An Introduction to TENS Therapy

If you suffer with chronic pain you may have heard of or even tried TENS therapy. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the use of low voltage electrical current to relieve pain. This alternative method of pain management is carried out with a TENS unit.

What is a TENS unit?

A TENS unit is a small electrical device (usually battery powered). Standard TENS units have wires that plug into the device. These wires have self-adhesive pads (electrodes) on the end of them. The electrodes are placed on the painful area and the machine sends the low voltage electrical current through the wires and electrodes, to the body. This stimulates the nerves, which releases endorphins (natural painkillers) and provides alleviation. Other variations of the device include TENS belts, which wrap around the user’s lower back and the wireless TENS unit, which adheres to the user’s back. For more details see: These devices are effective for people with lower back pain but have their limitations as they can only be used on the lower back.

Why choose TENS therapy?

Apart from the obvious pain relieving capabilities – TENS therapy provides many benefits to the user. TENS also has a number of advantages over other treatments, these include: medication free pain relief, it’s low cost once the unit has been purchased (the only recurring costs are replacement electrodes and batteries, for non-rechargeable devices) and the convenience factor – it can be used any time and most devices are compact and portable.

Who is TENS therapy for?

TENS can benefit may people, not only those who suffer with chronic pain. It can provide welcome alleviation for acute pain as well but that’s not all. Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica can get welcome pain relief. There are certain people who should not use a TENS unit: anybody with a fitted implanted electrical device (such as a pacemaker) and those who are pregnant (apart from during labor) are two examples. If you are considering TENS therapy you should consult with a medical professional or your doctor prior to using a TENS unit, to check that it’s right for you.

Is EMS the same as TENS?

So many people get confused here. They think that electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is the same as TENS. This is incorrect. Where TENS stimulates the nerves to relieve pain, EMS stimulates the muscles and makes them contract. EMS is used for strength training and muscle building, as well as during rehabilitation from injury. There are a number of devices on the market that have both TENS and EMS, however, they are considerably more expensive than units that only have TENS capabilities.

Choosing a TENS unit

If you are looking to buy your own TENS unit, do the research first. Don’t just go and order the first unit you see because there’s a great promotional video telling you how incredible it is! Read TENS unit reviews and get familiar with some of the top-rated machines. Find out the pros and cons for each of these devices and determine which will suit you best. For further information and to read TENS unit reviews visit: