How to Choose a TENS Machine [Updated for 2021]

How to Choose a TENS Machine [Updated for 2021]
Updated January 2021


Choosing the right TENS unit for you can be very tricky. Which features should you prioritize? How can you get the best one to help you with your specific needs? Learn how to choose a TENS machine, while taking into account features, modes, intensity, battery requirements, size, customer reviews, screen and more.

How to Choose a TENS Machine

TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.” A TENS unit can help you temporarily relieve pain in areas like the neck, shoulders, hips, joints, back, knees, legs, feet and ankles. It works by sending safe, gentle electrical impulses along your nerve fibres in order to contract and relax the muscles to temporarily increase local blood circulation and to be used for symptomatic relief of chronic, intractable pain and pain associated by arthritis.

When it comes to choosing a TENS machine, there are a number of factors to consider. In general, you’ll want to look at:

1. Overall package
2. System and interface
3. Display screen
4. Warranty
5. Customer reviews
6. Mobility


1. Overall Package

The first step in learning how to choose a TENS machine is to look at what you get in the overall package. Does it come with extra gel pads? Does it include a spare battery? What about a carrying or storage case? Is it customizable — that is, can you swap out the electrodes with another kind should you not like the included ones? Can you connect other devices to it such as a therapy belt or band? Essentially, at this stage, you’re looking for options and amenities.

Why are these important? Naturally, functionality is your first concern, but a company that offers a lot of options and amenities, in general, can be seen to care about their customers and providing a quality product. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good place to start.

2. System and Interface

Next, investigate thoroughly, the system and interface. Is it user-friendly and easy to operate? Are the controls simple to access and understand? How easy or difficult will it be to make a mistake when you’re adjusting settings — if you can easily slip up, you could end up getting an uncomfortable jolt.

Look for units, in addition, that have a cover over their controls to protect you from accidentally bumping or jarring the buttons, touchscreen or settings while the device is in use.

In addition, how easy is it to swap out the battery? Is the compartment easily accessible? Do you need special tiny screwdrivers or can you swap out the batteries with a quick, one-off process? Does it have an AC adapter so you can use it without batteries if need be?




3. Display Screen

You want a unit you can easily read with clear enough readings that you can easily note and decipher what it’s doing at any given time. Controls need to be clearly labelled and easy to understand, especially on a touchscreen device, and you should be able to quickly and easily make any changes you need.

DR-HO'S Pain therapy system pro


4. Mobility

Mobility is something many people fail to consider. Some TENS devices are actually quite large and if you can’t move them around, it may not fulfill your needs. Make sure you look into the size of the machine as well as issues that might occur when trying to move it from one place to another or use it on the go. Does it require an electrical outlet or can you use it with batteries, for example?


5. Warranty

TENS units are electronic devices. This means that no matter how well-made they are, sometimes things happen and they break down. You need to be sure that if this happens, you’re covered. Check to see if there’s an included or available warranty, what it covers, and what (if any) additional cost such a warranty will incur. It never hurts to have warranty protection on a piece of technology.


6. Customer Reviews

Finally, read customer reviews and testimonials. The more customers that speak highly of a device, the better it is. In addition, if you find a range of bad reviews, that’s a sign you want to be cautious. Your best resource for finding your new TENS machine is to listen to what other people have to say about it.

Learn more about TENS on the DR-HO'S Blog!

TENS Machines: This is Everything You Need to Know
Do TENS Units Really Work?
How Do TENS Machines Work?
TENS Machine Side Effects: Is TENS Therapy Safe?
How Long is it Safe to Use TENS For?
How to Use TENS to Relieve Sore and Aching Muscles
What Sets DR-HO’S TENS Machines Apart?
DR-HO’S Pad Placement Guide for Chronic Pain
Can TENS Machines Help With Muscle Recovery Post Workout?