What Is The Best TENS Unit For Pain Control

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is said to help with back pain, especially chronic pain conditions. In order to use this pain relief method, you need to have the best TENS unit possible to fit your needs. Because there are a lot of these devices available, I want to give you a guide to help you understand what they do, how they do it, and how to pick the best one from all the choices.

**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

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What Does A TENS Unit Do?

As I said above, TENS units are used for pain control, often for the back and legs. Your doctor may recommend a TENS unit if you have chronic back pain that isn’t responding well to other forms of pain management. This is not a cure for any cause of pain, but rather a way to help manage pain and try to reduce the amount of discomfort you feel on a regular basis.

How TENS Units Work

These unique devices operate using a method called the Gate Control Theory. This pain management theory suggests that your nerves cannot send pain signals to your brain if they are distracted by certain vibrations or other sensations. A TENS unit works by sending slight electrical charges into pads that will be located on the pain spot. The charges are meant to distract the nerves and keep them from being able to send out as many pain signals, thereby reducing the pain you feel.

Another theory is that the slight electric charges sent to your nerves will stimulate extra endorphin releases from the body. Endorphins are the hormones that block pain, so releasing more of them will have an effect on relieving your pain.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of strong scientific evidence to back up either method. Although it’s been in use by some since the 1960’s, every scientific study done on the TENS method has turned up mixed results. Yet, in those same studies, there were participants who felt the TENS unit did help to relieve their pain, so there is still a chance it might be able to give you some pain relief benefits.

Despite the lack of scientific certainty, there are a number of doctors who still recommend this type or treatment for relief from chronic pain. It seems to work on some types of pain better than others, so your doctor may be able to give you advice about your particular pain relief needs.

Benefits Of A TENS Unit

If you choose to use a TENS unit, here are a few of the benefits you may be able to get from it:

  • All natural, drug-free treatment

The TENS method does not use any drugs or medicinal treatments at all. Even if you have sensitivities to certain medications or drugs, you can use TENS, since there is nothing required except sticking a few soft adhesive pads on your pain point. If you’re into doing natural treatments and drug-free remedies, TENS is something you should try for your pain relief.

  • TENS units are completely non-invasive

Nothing has to be inserted, cut, pricked, poked, or anything else. The adhesive pads that stick to your skin should not be causing any physical harm to your body. They are applied gently and removed gently as well. This kind of treatment can be done on many people, even after surgeries or other medical procedures have been performed.

  • No known side effects

Although doctors have cautioned those with pacemakers and pregnant women to avoid TENS units, the average person can use this method without trouble. Because of the nature of the treatment, there are no side effects that come about from it when used properly and as recommended by a doctor. If you overuse the device, you might have some problems with it.

​How To Choose The Best TENS Unit

When you want to go and purchase a TENS unit to use on your own time, how do you know which one is the best TENS unit? A lot of these devices exist on the market, and many are offered in a similar price range. To find the top choice for you, take a look at these features of each device you consider:

  • Intensity Settings

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Different levels of pain call for a variety of different intensity settings. Having a device that you can set to match the pain you’re experiencing is much more useful than a device that’s only got one setting. Most TENS units that are adjustable use a number scale to help you easily set the intensity.

  • FDA Approval

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You shouldn’t use a TENS unit that isn’t approved by the FDA. Looking out for this will help you make sure you’re using a legitimate device with the right qualifications to do effective TENS treatments. Without FDA approval, a device might produce a similar effect, but may not actually be able to deliver the right pain relief you’re looking for.

  • Usage Limits

Even if you’re experiencing strong pains, you shouldn’t use these devices for too long each session. Many TENS units have a built-in timer to show you how long it’s been on and to automatically shut off after a certain amount of time. These settings are also usually adjustable, so you can customize the time you want to spend using your TENS unit.

  • Portability

It’s no good to have a unit that won’t be able to move around with you. Unless you only want to use it at home, finding an easily portable TENS unit will give you some flexibility for when you need pain relief. If you need help at work, traveling, or anywhere else, it’s convenient to be able to use your device without trouble. Do not use a TENS unit while driving or operating machinery.

  • Pad Compatibility

All TENS units need adhesive pads to work properly. Check how many pads are needed for your chosen device, and which types you can use. These adhesive pads will need to be changed occasionally, so it’s important to know which ones you can use when the time comes to switch them out again. The more compatible it is, the easier time you’ll have managing your TENS unit.

  • Simple Usage

When you need pain relief, you aren’t going to want to mess around with a bunch of complex settings and buttons. It’s better to find a device that’s easy to use and doesn’t have a lot of complicated features. The buttons should be easy to read and large enough to press without accidentally hitting the wrong one. There should also be fewer buttons rather than a large collection that you might mess up.

  • Combined TENS and EMS Device

Some people prefer a TENS unit that also has EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) treatment capabilities. While the TENS functions focus on your nerves, the EMS functions will also help to relax your muscles and give another form of pain relief that way. Not every unit is able to do both, but you can find quite a lot of modern devices that are capable of doing both TENS and EMS.

​Top 5 Best Wipe Warmer Reviews

1

HealthmateForever YK15AB TENS Unit and EMS

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This device has enough settings to make it easily compatible with your needs while also staying easy to use. Clearly marked buttons help you navigate the settings quickly to start your treatment and adjust it as you go. You can select the intensity from 20 levels, as well as the speed of the pulses and the time you want to use it. There are 15 different operation modes you can select from to change how it works for different body parts.

​Four adhesive pads attach to this TENS unit, so you can get relief for a larger area or more concentrated relief for a smaller area of your body. All the information you need is easily seen on the backlit LCD screen.

Pros


  • LCD screen is easy to see and read
  • Convenient buttons with clear markings
  • Wide variety of modes for your needs
  • Runs for up to 80 minutes per session
  • FDA approved
  • Also includes EMS settings

Cons


  • Uses disposable batteries, is not rechargeable
  • Intensity levels rise too fast
2

United Surgical TENS 7000 Unit

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An easily portable TENS unit, this United Surgical device uses a 9-volt battery for easy and effective operation. The set includes the device, battery, instructions, 4 adhesive pads, lead wires, and a convenient carrying case. Along with the normal TENS settings, you can also turn on the EMS mode.

There are 5 individual modes that determine how the device will produce charges. You can adjust the intensity settings directly and some of the modes have lower or higher intensity than others. Set the timer up to automatically turn off the device after a certain time, and to record the sessions you have done previously.

Pros


  • Simple to set up and start using
  • Up to 48 continuous use with the included battery
  • Complete set comes with everything you need
  • Easy to travel with this device
  • 2 separate channels allow you to adjust your experience

Cons


  • Fewer settings than some other devices
  • Some devices may be faulty and need to be replaced under warranty
3

truMEdic TENS Unit and EMS

Via Amazon.com

Here is an attractive looking device that’s got the functionality to go with its pleasing aesthetics. You can use it for a variety of different types of pain, and the TENS and EMS will work together for maximum effectiveness. You can choose between different modes made for specific body parts, and you can adjust the intensity level to match your needs.

With a weight of only 5.3 oz., this is an easy device to travel with and get your relief whenever and wherever you need it. There are 4 adhesive pads and 2 separate channels of currents.

Pros


  • Good settings for basic use around the body
  • Great for massage muscles and stopping pain
  • Small, yet effective
  • Easy to use and simple toe set up
  • Adhesive pads don’t require any gel to use them

Cons


  • Timer is limited to 15 minutes per session
  • Intensity does not get as high as with some other devices
  • Some issues of inconvenience when you want to carry it around
4

PurePulse Portable Handheld TENS unit and EMS

Via Amazon.com

Set up to help you get your treatment started quickly, this TENS + EMS unit has a few settings you can use for pain around your body. It’s small enough to travel with, and uses 4 adhesive pads attached to 2 separate power channels. This allows you to have more control over where and how you treat yourself with the device.

There are a handful of intensity settings you can adjust for a customized experience. You can also adjust how the device produces charges, letting you switch between massage, beat, and knead modes for your comfort.

Pros


  • FDA approved
  • Effective settings to help you with your treatment needs
  • Works well all over the body
  • Compatible with most self-adhering pads

Cons


  • Some people may need higher levels of stimulation
  • Does not cater to more therapeutic needs due to selective adjustability
5

Omron Electrotherapy Max Power Relief

Via Amazon.com

The large screen, small overall size, and simple buttons all add together to create the draw for this Omron TENS unit. This is a well-known brand that’s created trustworthy equipment over the years, and although this unit is a little less adjustable than some, it has a lot of great functionality. You can very easily change the intensity level and the charge distribution modes.

There are 15 different levels of intensity, a great feature for those that want a specific level of relief for different pains. Despite the power it packs, it’s still a very small unit that can be taken around anywhere and everywhere you’re going.

Pros


  • Pain relief is concentrated on 2 high-powered adhesive pads
  • Set includes everything you might need + convenience features
  • Very small and easy to carry with you
  • Works around the body

Cons


  • Each session is limited to 15 minutes
  • Cords can be faulty, and you cannot buy replacements

Conclusion

​From the TENS unit reviews above, I would like to recommend the HealthmateForever YK15AB TENS Unit and EMS. I think it’s the best TENS unit, because it has the most adjustability, it’s easy to set up, and it’s highly portable. You will have a lot of intensity settings to choose from, and the modes work well for different areas of your body that you may be experiencing pain in.

Anna Smith
 

Hi there ! I’m Anna Smith, chief editor at Healthankering. I'm a proud mother of three passionate about health tips, beauty and ways to live healthier with more energy ! We start Healthankering to provide advanced material about not only the best ways to get healthy, but also to entertain and create a great community. Welcome aboard !

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