Welcome to the only TENS unit buyer’s guide you ever need to consult. This guide contains a wealth of information about devices for electrotherapy including how TENS devices work and their many benefits.
Take advantage of detailed TENS unit reviews and TENS unit ratings resulting from hundreds of hours of research and evaluation of dozens of models.
Top 5 Bestseller TENS Unit
After reading this guide, you can choose the correct unit for your condition, lifestyle, and budget. You will learn which is the top rated TENS unit for back pain, which is the best TENS unit for home use and so on. We show you where to find TENS units for sale at the best price.
Best TENS Unit Reviews
If you need a home or personal TENS unit right now, then we highly recommend the truMedic TM-1000PRO Deluxe TENS Unit for Pain Relief.
This unit is small, lightweight and so easy to use. The buttons and clear LCD display together provide astonishingly easy operation. The display indicates battery level, selected treatment mode, the intensity of each channel and a countdown timer. Five one-touch buttons select pre-installed programs for back, shoulder, joint, leg or hand/foot treatments.
Each of the two channels have separate controls for stimulation intensity. Supplement treatments with Beat, Knead or Massage patterns at the touch of a button.
Four electrode pads connect via two cables with 360-degree plugs that reduce tangles. Weighing under five ounces, this unit is completely portable and unobtrusive. It includes a Li-Ion rechargeable battery for power.
If you want to jump-start your TENS education, begin with the following TENS unit comparison chart.
FDA cleared OTC HealthmateForever TENS unit HM6G
- Easy-to-read big LCD display
- Adjustable program timer
- Instructions need improvement
The HealthmateForever electrotherapy TENS/EPM machine is ideal for relief of pain in the back, neck, elbows, knees, hips, hands and feet. It treats symptoms for a number of conditions including tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, arthritis, plantar fasciitis and so on. Its generously-sized LCD screen and simple controls make it one of the easiest TENS/EPM machines to use. Its rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides up to 10 hours of continuous use. You have full control over your pain relief routine with 20 levels of intensity and a 10-to-60 minute program timer. This is an FDA 510K cleared OTC medical device and comes with a lifetime warranty.
The HealthmateForever HM6G is a powerful unit. Although the translated instructions stink, its operation is easy to understand. Choose from one of six massage programs and an intensity level. I appreciate the power of the HM6G when I need to blast the first hint of plantar fasciitis. This unit is bigger and heavier than most handheld TENS units.
This TENS unit gets right down to business with a big screen, easy-to-use controls and plenty of juice for any pain relief regimen. It is bigger than other units, but fits in a pocket easily. It is not fancy, but will do any job you ask of it.
Lifetime Warranty FDA cleared HealthmateForever TENS unit Pro8AB
- Easy-read backlit LCD control screen
- Independent dual channels save time
- Can only change intensity on each channel, not the mode
The Pro-8AB is a very capable electrotherapy device that provides eight modes pain relief for back, neck, joint, shoulder, leg, arm, hands and feet resulting from strain, injury, inflammation or fibromyalgia. It is also one of the easiest TENS/EMS machines to operate with a big, backlit LCD screen and a simple toggle control. It features independent dual channels to customize pain management routines on different areas of the body. This is an FDA cleared Class II OTC device and comes with HealthmateForever’s lifetime guarantee.
The dual-channel feature of this HealthmateForever TENS unit is a big deal. Although you cannot select a different massage mode for each channel, channel intensity is totally under your control. It works great on my lower back plus one shoulder simultaneously. Like other TENS units from HealthmateForever, the higher intensity levels, up to 9, really have some kick. I love the acupuncture massage mode which actually produces the same sensation as an acupuncture treatment.
This unit is another well-built, FDA-approved device from HealthmateForever. The dual-channel feature is a huge plus. If you need to work more than one area at a time, that feature alones saves tons of valuable time. With the lifetime warranty, you cannot go wrong.
truMedic TM-1000PRO Deluxe Tens Unit for Pain Relief
- Completely independent dual channels
- Easy push-button use with no-jargon labels
- Clearly labeled status on bright LCD screen
- Zipper case too small to hold the unit and all accessories
This new unit from truMedic is designed for versatility and fast pain relief. Dual channels with 20 power levels, easy-to-understand controls and a simple, bright LCD screen make the truMedic TM-1000PRO a pleasure to operate. Sessions can last up to two hours to obtain full relief from muscle/joint strain or inflammation in knees, elbows, calves, back, shoulder, neck or any other body area. It weighs less than five ounces and includes a built-in Li-Ion battery. So, you can take it anywhere and use it throughout all your daily activities.
This was the first TENS unit I bought. It is dead simple to figure out how to use it by yourself even without the well-written manual. All modes are clearly labeled and selected by individual buttons. Intensity is set by push buttons. The small, but clear backlit LCD screen gives you instant feedback on all actions. The side-mounted, 360-degree swivel electrode plugs are tangle-free. Just choose an auto-procedure and one of three massage modes and enjoy. Note the biggest advantage of this TENS unit: auto-procedures, massage mode and intensity settings can be customized for each channel.
Besides being smart-looking, lightweight and easy to set up and use, the TM-1000 PRO’s biggest advantage over competitors are the completely independent dual channels. The build screams quality and it comes at a value price, so there is only one rating possible: 5 out of 5.
Tens Handheld Electronic Pulse Massager Unit
- Battery operated provides complete portability
- Three massage modes: Beat, Knead and Massage
- No adjustment for program duration
This EPM machine from Santamedical provides six pre-programmed routines plus three separate massage modes. Its dual-channel design with separate intensity controls for each pair of pads lets you work two body areas at once. It operates from four AAA batteries. These units are FDA approved and recommended by doctors as one of the best handheld EPM units available. Santamedical offers a 100 percent money back guarantee with each device.
The Santamedical LFM-110 is lightweight, portable and the four AAA batteries provide about 12 hours of massage. The generous, five-foot electrode cables allow placement of each pair on distant parts of your body. Six programs and three massage modes provide 18 different treatment combinations for nearly any kind of pain in muscles and joints. The program timeout is only 15 minutes and not adjustable. My favorite mode was Beat, which provides a half-second pulse at one beat per second.
For convenience and portability, the LFM-110 is a great TENS machine. Its power is impressive for such a small unit. It is completely portable and affordable, which explains its high popularity.
truMedic PL-009 TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager
- Lightweight but powerful
- Easy to understand controls and display
- Two channels
- Program, massage mode and intensity same for both channels
- No in-unit recharging of batteries
The PL-009 is truMedic’s brings a hard stop to muscle stiffness, soreness, stress and nearly any type of acute or chronic pain without drugs or side effects. This TENS/EPM massager is their simplest unit, but comes with advanced features. It provides delightful electrotherapy procedures that stimulate muscles and nerves to produce pain relief or relaxation anytime, anywhere.
Weighing just 5.3 ounces with a credit card footprint, it has enough power for a thorough electro-massage on your lower or upper back, shoulders, legs, arms, neck, hands or feet. Simply select one of five auto-stimulation programs, a massage mode, adjust pulse speed and intensity and let it do its work. It is FDA approved and comes with four AAA batteries.
Just as easy to operate as its bigger brother the TM-1000 PRO, the truMedic PL-009 is an effective, affordable pulse massager that can treat two areas simultaneously. The controls are well-labeled and the LCD screen provides clear status. The power levels are thumbwheel-controlled. It is not as versatile as the TM1000 PRO, since the channels are not independent and only five auto-programs are available. A few reviews have noted that the intensity is not as high as Li-Ion systems.
This is truMedics economy TENS/EPM unit. It is superficially similar to the TM-1000PRO without the power or flexibility of that unit. Still, for the money it is quite capable as a pain relief device and thus, represents a good value.
FDA cleared 510K OTC Healthmateforever HM6ML 6 mode Electronic Pulse Massager
- Ease of operation
- 20 intensity settings and six auto-modes
- No auto-programs for specific body areas
This mid-range EPM unit from HealthmateForever features a dual-output design to save time during pain management sessions. It has six auto-modes: Tunia, Acupuncture, Tapping, Guasha, Cupping and Combo. These are based on ancient Chinese therapeutic methods. The animated, backlit LCD display indicates massage mode, intensity, treatment program, treatment time and battery power level. To operate it, select a mode, one of 20 intensity levels and the session duration. As always, this HealthmateForever unit is FDA approved for OTC use and comes with a lifetime warranty.
When you open the box and see how tiny the control unit is, do not lose heart. It is quite powerful for its size. You are unlikely to use the highest intensity settings. Despite being essentially a single-channel unit, you can use it effectively over different parts of the body at once. Choose a mode and intensity and sit back and relax. It can be plugged in while recharging to extend session time. A few buyers experienced unit failures, but the HealthmateForever lifetime warranty is the real deal, so their units were promptly replaced.
The HealthmateForever HM6ML Electronic Pulse Massager packs a wallop in a small package. It offers limited control over massage plus width and frequency, but the six included modes are adequate. Overall, it is an excellent value for the price and capability.
TENS 7000 Unit 2nd Edition Muscle Stimulator
- Plenty of power and duration
- Dual channels
- Five modes to treat any symptoms
- Bit bulkier than comparable models
- Not rechargeable
This unit sells under both the Balego® and ROSCOE brand names. It was designed as an electro-stimulator for relief of pain in muscles and joints for rehabilitation programs. Its powerful 9V battery provides up to 48 hours of treatment. Included are four individual electrodes and an attractive carrying case. It is a superb TENS unit for back pain, inflamed discs or joints, shoulder tension and pain relief in inflamed areas. Not only is it safe, but also affordable, reliable, effective and easy to operate. Pulse width and frequency is adjustable via five operation modes: Burst, Normal, Modulation, Strength Duration 1 and Strength Duration 2.
Electro muscle stimulation for pain management and rehabilitation is a popular technique and the TENS 7000 is one of the most popular units for achieving results. Despite just five “modes”, pulse modulation and frequency are completely adjustable and displayed clearly. Although it is technically dual-channel, channel settings, the only independent selection is the intensity level. The adjustment buttons are protected by a swing-out cover. Overall, this is a very capable unit at an extremely affordable price.
The TENS 7000 is an upgraded version of the popular TENS 3000, which is now hard to find. The build quality is superb although it is not lightweight. It really delivers as an EMS unit, however, and at a price well around $30, you could afford two.
PurePulse Electronic Pulse Massager
- Independent channel settings
- Six auto-set programs, three massage modes
- No internal, rechargeable battery
- 3-ft. electrode wires
For treating muscle stiffness, soreness and other types of muscle/joint acute or chronic pain, nothing is more convenient or safer than this PurePulse EPM unit. Its three healing settings make it the best EMS machine at the price. Two independent channels treat two areas with different stimulation and power levels simultaneously. There are six high-frequency modes tailored for waist, shoulders, joints, legs, hands and feet.
The LCD display tells you everything at a glance including the time of your session, treatment areas and massage mode and pulse settings. It is FDA approved for OTC use and comes with a full one-year warranty.
If you have never used a TENS/EMS machine before, this is an excellent introductory unit. Despite using only four AAA batteries, it outputs plenty of juice. Knead massage mode feels like an actual person’s hands on your back. It is a shame that it is not a rechargeable unit, but finding bulk deals on alkaline cells will mitigate that shortcoming. A few buyers were disappointed that the PurePulse does not penetrate as deeply as their physiotherapist’s high-priced TENS unit, but that is characteristic of EMS machines.
The PurePulse EMS is a hugely popular unit, especially among first-time TENS/EMS/EPM buyers. It is the perfect machine for acquainting yourself with this wonderful pain-relief technology. The PurePulse is effective, save and an excellent value.
iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle Stimulator for Pain Relief & Arthritis & Muscle Strength
- 14 TENS and EMS modes
- Independent, dual-channel design
- Two styles of electrode pads
- Not rechargeable
This iRelieve unit provides TENS technology for pain management and EMS capability for muscle recovery. Seven TENS modes block pain and increasing endorphin output. There is a unique TENS mode for arthritis treatment and six EMS modes that deliver massaging impulses to stimulate muscle activity and increase blood flow. Choose from 25 intensity levels and session lengths of five to 60 minutes. Dual channel design provides independent control over two body areas simultaneously. Place the supplied large pads directly on painful areas. A wider placement of smaller pads are for larger areas of treatment. Comes with three AAA batteries and a 1-year warranty.
This iReliev TENS/EMS combo unit provides pain relief and muscle conditioning capabilities, which makes it competitive with the best rated TENS unit reviewed here. The independent channels allow customized treatment to different areas at the same time. The EMS P1 setting is for muscle warm-up prior to exercise, P2-P4 are post-exercise muscle recovery modes and P5-P6 improve endurance and strength. For a price point around $90, you might expect a rechargeable unit, but it is still a great value considering the unit’s superior flexibility.
iReliev came up with an excellent design combining TENS pain relief and muscle conditioning EMS. Use it for supplementing exercise routines or dealing with post-exercise stiffness or soreness. Power and flexibility are impressive, but we wish it were rechargeable.
ZT15AB 15 Mode Portable HealthmateForever Mini Handheld
- TENS/EMS with combined 75 auto-programs/massage modes
- Two independent pair-wise output channels
- BeltPlus waist belt for lower back and waist stimulation
- Not rechargeable
When you compare TENS units, you may still feel that any single model from our TENS unit reviews above is not a perfect fit. In that case, the ZT15AB from HealthmateForever may do the trick.
This machine certainly does it all. It is a TENS and EMS machine that combines 15 auto-programs with five massage modes, 30 intensity levels, four output channels and eight electrode pads. It also comes with a BeltPlus waist belt that rhythmically stimulates waist and lower back muscles for a relaxing, toning massage.
Surprisingly, with all that capability it is not a budget buster. It is priced around $60 on Amazon. Naturally, this FDA cleared Class II OTC comes with HealthmateForever’s lifetime warranty.
The ZT15AB is a personal favorite among the devices reviewed here because of its incredible versatility, performance and affordable price. This machine cuts treatment time in half with four channels and eight pads. Channel 1-2 and channels 3-4 are independently adjustable with 30 intensity levels.
Fifteen pre-programmed modes cover specific areas: neck, should, back, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, wrist, feet and hands. Whereas most TENS units provide three massage modes, this one has five: Scraping, Cupping, Tapping, Knead and Acupuncture. In total, you have 75 combinations of programs/modes available.
Twenty-minute default sessions are adjustable from five to 80 minutes. It is an easy-to-read, easy-to-control unit with a big LCD display and toggle control. Its only minor drawback is it lacks an internal Li-Ion rechargeable battery.
It should be no surprise that this unit gets 5 stars all around. It has double the pads of other TENS or EMS units, dual channels, 75 program/mode combinations plus that comfortable, effective waist belt. At around $60, this is the highest value TENS unit we have ever reviewed.
Benefits to TENS Users
TENS units demonstrate effectiveness in the treatment of both acute and chronic pain. Regular use of a TENS unit results in the reduction of many pain-related, negative effects on the body with the following positive results:
- Increased concentration
- Reduced irritability
- Stress and anxiety reduction
- Easier physical movement
- Decreased use of pain-relief drugs
- An improved attitude and social life
- Fewer trips to the doctor
Under What Conditions Should You Not Use TENS
The following conditions are contraindications for using TENS:
- Any heart condition or use of a cardiac pacemaker
- Pregnancy unless explicitly OK’d by a doctor
- Poor circulation
- Any kind of malignancy
Furthermore, TENS electrodes should never be placed on the head, the neck near the carotid artery, over broken or irritated skin, on numb areas or on varicose veins.
TENS Unit Applications
The Zewa SpaBuddy Relax – Back Pain Relief System is the best TENS unit for back pain arising from muscle overuse. It features 30 intensity levels, dual channels plus eight built-in therapeutic programs. For back pain, it is the best home TENS unit as it comes with its own support garment to fit sizes 22 to 60 inches.
Perhaps the best TENS unit for shoulder pain related to muscle strain is the 2nd edition of the TENS 7000 Balego® Dual Channel Stimulator. Its four electrodes, five operation modes – Burst, Normal, Modulation, Strength Duration 1 and Strength Duration 2 – are all you need for shoulder muscle electro-stimulation and pain management.
The best rated TENS unit for neck pain is the HealthmateForever 10 Modes Massager. It is also the best EMS machine. It features four electrodes, animated LCD display and 10 efficacious pre-programmed massages. Twenty adjustable intensity levels are available. The Li-Ion battery is recharged via AC outlet or from a computer USB port. It comes with a lifetime warranty.
For leg pain, try the best portable TENS unit around: the AccuRelief Wireless TENS Electrotherapy Pain Relief System. With no electrode wires and push-button simplicity, this is the best TENS machine for home use also. It offers 20 levels of intensity adjustment and snap-connector electrode gel pads. It is so lightweight and unobtrusive that you can easily wear it and forget it wherever you go.
The best OTC TENS unit for joint pain is the Reliev TOP-BEST TENS Massager Unit with 20 Electrode Pad Bundle. The iRelieve is one of the most versatile TENS units around. It features eight massage programs, big 2-inch by 2-inch pads, adjustable program times, dual channels with 25 separate intensity levels, and a holster.
Best TENS Unit Brands
The following are top rated or very popular TENS machine brands:
- Empi is a leading provider of devices used for pain management and rehabilitation. Their TENS units, such as the Empi St199584001 Select Tens Pain Management System are often used by professional physiotherapists.
- Omron has been making TENS units for 20 years. They offer three popular models including the compact Omron Pain Relief Pro with 10 intensity levels.
- Balego® is a Chinese TENS unit manufacturer, which sells the very popular dual-channel TENS 7000, which is also branded as the Roscoe Medical DT6070. Another popular Balego® model is the TENS 3000.
- HealthmateForever, located in Missouri, offers combination TENS and EMS devices for pain relief, relaxation and muscle toning. Their products, such as the YK15AB TENS unit, all feature lifetime warranties.
- AccuRelief TENS units focus on innovation, high portability, colorful design and affordability. They have a wireless TENS unit and an enticing, standalone, 3-channel electric foot stimulator model ACRL-5500.
- truMedic is a NY-based TENS unit maker and distributor with two models: the TM-1000PRO and the affordable PL-009 TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager, which appear in our TENS machine reviews below.
Types of TENS Units
TENS vs. EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) Devices
TENS and EMS devices are quite distinct. Both provide electro-stimulation, but a TENS unit stimulates nerves while an EMS unit is designed to stimulate muscles.
TENS uses high and low frequency current pulses in a small range around 100ma. An EMS unit utilizes cycles that induce muscle contraction and relaxation at various intensities from one to 130Mh. These cycles improve muscle blood flow while decreasing inflammation. Whereas TENS units are primarily for pain management, an EMS unit reverses muscle atrophy and retrains previously paralyzed muscles.
TENS vs. Electronic Pulse Massagers
Between a TENS units and an Electronic Pulse Massagers or EPM, the difference is often without distinction. Strictly speaking, a pure TENS unit supplies only nerve ending stimulation while the electronic pulse of an EPM causes muscle contraction as well. Many TENS units, such as the affordable Prospera Electronic Pulse Massager do both. Electronic pulse massage is different than the action of massage chairs, however. The massage in the best electric massager is mechanical, whereas the massage from the best pulse massager is electronic.
TENS for Home Use
TENS units for home use are often a bit larger, more powerful and have more wires, which might make them more obtrusive or uncomfortable for portable use. Home machines often come with long cables or back belts. For instance, the HealthmateForever TENS Unit Pro8AB 8-modes Pain Relief Electrotherapy Device, may be the best TENS home unit on the market.
Portable TENS Devices
AccuRelief portable TENS units are a favorite of folks on the go. They are lightweight and easily fit into a shirt pocket or handbag. They make a wireless system and a mini-TENS unit with only two tiny stimulation units. The unit uses a single 3V CR2032 coin battery to operate. That might be the best portable TENS unit, but the Homedics Rapid Relief Electronic Pain Relief Pad is, incredibly, even smaller.
TENS Units FAQs
What Is a TENS Unit?
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation – TENS – is an electronic therapy technique for relieving pain through the use of controlled voltage, current and pulse width of an electrical signal. The signal is produced by a TENS machine and transmitted to a patient’s skin via self-adhering electrodes. Patients have complete control over the intensity and duration of sessions. Unlike with drugs, there are no unpleasant side effects.
How Does A Tens Unit Work?
The TENS unit electrodes are placed on the skin near painful areas. The digital TENS unit produces a gentle, massage-like tingling sensation. Pain reduction occurs due to one or both of these mechanisms:
1) The voltage and frequency of the stimulation cause pain gateways in the spinal cord to close or partially close, which blocks the pain’s path to the brain. This mechanism is called sensory level stimulation.
2) The electrical impulses stimulate the body to produce its own natural pain-killers called endorphins and enkaphalins. This mechanism is known as motor level stimulation.
How to Find the Best TENS Unit for Your Needs?
Look at these factors when shopping for an electrotherapy TENS unit perfect for your needs:
The type of pain you wish to relieve
The number of pre-sets and modes available
The number of electrode pads
The number of channels
The manufacturer’s reputation
The return policy of the seller
As for the last factor, I strongly recommend buying your TENS unit on Amazon, which is why this guide links to specific products there. These are my reasons:
You are very likely to find the best price.
Amazon has absolutely the best returns policies.
The site has an extreme amount of product detail.
The detailed buyer reviews are invaluable.
How to Use a TENS Device?
TENS treatment may be more effective by following recommendations from a physiotherapist. In general, use the device by placing self-adhesive electrodes on either side of the painful area. Set the unit to a low setting, then switch it on. You will feel a gentle tingling.
Gradually, increase the setting, which increases the tingling sensation. If the sensation begins to feel a bit uncomfortable, back off on the intensity setting slightly. If the tingling decreases after some time, simply increase the intensity setting slowly.
Does TENS Work?
The benefit of electrical stimulation of nerves and muscles dates back to Hippocrates who used electric fish to treat gout. Benjamin Franklin also used electric shock from condensers to treat many ailments. Today, thanks to digital technology, TENS units provide precise patterns and intensities of electrical stimulation, which substantially improves the efficacy of electrotherapy in reducing or eliminating chronic and acute pain.
The multitude of success stories within buyer reviews is witness to the relief brought to so many people from a TENS, EPM, or EMS unit. Take, for instance, the woman whose back and shoulder pain prevented her from sitting through a movie or taking a long car trip to visit family. A friend recommended a TM-1000Pro TENS unit as the best TENS unit for back pain. Twenty minute sessions each day resolved her issues.
Another person battled chronic neck and shoulder pain for months. Doctors failed to provide a firm diagnosis or treatment. He was exhausted when, in desperation, he ordered the wireless AccuRelief TENS unit as a last resort. Within 20 minutes of use, 95 percent of his pain vanished. That model goes with him everywhere to provide instant pain reduction whenever it re-occurs.
While it is true that no conclusive clinical studies exist yet to prove the efficacy of TENS units, thousands of patient success stories tell a very convincing tale that these devices do indeed provide relief and improvement for acute and chronic pain without any need for expensive drugs and their unwelcome side effects.
Where Can I Buy a TENS Unit?
When you complete your TENS unit comparison shopping, you will find no better place to buy than Amazon. As stated earlier, they have extensive information on each model, detailed buyer reviews and ratings plus the best prices and discounts anywhere. They also have the fastest, most cost-effective delivery options.
Best of all, Amazon has top-notch return policies and the quickest turnaround for replacement units in case you get a dud.
Making the Decision
I feel confident that these well-researched TENS unit reviews and the detailed supplemental information on this site have transformed you into a thoroughly informed TENS unit buyer. You now have a much crisper idea about which unit fits your needs.
It is now up to you to “pull the trigger” and start experiencing the relief, relaxation, and healing that a TENS unit provides. Sometimes, the hardest part is just deciding to move forward.
Are you eager to put aside pain relief drugs and expensive, time-consuming treatments? Then it is time to take charge of your pain management regimen by buying and trying a quality TENS, EMS, or EPM unit. Make the decision today and the relief begins within a day or two.