Do TENS Units Really Work? [Updated for 2022]

Do TENS Units Really Work? [Updated for 2022]
March 8, 2022



I’ve Heard of TENS, But I’m Skeptical

Perhaps a medical professional or a friend has recommended you try out TENS therapy. Maybe you’ve been researching alternative pain relief and come across this article armed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Whatever the case, we are excited to help you learn how and if TENS really works!  
Here’s our answer in a nutshell:  
Pain is personal. Each person experiences it a bit differently depending on their individual health conditions and lifestyle. So to best answer the question “Does TENS Really Work?”, we turn it over to the thousands of real, regular people using TENS every single day. While the impact varies from person to person, pain type to pain type, the overwhelming majority of users love TENS and find it to be an effective way to manage and help relieve their daily pain.  
Want to better understand if TENS can help with your specific pain type? Keep reading to uncover the full answer and more!



A Quick Refresher On TENS Therapy

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit is a small handheld device with pads you place on your body. It targets your nerves with gentle pulses, to relieve pain caused by work, activity or arthritis.  



Why Does Electrical Stimulation Help With Pain?

It’s helpful to think of pain sensations like phone call signals. When a cell phone dials a number, it sends an airwave path to the number dialed. The reception can either be strong, weak or unreceived. With no signal, the call doesn’t go through. We can imagine something similar with pain sensations:   
  1. When pain strikes, a signal travels into the spinal cord.
  2. The signal travels through the brain stem (medulla) into the brain’s relay center (thalamus).
  3. The brain processes the information and we consciously perceive the painful sensation. 
But what if there was a way to help reduce those painful sensations? According to the Gate Control Theory of Pain, by stimulating nerves, TENS helps to reduce the sensation of pain.   Less painful sensations = less feeling of pain. 



What Pain Can TENS Help With?

TENS therapy can be used to target various areas of the body experiencing pain. TENS is considered an effective form of relief for:



1) Muscle Pain from Daily Living

Whether caused by physical work, office work, gardening, an awkward sleeping position, heavy lifting, and so many other everyday activities, muscle pain can be restrictive, making it difficult to move, run errands or do the activities you enjoy.   Luckily, TENS is an effective form of relief for sore and achy muscle pain from daily living! In fact, one study that used randomized controlled trials over a 30 year period found TENS units provided a “significant decrease in [musculoskeletal] pain.”   The specific muscle groups TENS works on include:
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • Upper Back and Arm Pain
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Leg Pain
  • Foot Pain
Man using TENS for work related pain



2) Chronic Pain

Living with pain on a daily basis can take its toll! Often chronic pain can hold you back from work, play, or travel – impacting your overall quality of life. Many pain sufferers find that TENS devices help effectively manage and relieve symptoms of chronic, stubborn pain. The best part? TENS machines can be used right from the comfort of your own home, car, workplace, or wherever you happen to be right when the pain hits.



3) Joint Pain & Arthritis-Related Pain

The Arthritis Foundation recognizes TENS as an effective option to help relieve arthritic pain! They say that “TENS has been shown to relieve osteoarthritis pain.” TENS devices present arthritis sufferers with an easy, effective way to relieve arthritic pain at home or on the go. Just place the small pads on areas prone to arthritis pain such as the knees or hands, turn the device on and start to feel the soothing nerve and muscle stimulations.



4) Post-Exercise Muscle Pain

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is very common after a workout session. It occurs due to the strain we put on our muscles when we exercise, causing very small, microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. While this muscle soreness is completely normal, it’s still quite uncomfortable to experience – especially as you go about your day trying to perform common tasks. TENS can help relieve these sore and achy muscles, while EMS can stimulate healthy muscles, to improve and facilitate muscle performance.  



When Should TENS Not Be Used?

Although TENS therapy is gentle, has been used by doctors and physical therapists for decades, and has very few side effects, there are still some general warnings you should be aware of.



Important Flag:

While it is possible to purchase a TENS unit without professional medical advice, we strongly advise that you speak to your doctor beforehand. Please ensure it is safe for your individual conditions, especially if you are trying TENS for the first time!



Do NOT Use TENS If You:

  • Have a Cardiac Pacemakers or Implanted Defibrillator
  • Have Epilepsy
  • Are Pregnant: Using TENS therapy is not recommended during pregnancy but has been recommended by some medical professionals during labor. Always consult with your doctor before using a TENS device if you are pregnant.



Do Not Place TENS Massage Pads on:

  • Cuts & Wounds
  • Your Head
  • Your Throat: Placing electrodes on this area could induce severe spasms and cause difficulty breathing.
  • Your Chest: Activating the electrical current into the heart may cause cardiac arrhythmias.



Potential Side Effects of TENS Therapy:

  • Skin Reactions: On rare occasions, therapy can result in skin reactions such as a rash, inflammation, or irritation. A small percentage of users (approximately 2-3%) have an allergic reaction to the pads. This irritation can depend on the user’s skin sensitivity, allergies, and a poor connection between the electrode and skin.

  • Unpleasant Sensation: TENS is meant to help reduce pain, not increase it. If you feel any negative sensations from use, turn down the intensity to a comfortable level. Different TENS devices will provide different pulses, frequencies and wavelengths, so it’s important to find a device that feels good for you.



Why Do So Many People Choose TENS?

Like any other form of pain therapy, TENS is not a cure-all solution. It’s important to be wary of any advertisement claiming that a product can completely cure your pain. Instead, a TENS device is a tool you can add to your pain management routine that can help you manage your day to day pain.   Here are some reasons why millions of people worldwide choose TENS to help them manage pain that life throws their way:

  • TENS devices are completely drug-free, so you can use them multiple times a day.
  • TENS units are trusted by and used in many chiropractors and physical therapists.
  • TENS devices are very convenient and can be used at-home or on-the-go.
  • TENS devices are an affordable one time purchase that can last years and sometimes even decades.
  • Most importantly, TENS can work!



Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

Many many TENS lovers once started as skeptics. But willing to do almost anything to minimize the daily pain they lived with, they took a chance and tried it for themselves…  


TENS Review  

Real customer on TENS    

The majority of TENS users end up coming to the same conclusion — that TENS does work effectively to help reduce their pain.   However there are still a few people who have decided TENS isn’t the right tool for them, and that’s okay! Pain is personal and there isn’t a catch-all solution available. But if you care about finding a high quality, medical tech, drug-free device, TENS could be the right tool for you.   Here are a few more real, regular people who have found value from using TENS in their daily life:  

TENS for circulation  

TENS for daily pain



Try TENS For Yourself with a Risk-Free 90 Day Money Back Guarantee

Whether you have yet to find an effective pain therapy tool, are uncomfortable with strong painkillers, or simply believe a life with less pain is not an attainable reality, we are here to tell you – THERE IS HOPE! Even if TENS can help make the smallest difference in your life, you owe it to yourself to at least try it.   That’s why we are proud to offer our 90 day home trial with a money back guarantee. Give one of our TENS machines a try, see how you like it for your pain type, and then decide if you want to keep it.  


Start browsing our most beloved TENS devices:  

  1. The Circulation Promoter: A TENS device specifically designed for use on the feet and legs.
  2. The Neck Pain Pro: A TENS device specially designed for use on the neck and shoulders.
  3. The Triple Action Back Belt: A TENS device specifically designed for use on the low back.
  4. The Pain Therapy System 4-Pad: A general-purpose TENS device with 4 body pads for use on multiple body parts.