What is TENS FAQ - General Information on TENS Units

Tens Unit Instructions, Side Effects & More

How does a TENS unit work?

Tens units have different adjustable settings to control amplitude (intensity) of stimulation by controlling the voltage as well as current and pulse width (duration) of each pulse. Electrodes are placed at specific sites on a user’s body depending on the physical location of their pain. The current travels through electrodes and into the skin stimulating specific nerve pathways to produce a tingling or massaging sensation that reduces the perception of pain. When a Tens Unit is used as directed a T.E.N.S. is a safe, noninvasive, drug-free method of pain management. A Tens Unit is used to offer a better quality of life for people with pain. There are two ways to explain how a T.E.N.S. successfully decreases or eliminates pain.

What is the difference between a TENS and EMS unit?

A Tens Unit, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can help back and neck pain that may be caused by trauma or continual strain. The body responds to such pain or injury with muscle guarding, an attempt to immobilize the painful area by tightening the muscles surrounding the injury. Muscle guarding impairs circulation in the affected area.

The decrease in blood supply leads to a decrease in metabolism with an accumulation of waste products. TENS therapy (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator) can help break this pain cycle and aid in the normal healing process.

EMS Muscle stimulators, or Electrical Muscle Stimulation are used to relieve pain, reduce spasms and edema, tone weak muscles and assist in the healing process. Known to ease muscle tension, stiffness in joints or back areas, and known for increasing motion restricted from disuse or atrophy, electronic muscle stimulation can also increase local blood circulation.

EMS Units run at intensities from 1 to 130 Mega Hertz. Where a tens unit is designed to help relieve certain types of chronic and acute pain by stimulating the nervous tissue, an EMS is designed to treat more of the muscle area than the nerves. This can help reduce swelling and muscle inflation which can have a negative effect as strained muscles can pull joints out of place.

How does an EMS unit work?

Normally when you perform an exercise, your brain sends a message through your spinal cord to nerves indicating muscles to contract. EMS neuromuscular stimulator uses electrical impulses to stimulate the nerve axons. These impulses reach the nerve axons, signaling the muscles to contract and relax rhythmically as instructed by the EMS unit. EMS electro muscle stimulator actually stimulates muscles that you cannot normally exercise voluntarily. This allows you to train muscles that may normally have little activity.

What unit would be best for me?

Check with your doctor or physical therapist to help determine what features you need to achieve the best results from TENS or EMS therapy for your particular condition. Some key features to look for in all units include battery life, controls and width control. Some less-expensive TENS units use regular disposable batteries. In many cases, the higher cost of a unit with a rechargeable battery is easily justified by the savings from recharging the unit instead of buying new batteries. High-tech machines like TENS units tend to wear out disposable batteries quickly.

Is a prescription required in order to purchase a unit?

A prescription is required by some states to own a TENS unit. You should check with your doctor to see what the laws and regulations are. We do not require a prescription to purchase ones of our units, but you may need it for your records.

Do you accept insurance?

We are not set up to accept any type of medical insurance which includes FSA debit cards. Many of our customers have been able to make arrangements for reimbursement from their insurance provider. You may want to contact your provider to see if this is an option that is available to you.


What units are FDA approved?

All Tens and EMS units are FDA approved.

Are the electrodes compatible with a unit?

Any of the electrodes should be compatible with your unit as long as they have standard connectors.

Where do i place the electrodes?

This link has an electrode placement chart which also includes electrode skin care and application of re-usable self-adhesive electrodes.

How long do the electrodes usually last?

There are many factors that can influence how long they last. For example:

• How long are these electrodes used at a time (30 minutes or 8 hours). If they are used for a couple of hours a day, we recommend using 2 sets of electrodes. Use the first set for the first day and the second set for the second day. This will give the first set about 24 hours to completely dry which will expand the usage time. Repeat these steps by rotating the 2 sets.

• If you have a lot of body hair they will not last as long as if they are placed on bare skin. If possible place them on bare skin.

• During a hot summer day you can sweat more than during a winter day. Getting the electrodes wet will shorten their usage. Allowing them to dry for 24 hours will help extend their life span.

• It may be helpful to improve repeated application by spreading a few drops of cold water over the adhesive and turn the surface up to air dry. Be careful not to over-saturate as too much water can reduce the adhesive properties.

As you can see there are many factors that can influence the usage time. However, following the instructions on the electrode bag will help extend the usage of these electrodes.

When should i replace my electrodes?

Electrodes should be replaced when the electrodes are no longer sticking firmly to the skin, have been re-applied more than the suggested amount of uses or when the electrode is no longer conducting effectively.

Can a unit be used if you have a pacemake or Defibrillator

You cannot use a unit if you have a Pacemaker or Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator.

Can you use a TENS or EMS unit while pregnant?

No, you cannot use a unit while pregnant.