You may have heard a lot about TENS units or perhaps you’ve just discovered the therapy and want to know more.
Chances are what you really want to know is whether the therapy actually works?
With more and more research proving the effectiveness of the treatment, the simple answer is, yes it does!
Take a look below at 20 proven TENS unit benefits:
1: Drug-free Natural Pain Relief
One of the major benefits of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is that it’s a natural and effective form of pain relief with little or no known side effects.
A systematic review of research in 2014 found that overwhelmingly TENS was proven to treat both acute and chronic pain.
It’s often chosen as a treatment by those who are looking for a drug-free option to avoid the known negative side effects of taking pain medication.
For example, a longitudinal study published in 2015 looked at how the side effects of medication can influence a patient’s daily activities.
It demonstrated the alarming impact on a patient’s abilities to achieve simple tasks.
Findings led researchers to recommend that physicians need to balance the impact of the side effects of the medication with the relief from pain before prescribing.
2: Produces Endorphins
Endorphins are our body’s natural painkillers.
They are essentially hormones that exist in the brain, that are released when the body experiences any sort of stress.
Endorphins act as transmitters, creating a feeling of ecstasy and wellbeing which in turn helps to reduce pain signals.
Natural ways to release endorphins include music, sex, chocolate and group exercise.
The UK’s NHS also recognizes that TENS helps! Electrical impulses are thought to stimulate the production of endorphins.
This short film from neurotech explains how the process works:
Research shows how important endorphins are in pain management, which is one of the reasons why TENS is thought to be such an effective form of relief.
3: Decreases Pain Signals to the Brain
Studies have proven that a TENS device can help to decrease or block pain signals traveling to the brain, providing users with the relief they crave.
When you look at the science behind how a TENS unit actually works, you can see how the machine stimulates the nerves. It’s this stimulation that is thought to keep the pain signals from reaching the brain.
If you want a machine for pain relief, then the iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Muscle Stimulator is worth a look.
After testing the device for many months, we found it so simple to use, with the wireless pods meaning you can easily treat anywhere on your body.
In fact, in our roundup of the best TENS units on the market, we gave this device the number one spot.
Plus with this machine, you get all the advantages of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).
It offers different benefits to TENS therapy, and is ideal if you want to build muscle.
Watch the video below to see a quick summary of the features:
4: Retrains Your Nerves
As well as helping to manage pain, it is also thought that over time a TENS machine can actually retrain the nerves, even for those suffering from nerve damage.
Chiropractors feel that the treatment, if conducted over an extended period of time, can change the behavior of the nerve and stop it from sending pain signals to the brain.
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5: Reduces Inflammation
Though research is still limited, studies have shown that TENS is powerful when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Researchers can’t confirm exactly how it manages to achieve this, however a study on pro inflammatory cytokines did find it to be effective.
6: Control over Your Treatment
A TENS unit provides you with complete control over your treatment, unlike pain medications where it isn’t always possible or feasible to simply increase or reduce the dose if it isn’t working.
Depending which device you choose, you’re provided with a range of different intensity settings and modes to target the pain, it’s simply a case of finding the right TENS machine for your needs.
- It’s important to note however, when shopping for a TENS unit, that the number of intensity settings doesn’t relate to the power of the machine.
When users speak about chronic daily pain, they often speak of the frustration they feel in terms of having no control over their condition.
User feedback suggests that TENS offers that control, helping with the psychological impacts of day to day pain management.
7: Effective for Different Conditions
TENS therapy has been shown through research to be powerful for a wide range of different conditions. In particular for back pain, as well as the many different forms of arthritis.
Lesser known uses for a TENS machine include help for those suffering from urinary incontinence, as well as mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
A study published in the Journal of Mid-Life Health looked at women suffering from idiopathic pelvic pain.
Results showed that TENS can be an accessible intervention, with significant improvements seen in pain scores. In fact, two patients reported being completely pain free following TENS therapy.
8: Few or No Side Effects
One of the many reasons that the NHS suggests TENS for managing pain is because they are found to have little or no side effects.
Side effects from overuse have been reported, so you should always follow the manufacturer guidance.
Plus you should always speak to a medical professional before starting treatment so they can advise on correct usage.
PRO TIP – Don’t forget to check for latex-free pads if you have a latex allergy!
9: Effective Complementary Therapy
The nature of a TENS unit (non-invasive, little or no known side effects) makes it an excellent complementary therapy to more intensive treatments.
Recent research has shown that it can help cancer patients going through chemotherapy, providing patients with some level of control over their pain.
10: Suitable for Chronic and Acute Pain
TENS is amazingly found to be good for both chronic and acute pain.
Health professionals typically recommend it as a natural therapy for pain, however there is still evidence that it can be a great treatment for acute pain conditions.
11: Mimics Massage
As well as providing effective pain relief, a number of TENS units also come with massage programs.
This allows you to enjoy the effects of a relaxing massage as well as target your pain.
TechCare’s Plus 24 is a great example of this, with program names that have been derived from massage techniques such as kneading, Swedish and scraping.
A TENS machine is a non-invasive way to manage your pain.
Electrodes are attached to the body and can be moved to target the source of the discomfort, making it a low risk treatment option.
However you should still speak to your health professional before commencing treatment.
13: Use at Home
If you suffer from daily pain, a treatment option you can use in the comfort of your own home is certainly desirable and an obvious benefit.
You can pop on your TENS machine and get comfortable in your favorite chair or attach it while doing your day to day activities around the house.
TENS devices are also small, meaning they don’t take up much room in your home or your bag!
Other pain relief products, such as those recommended for treating back discomfort, can be a little more hefty.
Inversion tables or massage chairs require you to make room in your home, whereas a TENS machine can simply be stored away in a drawer.
As well as being small, TENS units are also portable.
Anyone suffering from daily pain knows that you need treatment not just in the comfort of your own home but while out of the home, too.
With a TENS machine being small and discreet they’re easily transported while out and about.
They can also be worn outside of the home, with certain accessories including shoes and socks, meaning you can receive treatment discreetly while on the move.
PowerDot Duo 2.0 is probably the most portable TENS unit on the market!
Instead of controlling your treatment with a handheld device, you control the specially designed pods from an app on your smartphone.
Watch the video below to see the PowerDot in action:
TENS units can be worn and used discreetly whether you’re at home or work, making it a realistic daily treatment option.
You can even invest in a completely wireless unit such as the aforementioned iReliev Wireless TENS and EMS Muscle Stimulator, which has no wires running from the controller so can be worn without anybody knowing.
17: Simple to Use
TENS machines are simple to use, even in the stress of labor users reported a positive experience.
It’s important to shop around to find one you can operate easily, however it is felt that if you can operate a smartphone you’ll have no problem using a TENS unit.
TENS can be an affordable treatment option, which is the reason many people select it as a complementary therapy.
In fact, when users speak about the treatment they often mention affordability compared to a physiotherapist or expensive equipment such as a massage chair.
The cost of a TENS unit varies widely however typically it costs between $20 and $200 depending on the specification.
An example of a great low cost TENS device, is the Omron Pocket Pain Pro.
Less than $50 gets you three TENS programs and two massage modes. It’s not wireless like competitor devices but it still has the power to offer the relief you’re looking for.
To see a little more about the features of the device, watch the video below:
19: Long-term Use
Unlike certain painkillers and invasive treatments, a TENS unit is a good long term option.
With little or no side effects, it can be used as a daily treatment for as long as required or sporadically depending on the nature of your pain.
20: Purchased over the Counter (OTC)
There’s no need to get a prescription for most TENS machines as they can purchased over the counter and online from a number of different outlets.
However it is still recommended that you speak to a health professional as a TENS unit isn’t suitable for all types of pain or all conditions.
For example people who have a pacemaker or suffer from epilepsy should avoid the treatment.
If you want to learn more about TENS, we’ve answered a number of frequently asked questions.