Wellness

The 7 Best TENS Unit Machines Reviewed For 2019

A TENS Unit is a small but powerful device that may provide complete but temporary relief from both chronic and acute pain.

These units are often used during occupational or physical therapy to help relax muscles, promote better blood circulation, and help relieve pain.

However, you don’t have to head to a clinic to find the same results.

For more of my recommendations, have a look through these popular Women’s Workout guide links: Handheld Massagers, Back Massagers, Neck Massagers.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best TENS Units & Muscle Stimulators

  1. NURSAL TENS Unit Rechargeable Pain Relief
  2. Easy@Home Professional Grade TENS Unit
  3. Roscoe Medical TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit
  4. Massage Therapy Concepts TENS Unit & EMS Combination
  5. Omron Max Power Relief TENS Unit
  6. TENStim TENS Unit & Muscle Stimulator
  7. iSTIM EV-805 TENS EMS Rechargeable Muscle Stimulator

We’ve reviewed the top rated TENS units, followed by a comparison table and buying guide to help you decide on a TENS that will work best for you.

Best TENS Units

 NURSAL TENS Unit Rechargeable Pain ReliefEasy@Home Professional Grade TENS UnitRoscoe Medical TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit
editorschoice
Power:Rechargeable Lithium-ionRechargeable Lithium-ion9-Volt Battery
Intensity Levels:2020N/A
Modes:1688
Electrode pads:844

TENS Unit Reviews

Looking for the best TENS unit? The NURSAL TENS unit is small, lightweight, and very portable. It can easily slip into your pocket to help relax tense muscles and pulse away pain even while at work.

It has 2 channels, also known as outputs, so you can target two separate areas, each with their own mode and intensity.

The fairly large LCD screen makes it easy to switch between different modes and also adjust the intensity level to suit your needs.

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You can charge the device using the USB cable and either a computer or a wall adapter.

The FDA cleared TENS unit from NURSAL uses the latest in bioelectrical technology to ensure you get the most out of the 10 hours of use you get from a single charge.

The unit will alert you to a low battery so you won’t be in the middle of a session and it shuts off. The default session time is set to 20 minutes but you can set it for as little as 10 minutes and as much as 60.

When the session is over, it will turn off on its own, saving battery life.

 

NURSAL TENS Unit Rechargeable Pain Relief at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Built-in Rechargeable Lithium-ion
  • Intensity Levels: 20
  • Modes: 16
  • # of Pads Included: 8
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: up to 60

Easy@Home Professional Grade TENS Unit

This particular Easy@Home TENS unit is specifically designed to give you the same experience you would get from a professional unit at a physical therapy clinic, but right in your own home or even on the go.

The compact size allows easy portability but still features a large screen that makes it simple to switch between modes and adjust the intensity.

Easy@Home makes it easy to take your TENS unit with you with a leather storage bag that can be stowed away in a purse, briefcase, or suitcase effortlessly.

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You can choose from any of the preprogrammed modes, 5 of which are intended to give a thorough and relaxing massage feeling and 3 that target pain.

In fact, we rated it as the best portable TENS unit out of those we tested.

With a powerful pulse, this professional grade TENS unit is great for those who suffer from chronic pain or even athletes looking for a way to relax their muscles and promote healing after tough workouts.

 

Easy@Home Professional Grade TENS Unit at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Built-in Rechargeable Lithium-ion
  • Intensity Levels: 20
  • Modes: 8
  • # of Pads Included: 4
  • Weight: 22 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 120

The TENS 7000 by Roscoe Medical has a long record of providing regular and lasting pain relief to those with both acute and chronic pain and is rated as the best TENS machine to alleviate pain.

In fact, over 1 million of them have been sold over the last few years, proving it is a quality product that makes for convenient relief.

As a dual-channel TENS unit, it functions as both a muscle and a nerve stimulator and can target two separate areas at the same time.

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If you’re feeling the burn after a particularly hard workout, you can use it as an electric massager for both your shoulders and your lower back, for example.

You have the option of choosing from several different modes, from normal to burst and from pulse massager to two versions of strength-duration.

Roscoe Medical has been in business for over 10 years and has a reputation for creating durable equipment that lasts. The TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit comes complete with everything you need to start feeling relief. Just give it a charge and feel it for yourself.

 

Roscoe Medical TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Not Rechargeable, 9-Volt Battery Included
  • Intensity Levels: N/A
  • Modes: 8
  • # of Pads Included: 4
  • Weight: 16 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 60 Minutes

The best muscle stimulator will be a unit that combines the benefits of EMS, or electronic muscle stimulation, with those of TENS therapy.

That is just what the TENS & EMS Combination Unit from Massage Therapy Concepts does for you. You get professional and prescription strength pain relief and massage in an over-the-counter and FDA approved device.

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It can even be used in conjunction with occupational or physical therapy as well as to help reach fitness goals. This small and versatile TENS unit is portable and easy to use.

Even though small in size, this TENS Unit & EMS Combination, it features a large, easy to read screen that allows you to change modes, adjust the intensity, or even control the dual-channels quickly.

In addition to the device itself, 4 lead wires with 6 pads ranging from small to extra-large, and the pad holder, you also get a chart of commonly used acupressure points to help you see maximum results.

 

Massage Therapy Concepts TENS Unit & EMS Combination at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Built-in Rechargeable Battery
  • Intensity Levels: 20
  • Modes: 12
  • # of Pads Included: 6
  • Weight: 15 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 60 Minutes

Omron has been a well-known leader in the industry of electronic medical devices and they are trusted for a very good reason: they design quality products that not only last but also give the results that consumers are looking for.

The Max Power Relief TENS Unit from Omron is the best home TENS unit and certainly lives up to the expectations and is one of their most powerful units available.

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It is only about the size of an average smartphone and comes equipped with a belt clip so it can easily be worn outside the house.

The LCD screen is very easy to read but what makes it user-friendly is the large buttons, making it also easy to operate. It comes with their patented LongLife pads that can be used up to 150 times and washed up to 10 times if done properly.

They do recommend using their own brand of replacement accessories but they’re quality and work well with the Omron TENS Unit. The pad holder makes it easy to keep the electrode pads clean and the carrying pouch makes it portable.

 

Omron Max Power Relief TENS Unit at a Glance:

  • Batteries: 2 AAA Batteries Included
  • Intensity Levels: 15
  • Modes: 9
  • # of Pads Included: 2
  • Weight: 7 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 30 Minutes

As a great muscle stimulator, the TENStim TENS Unit is the best unit for back pain as it offers the benefits of both TENS and massage therapy.

The four pads that are included can be used with the dual-channel settings, but the TENStim unit also comes with ear clips.

These can provide TENS pain relief for painful sinus congestion or even migraine headaches, and there are wire adapters for all. The LCD screen is easy to see, aided by an LED backlight.

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With options for either a silver or a black device, you get a high-quality unit that offers professional quality as well as a professional experience.

It is easily recharged with the included USB cord and wall adapter, which makes it portable enough to take to the office, the gym, or even on vacation.

This TENS and EMS combination unit carries a Medical Class II rating from the FDA and is manufactured in the US.

 

TENStim TENS Unit & Muscle Stimulator at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Built-In Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
  • Intensity Levels: 20
  • Modes: 18
  • # of Pads Included: 4
  • Weight: 16 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 60 Minutes

iSTIM EV-805 TENS EMS Rechargeable Muscle Stimulator

While all of the other TENS Units we’ve reviewed are dual-channel, targeting two areas at once, the iSTIM EV-805 TENS/EMS Combination Unit offers 4 channels.

You can target four separate areas, each with different modes and intensities. This is ideal for those with chronic, widespread pain, or for those who exercise regularly and want to speed healing and relax sore, tense muscles.

The TENS and EMS modes allow you to focus on the type of stimulation or massage that will help you the most.

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The EV-805 Combination Unit from iSTIM is the best they offer in the EV series with the most options for a customizable experience. It is easy to grip with rubber sides but also easy to take with you with a handy belt clip.

The large LCD screen features an LED backlight for quick and easy adjustments to the mode, intensity, and channels. It is FDA approved as an over-the-counter TENS device that gives professional results and the best EMS machine on our list!

 

iSTIM EV-805 TENS EMS Rechargeable Muscle Stimulator at a Glance:

  • Batteries: Built-in Rechargeable
  • Intensity Levels: 24
  • Modes: 8
  • # of Pads Included: 24
  • Weight: 20 Ounces
  • Minutes Per Session: Up to 60 Minutes

TENS Unit & EMS Comparison Table

TENS Unit PowerIntensity LevelsModesElectrode padsRating
NURSAL TENS UnitRechargeable Lithium201684.6 / 5.0
Easy@Home TENS UnitRechargeable Lithium20844.6 / 5.0
Roscoe Medical TENS Unit9-Volt BatteryN/A844.4 / 5.0
Massage Therapy ConceptsRechargeable Lithium201244.3 / 5.0
Omron TENS Unit2 AAA Batteries15924.3 / 5.0
TENStim TENS StimulatorRechargeable Lithium201844.6 / 5.0
iSTIM EV-805 TENS EMSRechargeable Lithium248244.4 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best TENS Units – Buyers Guide

best muscle stimulator
NURSAL TENS Unit Rechargeable Electronic Pain Relief Massager

TENS units, sometimes referred to as TENS machines, have been used in occupational and physical therapy clinics for decades. Over the last few years, that technology has become accessible to everyone through at-home, over-the-counter TENS devices that are just as powerful and easy to use.

However, as this technology becomes more available, it’s normal to have questions about just what TENS therapy is and how it can help you.

Let’s learn a little bit about them so you can reduce your pain symptoms or even relax sore, tired muscles after an intense workout.

What is a TENS unit?

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It means it is stimulating the nerves through the surface of the skin. It can help to temporarily relieve pain, massage tense muscles, or even just provide stress relief through regular use.

A TENS device, connected to electrode pads you place on your skin in strategic areas, sends a mild and pulsating electrical current.

It may give you a tingling, massaging feeling or you may feel like your muscles are gently contracting and releasing.

What is a TENS unit used for?

TENS therapy is used for a wide variety of ailments, from the chronic pain of arthritis to the uncomfortable cramps during menstruation.

Even the pain from severe sports injuries to the back, neck, knees, and more can be reduced, or even alleviated completely, for a temporary period of time. TENS devices that include ear clamps have been shown to help ease the pain of migraines and may help prevent them with regular use.

How does a TENS unit work?

There are two main theories surrounding just how a TENS unit is able to provide pain relief. Some believe that the mild electrical stimulation of the nerves changes how pain signals are received in the spinal cord and brain.

This tricks the brain into not feeling pain, or not feeling it as strongly. Others believe that the stimulation of nerves and muscles causes the body to produce more endorphins, which is the body’s natural version of morphine.

Whichever school of thought you fall into, it doesn’t change the results that many people feel while using them: relaxation and pain relief.

How to Use a TENS Unit

First, you should prepare the area of skin where you will be placing the electrode pads. It should be clean and dry. Then, determine the place and position of the pads.

You should have them at least 1 inch apart and on either side of the painful or uncomfortable area. There are a few places you shouldn’t place the electrodes, including the front of the neck or on the chest and upper back at the same time.

Be sure not to place the electrode pads on skin that is already irritated.

For the first time using the TENS machine, start with the normal mode and at the lowest intensity setting. Slowly adjust the intensity higher until you can definitely feel it, but it isn’t painful.

If at any point you start to feel uncomfortable, lower the setting. If you can still feel it but not as strong after a few moments, feel free to adjust the intensity level higher.

You may have to adjust the intensity level up and down during your first few uses of the unit. Once the session is over, ensure the TENS machine is turned off and remove the electrodes. If you want to stop the session early, switch the unit off before taking them off.

Are there any side effects when using a TENS unit?

The two main side effects that users experience is skin irritation due to the intensity level being too high or irritation caused by the gel on the electrode pads. Keeping the intensity tolerable or purchasing electrode pads for sensitive skin can help prevent this.

Certain people shouldn’t use a TENS unit, such as those who are pregnant or those who have a pacemaker. If you have a heart condition or other health issues, you may want to speak to your doctor before beginning TENS therapy.

Considerations For TENS Unit Machines

You know which TENS units are our favorite and now you know how they work, but how do you choose the right one for you? Consider the following 5 features of each device to determine the best for your needs.

Intensity

The goal is to have as many intensity options as possible. The intensity should also be easy to change while in the middle of a session in the event it gets uncomfortable or if you need a bit more electronic stimulation. The more available intensity settings there are, the more you can customize your experience.

Modes

You may only need a few modes, such as normal, pulse, and massage. However, many of the best TENS units like the ones we’ve reviewed for you, have many more than just these basic options. If you are looking for a specific type of TENS or EMS therapy, be sure the unit you are looking at offers it. However, you may also find the other modes helpful in the future so don’t miss out on them.

Number of Channels

All but one of the TENS units we reviewed have 2 channels. These are also known as dual-channel units. Two sets of pads will each be controlled differently by the machine.

This means you can place two pads on each knee and have different settings, or you might even have two on your lower back and two on your upper back. The iSTIM EV-805 has 4 channels which means you can target 4 separate areas, each will different settings.

best TENS machine
Roscoe Medical TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit

TENS/EMS Combinations

TENS therapy focuses o nerve stimulation and is mostly used for pain relief as well as relaxation. EMS therapy works on relaxing the muscles with gentle contractions. This can work well for those who have tight, sore muscles after intense physical activity.

While there are units that only provide TENS or EMS therapy, several of the ones we loved offer both. This can make the machine more versatile to more users.

Portability

The TENS units that also provide EMS therapy tend to be a little larger than traditional TENS units. If you will be traveling with the device, you may have limited space and want something smaller and lighter.

The units that come with a belt clip are typically light enough to wear comfortably and conveniently. How and where you intend to use it will determine which units will work best for you.

best EMS machine
iSTIM EV-805 TENS EMS Rechargeable Muscle Stimulator

FAQs About TENS Units & (EMS) Muscle Stimulators

Knowing how a TENS unit works to relieve pain and relax muscles isn’t the same as knowing how to get the most out of it. These are the most common questions that new users have about the therapy and how to use the machine itself.

Q: Can a TENS unit get rid of my pain?

A: A TENS device may reduce or get rid of your pain while you are using it and for a short time afterward. However, it is not treating the underlying cause of your pain so it will most likely return. Using the machine regularly may help keep the pain from recurring as often or keep it from getting as severe.

Q: Do I need a prescription for a TENS unit?

A: All of the products we’ve reviewed are able “over-the-counter” and can be used at home safely. While you may talk to your doctor to decide if TENS therapy will help and how best to use the unit, you do not need a prescription.

Many people find relief using a TENS machine based on the advice of friends or family, using acupressure or acupuncture points, or even at the suggestion of a physical therapist.

Q: How often can I use a TENS unit and for how long?

A: If you have the intensity level set fairly low, it will most likely help to set it for a longer session. The opposite is true for high-intensity levels, as you will only want to use it for a short time. Each option helps in a different way so depending on the benefits you are looking for, you can adjust the settings and session times.

Q: Are gels or creams necessary when using a TENS unit?

A: Many of the electrode pads are designed with a reusable gel that creates an effective electrical connection through the skin. However, it is important to take care of the reusable pads to ensure a long life.

The machines featured above all come with pads that do not require the use of gels or creams. However, if you purchase replacement pads you will need to read the care instructions to determine if they do or not.

Q: Can I use the same electrode pads as someone else?

A: Many TENS units have more than one user, such as several members of a family. It’s important not to share the reusable pads, however. The gel of each pad is very sticky and will attract skin cells as well as oils.

So as not to “share” these things, each user should have their own set of pads. Oftentimes, replacement pads can be purchased in bulk so there are enough for everyone to have their own.

Tips For Using Your TENS Unit

We have some tips for you that will help you get the most out of your new TENS unit. Do you have additional tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!

Tip #1: Use the Correct Number of Pads

For each channel you are using, whether it’s one or four, you need to have two electrode pads in place and near each other. The nerve stimulation is caused by the transfer of electrical current from one pad to the other and won’t work with just one pad.

Tip #2: Change the Distance & Direction

By changing the distance between the two pads as well as the direction they are placed on the skin, you can change the sensations you feel as well as the type and strength of the therapy. You may want to keep a log of where and how the pads were placed as well as the mode and intensity to see what settings work best for you.

Tip #3: Prepare Your Skin

It is important for the skin you will place the electrode pads on to be clean. If you have to wash the area, use warm water and a mild soap. Allow the skin to dry thoroughly before adhering the pads. You shouldn’t use lotions or oils before positioning them on your skin. Do not try to clean the area with alcohol pads or another alcohol-like solution. These can dry out the skin which can lead to unnecessary irritation during TENS therapy.

Tip #4: Keep Extra Supplies

In the event you try to position a set of pads on your skin and they don’t stick, you will want to have extras on hand. The lead wires can also become unreliable after many uses so having an extra pair or two won’t hurt. You don’t want to find out you need more of either and not be able to use the device to relieve your pain or help you relax.

Tip #5: Turn Off the TENS Unit Before Removing Electrode Pads

If there is still a current being sent to the electrodes when you remove them, it can give you a small but uncomfortable pinching sensation. If the TENS unit has an auto shut off feature, always check to be sure it is actually off before taking the electrodes off.

Find Safe Pain Relief with a TENS Unit

With so many benefits to using a TENS unit or a combination TENS and EMS unit, it’s easy to see why they are so popular. By finding the right TENS machine for your needs you may be able to alleviate your pain as well as reduce tension caused by stress.

For those who work out regularly, you can help your muscles recover faster while also easing the soreness caused by intense physical activity. Have you chosen the perfect TENS unit?

Effectiveness
Ease of Use
Value

The NURSAL is our Editor's Choice for the best TENS unit with its combination of effectiveness, ease of use and value.

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