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TENS vs EMS: What are the Differences?

If you're on the lookout for effective, drug-free muscle pain relief, you've probably heard the terms EMS therapy or TENS therapy. When it comes to TENS vs EMS, there are some key differences you should know about:

TENS Therapy for Muscle Pain Relief

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS machines, such as DR-HO'S Pain Therapy System, work by stimulating nerves in the body with gentle electrical pulses. These machines can be small, portable and powered by batteries. In order to use the unit, the user simply has to place self-sticking massage pads on the painful muscles. The electrical pulses then travel through the pads and along the nerves.

As these pulses move along the nervous system, they block pain signals from reaching the brain. This method works because our nerves and spinal cannot multi-task. By distracting the nerves with constant electrical stimulation, the pain signals cannot reach the brain.1 This process can be very helpful in managing and relieving back pain, foot pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia and more.

tens vs ems

EMS Therapy for Muscle Pain and Recovery

Where TENS therapy works by stimulating the nerves, Electrical Muscle Stimulation targets the muscles directly. Just as with TENS, EMS is a form of safe, gentle therapy that has been long been used in clinics. EMS machines release a pulsing electrical current that causes muscles to contract and release. This stimulation mimics the natural action of the muscles during physical activity. Like TENS, EMS has many positive benefits.

  1. It helps to increase blood flow and circulation to the muscles which helps them heal
  2. It can help strengthen the muscles, especially after an injury
  3. The contraction and release of the muscles helps them to relax
  4. Finally, it can relieve muscle pain, spasms and muscle tension

EMS has such a soothing effect on muscles, that it's become a very popular post-workout tool. This is due to the fact that it relaxes painful muscles and helps them heal by boosting circulation. As we workout, we contract and release our muscles which helps build strength. Consequently, EMS can help with muscle building during a workout, as it increases the time that the muscle is contracted.

Can TENS and EMS Be Combined?

Even though TENS and EMS are different, they can be combined into one unit. Devices like DR-HO'S Pain Therapy System Pro provide the dual benefits of both TENS and EMS. Because of this combination, this unit is ideal for muscle pain relief and recovery.

By using electrical wave patterns that constantly change, a combined EMS and TENS unit can both block pain signals from reaching the brain, and cause painful muscles to contract and release. This stimulation will increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscle, which helps with muscle pain after a workout.

After a workout, our muscles will usually have microscopic tears. While this is totally normal and helps them heal stronger, the tears can become inflamed and painful. By using the Pain Therapy System Pro to increase blood and oxygen flow, these tears will heal faster. Plus, the pain will be less intense because the electrical current will also block pain signals from reaching the brain.


Learn More About TENS vs EMS Therapy!

If you’d like more information about how TENS devices work, Download the DR-HO'S TENS Buyer's Guide, and feel free to contact us for more information or help to manage your chronic pain today! Read TENS Machine: This is Everything You Need to Know for more information on TENS therapy, TENS machines and EMS.

Some More Great TENS Content From DR-HO'S

  1. TENS Machine: This is Everything You Need to Know
  2. DR-HO'S TENS Buyer's Guide: An Introduction to TENS Therapy
  3. How to Choose a TENS Machine.
  4. What is a TENS Machine?
  5. How Do TENS Machines Work?
  6. TENS Machine Side Effects: Is TENS Therapy Safe?
  7. What Is the Difference between EMS and TENS Therapy?
  8. Do TENS Units Really Work?
  9. What Conditions are TENS Machines Used For?
  10. What Does a TENS Unit do For Muscles?
  11. How to Use TENS for Muscle Recovery
  12. Can TENS Machines Help with Muscle Recovery Post Workout?
  13. Video: The Top 7 Questions People Ask About TENS
  14. How Does a TENS Unit Decrease Pain?
  15. Can You Use a TENS Unit While Sleeping?
  16. How Long is it Safe to Use TENS For?

Download the FREE TENS Guide!


1. Medicine Net. "Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) for Pain Management". https://www.medicinenet.com/transcutaneous_electrical_nerve_stimulation/article.htm

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