natural reaction of your body when it fights pain). The device is safe and you don’t need any special prescription to use it. Simply attached it as specified in the instructions and feel the pain disappear after only a few sessions. The iReliev Bundle System includes 8 automatic modes that are already programmed but you can always customize it for chronic or acute pain. After you decide the type of mode you want to set, all you have to do is relax and enjoy your pain-free life. What we really loved about this device, besides all the modules, is the size. The iReliev Bundle System is not bigger than a credit card and you can wear it anywhere you want without anyone noticing it.

 Zewa Spabuddy Sport Tens Pain Relief

The reality of alleviating pain without resorting to any medicinal pain relief is absolutely amazing and this is why the Zewa Spabuddy Sport Tens Pain Therapy is one of the most popular TENS devices on the market. Using electro-massage therapy, the Zewa Spabuddy offers temporary pain relief to those who worked too hard in the gym and feel the consequences in sore muscles or localized pain. It is also extremely useful in case you strained your back working too hard around the house. The thing that actually makes this device amazing is the fact that you can keep it in your pocket and simply forget about it as the pain simply vanishes. The device is equipped with a lock button so you won’t accidentally press any buttons while de device is in your pocket. To make things even more interesting, there are 30 levels of intensity, from medium to extreme, a timer so you set your own massage time and 2 different channels. The Zewa Spabuddy is safe to use over the counter and it is FDA approved so you can relax and enjoy your free time that from now on will be free of pain and enable you to live life to the full.  

TENDLITE Red Light Therapy Anti-Inflammatory Therapy

The Tendlite is on our list because it promotes an innovative technology that helps in healing inflammations in joints and tearing of tendons. This technology is the red light on 660nm wavelength and it has been proved by various scientific studies that it accelerates the local production of collagen, responsible for a faster healing various inflammations and tearing. This amazing device can be used in problems like golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff, tendonitis, knee pain, arthritis, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis and many others. These problems are usually addressed by doctors with various drugs but the Tendlite offers a natural relief by stimulating the production of collagen in the area. In order to see promising results, you must use the Tendlite 2 or 3 times each day (according to how severe the problem is) and you have to hold the red light over the problematic area for about 1 minute each session. The feature that makes the Tendlite stand out from other similar devices is the power to penetrate the tissue. The light simply goes through your skin and reaches the tissue underneath, stimulating the healing process. The Tendlite is a safe to use over the counter device but if you’re suffering from any of the following conditions you should address your doctor before consider using it: abnormal blood pressure, any acute disease, high fever, infectious disease, tumor, heart disease, pregnant, an abnormal skin condition, or any condition that implies the supervision of a physician.

Feel free to browse other Tens Machines

This is our list of the best TENS machines that will allow you to get rid of any chronic or acute pain without you having to use any drugs.  We have also reviewed a wide range of TENS machines to suit almost any ailment, and any personal requirement that you might need.  This is actually the most amazing feature these devices promote: relieving pain naturally, using simple stimuli. Protection Status