The Best TENS Unit - A Complete Buying Guide For 2022

Searching for a good TENS unit can be difficult, especially if you have tried subpar machines that just don’t cut it.

We have carefully reviewed and tested some widely available machines on the market to bring you the top selections. Here are the nine best TENS units you can buy this year. 

Table of Contents

What we like!

  • A 20-hour battery life
  • A and B output for separate users
  • Easy user interface with a large LCD screen

First up is the TechCare Plus 24 TENS Unit. This small device is loaded with great features to help your aching muscles.

It can work on your shoulder, waist, upper, and lower back areas to temporarily relieve the pain. It works by decreasing the pain signals traveling to your brain by releasing endorphins. These are natural painkillers present in your body.

Moreover, the device can deliver six massages that have been pre-programmed along with four intensity levels for the massage modes. These modes are acupuncture, cupping, combination, deep tissue, and foot massages.

Not only that, but the device can deliver soothing massages for 10 to 60 minutes.  The kit comes with 5 pairs of differently sized electrodes, a charger, a USB cable, and a pad holder.

A unique thing about the TechCare unit is that it has two separate outputs that two individuals can use simultaneously.

Additionally, the power is supplied through a rechargeable battery power pack that can run for 20 hours on a single charge.

The device uses a large LCD screen with a user-friendly interface to manage the controls.

Pros

  • Temporarily relieves sore and aching muscles in the back, waist, and shoulder.
  • Six  massage modes with 4 intensity levels
  • Offers acupuncture, deep tissue, cupping, combo, and foot massage.
  • Adjustable timer from 10 to 60 minutes
  • A rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack
  • Supplied with 5 pairs of electrodes

Cons

  • Unable to change the intensity levels simultaneously in both channels
  • According to some consumer reviews, it doesn’t include a belt clip.

What we like!

  •  Post-exercise relief for athletes
  • Good for people with arthritis
  • Good muscle stimulator
  • Approved by the FDA

Next up is the iReliev  TENS + EMS system that combines two different therapies in one device.

Moreover, it offers eight different massage setting for TENS to relieve arthritis and pain and six modes for EMS like muscle recovery, endurance, strength, and exercise warm-up.

Not only that, but it can also be used for post-exercise recovery rehab for athletes. According to some consumer reviews, it can also run four different massage modes simultaneously in different pods.

The iReliev Tens unit is wireless and works using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can work non-stop for 5-10 hours on remote with 3-5 pods.

In addition to that, the control has a back-lit display for higher visibility and can deliver medical-grade output strength of 80mA.

Initially, the iReliev premium TENS EMS unit comes with 2 standard pods that can be used 30 times each, a handheld device, 2 batteries, an adapter, a carrying case, and a user manual.

The treatment time can be set for up to 60 minutes with 5-minute increments while the pods can work independently or in conjunction with each other.

Lastly, this TENS + EMS device is lightweight, portable, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is also met with good consumer reviews.

Pros

  • Eight modes for pain relief
  • Comes with 2 wireless pods for the body
  • Can run 4 different massage modes simultaneously
  • Powered by a rechargeable lithium battery
  • Back-lit display for better visibility
  • A medical-grade output of 80mA

Cons

  • According to some reviews, the stickiness of the pods doesn’t last long.
  • People also complained about faults in the remote.

What we like!

  • Comes with a convenient carrying case.
  • Lightweight and portable design
  • Offers both TENS and EMS therapy programs

Now we’ll review a customer favorite, the Nursal  TENS Unit. This wireless unit is fitted with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with an indicator.

Moreover, this device is designed to offer relief to your waist, ankles, back, knee, elbows, and shoulders against chronic pain. It also has an EMS feature.

It offers sixteen different TENS/EMS modes such as kneading, beat, cupping, acupuncture, scraping, tai chi, and more. These massage modes can work with 20 different intensity controls for the best pain relief.

Additionally, it comes with a USB cable, 2 sets of wires, a user manual, a pad holder, a controller, and a pouch.

It also has 4 medium pads, 2 small pads, and 2 large pads for a larger surface area that can treat six different pain points simultaneously.

Not only that, but it can work wonders for people who suffer from shoulder pains, back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, sciatica, shin splints, and fibromyalgia.

Lastly, it has options for one dual-channel and one quad-channel output using lead wires.

Pros

  • Good for back pain, shoulder, knee pain, elbow, ankles, and knee pain
  • Offers one dual-channel and one quad-channel output
  • Comes with eight electrode pads
  • Offers 16 modes with 20 adjustment levels
  • Can treat different areas simultaneously with different techniques
  • Fitted with wireless rechargeable lithium-ion batteries

Cons

  • According to some consumer reviews, it doesn’t have clear instructions
  • Heart patients can not use the device

What we like!

  • Fitted with knobs to control the device
  • Dual-channel output for 4 electrode pads
  • Comes with a protective hard carry case

Number 4 on our list is the TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit. This is another high-tech, lightweight, and portable system capable of providing exceptional pain relief.

It comes with a standard controller, 2 pairs of leads, one 9-volt battery for power, and 4 packs of electrode pads, all supplied in a secured hard carry case.

Moreover, this device is good for relieving joint, neck, and back pain as well as relaxing muscles. It has five different massage modes, including burst, normal, modulation, strength-duration 1, and strength-duration 2.

In addition to that, the intensity settings can be controlled via two knobs at the top. It also has dual channels, and each channel is capable of operating 2 electrode pads.

Furthermore, the device works by transmitting impulses through the electrode pads into your skin, and each therapy treatment option can last up to 60 minutes with timed increments.

Lastly, this  TENS machine has an easy-to-use interface that everyone can operate. It also comes with a one-year limited manufacturer warranty.

Pros

  • Adjustable intensity levels from 0-100 mA
  • Comes with a one-year limited warranty
  • Four self-adhesive, multi-use electrode pads included
  • Good for back pain, joint pain, back pain, or muscle relaxation
  • Powered by a 9 volts battery pack
  • Offers 5 therapy massage modes for pain relief

Cons

  • According to some consumer reviews, the quality is not that great
  • The battery power doesn’t last long

What we like!

  • Convenient back-lit display
  • It is approved for OTC home use
  • Independent controls for the 2 channels

The professional-grade Easy@Home Rechargeable TENS Unit packs several useful features to help relieve your sore muscles.

It offers pulse intensity that is not only suitable for relief and relaxation but can also be used for muscle management, especially for athletes and people who work out regularly.

Moreover, it can deliver 5 automated treatments along with three traditional modes. It can also offer different outputs from the left and right channels with 20 levels for maximum relief and relaxation.

In addition to that, the standard package includes four electrodes, a rechargeable battery with a USB cable, an instruction guide, all packed in a leather storage bag.

Furthermore, the battery can last up to 120 minutes, which means that you can have long relaxing massage sessions in increments.

The remote control has easy-to-use buttons and a convenient backlit LCD display screen. It is also FSA eligible and approved for OCT home use as a pain-relieving therapy device.

Pros

  • The battery can last for 120 minutes.
  • Comes with three automated modes and five preset ones
  • Offers 20 levels of intensity settings for each mode
  • Comes with a leather storage bag
  • Offers muscle management for athletes
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery

Cons

  • Not suitable for people with a heart condition
  • According to some consumer reviews, the battery doesn’t last long.

What we like!

  • Offers sensory nerve stimulation physical therapy
  • The TENS electrode pads can last up to 45 uses.
  • Can work properly for up to 10 hours on a single charge

Next up is the Auvon Dual Channel TENS Unit. This device can activate your pain gate mechanism by stimulating your sensory nerves for optimal relaxation.

Moreover, it offers two independent controls that let you choose from a variety treatment options with different intensity levels.

It can offer pain relief and fatigue in your lower back, upper back, waist, knee, elbow, neck, and shoulders with variable intensity levels.

Additionally, it offers 20 different treatment options, including acupuncture, tapping, kneading, shiatsu, hammering, and many more for effective full-body relaxation.

The package includes a controller, lead wires, charging cable, pad holder, 6 small and large TENS reusable electrode pads, and a convenient carry pouch.

Furthermore, it is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery that can deliver 10 hours of continuous usage, so you can relax any time you like with ease.

Not only that, but the controller has a large display screen with big buttons that make it user-friendly.

Lastly, the whole package comes with a 12-month limited manufacturer’s warranty along with helpful and friendly customer service to solve all your issues.

Pros

  • Independent mode control for different channels
  • Preset treatments offer kneading, hammering, and shiatsu
  • Can relieve back pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain
  • Smaller electrodes for knees and elbows
  • Comes with a 12-month warranty
  • Best for people with a hectic schedule
  •  

Cons

  • According to some consumer reviews, it doesn’t come with clear directions
  • Doesn’t offer a high-quality build

What we like!

  • Comes with a small carry bag for portability
  • Convenient backlit screen
  • Good muscle stimulator
  • User-friendly remote control
  • Offers pain relief for back pain

Now we’ll review another device by TechCare, the Pro24 TENS unit. This unit combines  TENS and EMS techniques to deliver lower voltage pulses that stimulate your nerve fibers to block the pain and provide relaxation.

Moreover, it offers 24 pre-programmed physical therapy techniques, including foot massage, acupuncture, cupping, deep tissue, combo, and many more.

Not only that, you can select from 20 different intensity settings using the ‘-/+’ buttons on the controller.

The device is fitted with a built-in lithium-ion battery pack that can last for 20 hours per charge and offers 20-minute increments in your sessions.

Furthermore, the package includes a controller, electrode cables, pad holder, USB charging cable, a user guide, and 6 electrode pads of different sizes, all packed in a portable carry bag.

Not only that, but the controller has easy-to-use buttons, has a user-friendly backlit screen, and can connect up to 4 electrodes for a single session. All of this comes with a lifetime warranty with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Adjustable for up to 20 levels
  • 20 hours of battery use with increments of 20 minutes
  • Offers 24 different pre-programmed massage mode
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • Stimulates the production of endorphins in your body
  • Can connect four electrode pads to the controller at a time

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer independent intensity setting for channels
  • It doesn’t have good electrical stimulation
  • According to some consumer reviews, the LCD screen has a poor quality

What we like!

  • Offers two different outputs
  • Fitted with a battery indicator, an adjustable timer
  • Offers pain relief for back pain.
  • Features a large LCD display

The TechCare  TENS Massager + Reflexology Shoes come with excellent features and offer great value for the money.

Moreover, this device has 6 pre-programmed treatment programs like tapping, acupuncture, deep tissue, foot, cupping, and combo that sends low-voltage electricity to your skin to stimulate the nerve fibers.

Not only that, but you can also adjust 20 different levels of intensity for a relaxing massage depending on your needs. At the same time, the rechargeable battery can last up to 20 hours.

What makes it one of the best  TENS units are the separate reflexology shoes for the foot massager that work on your pressure points to relieve pain.

The package of this device includes 1 controller, eight electrodes, USB cable, Pad holder, user manual, massage shoes and a chart highlighting the main treatment points.

Additionally, the controller comes with a large LCD display, with a battery indicator, an adjustable timer from 10-60 minutes, and two different outputs.

This massager has a variety of settings and is great for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, sciatica, shin splints, tendonitis, neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, along with another common type of back and neck pains.

Like all the other TechCare massagers, this one also comes with a limited lifetime warranty and a 14-day money-back guarantee on faulty parts.

Pros

  • Offers relief from fasciitis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and other ailments
  • Comes with 6 different pre-programmed treatment options
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery with 20 hours of usage
  • Intensity setting for up to 20 levels
  • Good for plantar fasciitis.
  • Comes with reflexology massage shoes.
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Not a very user-friendly output
  • Doesn’t have an independent mode for the two outputs

What we like!

  • A combination of EMS and TENS massages
  • Built-in rechargeable batteries that can last 10 hours
  • Recommended by healthcare professionals
  • large backlit screen with convenient display

The last one on our list is the Easy@Home Professional Grade TENS Unit. This unit combines EMS and TENS capabilities to deliver a unique experience.

It offers 8 pre-programmed massage techniques with 16 different treatment options that help in releasing endorphins that act as natural painkillers.

Not only that, but you can also switch the intensity levels from 0 -20 depending on your requirements. It also offers a built-in timer that, by default, offers 20 minutes of massages, but it can be changed from 10-60 minutes with automatic shut-off.

This handheld, portable, travel-friendly device is fitted with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a 10-hour run time. It also has a large clear, backlit screen and can offer 2 independent outputs to use different TENS programs simultaneously.

Furthermore, this unit is specifically designed to target sore and stiff muscles along with chronic pain in the lower back, waist, hand, arms, wrist, and joints while also stimulating blood circulation in your lower body part without prescription drugs.

Pros

  • Offers 2 independent channels
  • Comes with 8 massage types with 16 EMS and TENS modes
  • Adjustable 20 intensity levels
  • 10 to 60minutes sessions with automatic shut-off
  • Compact, lightweight, and portable 
  • Maintains your blood pressure

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer good electrical stimulation
  • Not suitable for people with a heart condition

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.

What is the difference between a TENS and an EMS unit?

A.

EMS stands for Electronic Muscle Stimulation. It comes under the umbrella of electrotherapy that sends electrical impulses to reduce sores, offer pain control, and increase muscle strength.

TENS, on the other hand, means Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. These TENS units work by stimulating your nerves, releasing endorphins which are natural pain relievers to rehabilitate sore muscles.

In simple terms, TENS and EMS devices use different methods. One is to relieve chronic pain, while the other is for muscle growth.

Q2.

Can you overuse a TENS unit?

A.

Yes, you can overuse a  TENS machine. A lot of the time, if the intensity is too high or if you’ve been using the device for too long, it can result in muscle twitching, among other side effects.

In that case, immediately cease using the device and allow your muscles to relax before starting again, ensuring that the intensity is low.

Q3.

Will Medicare pay for the TENS unit?

A.

Yes, the TENS unit is covered by Medicare only if used to replace drugs dealing with acute postoperative pain resulting from old age or from an injury. If you’re a patient, you need to first consult with your healthcare professional to determine whether you’re eligible or not.

Q4.

Do TENS units build muscles?

A.

TENS units are not designed to tone or strengthen muscles. Instead, they are designed to contract muscles to relieve pain.

Q5.

Which TENS machine is the best?

A.

The TechCare Massager + Reflexology is a powerful Tens machine that offers pain relief in your muscles as well as in your feet.

It also features multiple power levels for the best soothing experience.

Q6.

Do TENS machines actually work?

A.

While TENS machines are not a permanent solution to chronic muscle pain, they can provide temporary relief that may promote healing with prolonged use. These machines have the advantage of being a good alternative choice for a wide range of treatments.

TENS Unit Buying Guide

How to use a TENS unit

These transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machines are used for medical purposes to stimulate blood flow in different areas.

Therefore, you need to read the instruction guide, especially the precautions. If you have any confusion, consult with a physician.

Usually, TENS muscle stimulators are operated in the following manner:

  • Before turning on the power, place the electrode pads on the painful areas of your body
  • Start the device keeping it on the lowest intensity
  • Select the appropriate massage modes or select between a variety treatment programs for dual channels
  • Once you’re happy with your choice of massage technique, gradually increase the intensity levels per your liking
  • Set the timer between 10-60 minutes.
  • Now relax and enjoy your massage.
  • Once you’re done, turn off the device before removing the pads or else you can be electrocuted.

Things to keep in mind

  • You should always avoid putting the pads on your mouth, nose, throat, and temples.
  • You should also avoid placing them on sensitive areas such as your heart or swollen and wounded areas.
  • Always avoid touching the surface of the pad as it decreases the adhesiveness.
  • Do not stick the pads on your clothes. Otherwise, you’ll see a reduction in their performance.
  • To make the pads stick properly, add a few drops of water on the surface for conditioning.
  • Always make sure that the battery is fully charged. If you operate the device on a low battery, it can cause damage.
  • Make sure that your skin is clean before placing the pads
  • Keep in mind to put the pads on the holder for longer life.
  • To prevent the wires from breaking, always remove them after use and properly store them.
  • Ensure that you store the TENS device with care in a cool and dry place to avoid any internal damage.
  • If the electrodes do not work anymore, you can simply purchase replacement pads.

Types of Pains that can be Relieved with a TENS unit

TENS units can treat multiple pains by blocking the pain signals from reaching your brain. Examples include:

Plantar Fasciitis

This causes inflammation in your feel along with intense pain.

TENS therapy machines that feature foot massage options are good in combating plantar fasciitis.

Tendonitis

Tendons are thick fibrous cords that attach the muscle to the bone, and tendonitis is the condition that causes inflammation and irritation in the tendon. These are a lot more common in shoulders, knees, heels, and wrists.

TENS devices are made to stop inflammation and irritation and are good for combating tendonitis.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This syndrome is a form of pain caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve and can lead to pain and numbness, weakness, and tingling in your arms and hands.

Dual output machines can easily offer pain relief for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Migraines

Migraines are a type of headache that is characterized by throbbing pain on one side of your head. These can induce nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and muscle ache.

Since TENS systems stimulate nerves, they can quickly relieve migraines.

Sciatica

This pain occurs in your sciatic nerve that travels from your lower back to your legs and mostly affects one side of your body.

A TENS device can help by blocking the pain signal due to back pain from reaching your brain.

Nerve Pain

This type of pain is characterized by burning sensations. Most of the time, it goes away on its own, but it can become chronic due to nerve damage or any malfunctions in the nervous system.

Since the function of TENS therapy devices is to stimulate the nerves, that’s why it is quite effective in battling nerve pain.

Neuropathy

This is an advanced stage of nerve pain in which the affected nerves can cause numbness, muscle weakness, and chronic pain. They most commonly occur in your hands and feet but can also affect other body parts as well.

TENS systems are good for providing relief to people suffering from neuropathy.

Fibromyalgia

This is a disorder in your muscles due to lack of sleep, fatigue, memory loss, and mood disorders. This affects the way your spine and brain react to painful and non-painful pulses sent by the different parts of your body.

TENS therapy systems are quite effective in combating fibromyalgia and offering relaxation.

Tennis Elbow

This condition occurs when the tendons in your elbows are overloaded due to the constant motion of the wrists or the arms. This can feel quite painful, especially if you frequently do physical labor.

Manufacturers claim that their TENS units are effective in reducing tennis elbow. However, the devices are not very successful in this regard.

Arthritis

This is the swelling of the joints, particularly the knee. The main issues associated with arthritis are joint stiffness and pain, and they generally increase as you age.

Many  TENS units claim to offer relief to patients who have arthritis.

Muscle Spasms

These are also known as muscle cramps when your muscles involuntarily contract and are unable to relax. Many TENS units have proven to be effective in relieving these spasms and muscle atrophy.

Features of a TENS device

Power Source

A portable TENS unit wi a wireless battery power is the best option considering it allows you to move about and work with ease.

Therefore, the system must have a good and long battery range. Commonly a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is used that is built-in and can offer a battery range from 5-20 hours on a single charge.

Electrode Pads

Electrode pads are mainly used to send electric waves to your skin with the press of a button, which causes a pleasing sensation.

These pads come in different sizes and shapes. However, the majority of them are rectangular.

The adhesive layer is mostly made from gel, but the outer surface is plastic. These pads offer plenty of flexibility, and they can easily stick to different areas of your body, such as the back, hip, wrist, or shoulder.

One advantage of these pads is that once they stop working, you can simply order more placement pads with ease.

Display

This is an important aspect of the TENS unit. This screen is responsible for tracking your usage, allowing you to select modes, indicating the battery power, and access other controls.

That is why the screen must be easy to use; otherwise, it will cause a lot of confusion to the end-user during operation.

Intensity

Variable intensity settings make the body massage more soothing.  TENS units commonly offer intensity type on a scale of 1-20 for pain management.

However, you should keep in mind that an extremely high-intensity level for prolonged periods can cause twitching and make the muscles contract which isn’t a good thing.

So always run your machine at moderate levels for the best massage experience.

Modes

The most important feature of any massage device is the modes it can offer, and the TENS units are no different.

For example, the machines can offer somewhere from 5 to 20 modes depending on the price range. So you can easily pick the one that suits your needs.

Outputs

If you require different types of massages with different intensities on the different body part, you might want to invest in a TENS therapy device that can offer independent dual outputs.

It is a common feature in newer models, but it may not be available in previous versions.

Timer

An adjustable timer is an important feature of a TENS massager because it lets you control the length of a massage session.

Most devices have the option to adjust the timer with 5-minute increments and automatic shut-off so you can take a nap without worrying about overuse.

Portability

These days most of the devices are lightweight and small in size. That’s why you can pack your TENS devices in your bag and take them with you for impromptu massage sessions.

Conclusion

We hope that this review of the best  TENS unit can help you pick the most suitable TENS machine to relieve body pains and lead a more fulfilling life.