What should be considered before buying a TENS machine?
How a TENS machine can help you
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation - TENS for short - has established itself as an extremely effective method for treating acute as well as chronic pain. One advantage is that you can also perform electrostimulation at home. All you need is the TENS machine that suits your needs.
TENS can help you, for example, to relieve pain caused by lumbago, hand or shoulder pain. Besides these applications, there are many more. Here you will find an overview of all TENS applications.
Treating complaints with TENS is especially a sensible alternative to medication. In addition, it makes sense to strengthen the muscles with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) in parallel to the TENS therapy. This can help you prevent pain and reduce your susceptibility to injury. EMS is often used together with TENS to also eliminate the causes of the complaints. You can find both individual TENS and EMS machines as well as combined units for both types of electrostimulation. While you only treat pain with TENS, EMS aims to strengthen the muscles. You can find everything you need to know about EMS in our EMS guide. When buying, make sure you know whether a TENS EMS combo machine (e.g. the STIM PRO X9) makes sense or whether a pure TENS machine (e.g. the STIM PRO T-400) that only supports TENS is sufficient.
All TENS devices
How a TENS machine works
TENS electrostimulation works according to the principle of the control barrier theory. In essence, this means that you only feel pain - wherever it is - if the corresponding stimuli are also transmitted to the brain.
This is how stimulation current therapy works:
During stimulation current therapy with a TENS unit, the pads transmit electrical impulses to the painful part of the body. This blocks the nerve pathways and thus prevents the pain from being passed on to the brain. All you feel is a slight, pleasant tingling sensation.
For this reason, if you often suffer from severe pain, you should consider purchasing a TENS unit. Other users find that the effect is such that pain is noticeably relieved and life becomes much more pleasant. In addition, you automatically counteract unhealthy postures that you have become accustomed to due to the pain and that can lead to further discomfort. In addition, the pain, which is no longer so intense, has a relieving and thus also a psychological effect.
We answer your questions
How long should a TENS machine be used?
Start with a 30-minute therapy session. Repeat as needed for another 30 minutes up to three times a day. During each therapy session, rate your pain before and after the session on a scale of 1 (low) to 20 (high) to track the actual success of pain relief.
Can a TENS machine be overused?
Normally, people do not experience any side effects when TENS therapy is performed correctly. In some cases, however, side effects can occur if the device is overused too often and/or the intensity is set too high. These can lead to the part of the body that is being treated experiencing discomfort, as if one were exercising too intensively and thus getting pain.
To avoid side effects, you should give your skin a break every 20 minutes or so during longer applications.
Can you sleep while you are doing the TENS therapy?
No. TENS stimulation current therapy should only be carried out when you are fully conscious.
TENS EMS Combo Machine STIM-PRO X9
With the TENS EMS combo machine, you can choose from a wide range of functions and have maximum ease of use, which pays off with both TENS and EMS. In addition, you can do yourself some good with the stimulation current massages. The TENS EMS combo machine provides a total of 37 programs for pain therapy, muscle stimulation, pelvic floor training and stimulation current massages. The four channels allow you to use up to eight pads simultaneously.
Find the right TENS machine
You would like to start with stimulation current therapy to treat your pain, but you do not yet know which device suits you? The products differ mainly in terms of range of functions and variety of programs. And other factors also play a role. Below you will find the following recommendations:
The STIM-PRO T-400 is a digital TENS machine and the answer to the most common types of pain in everyday life. The range of functions extends over 12 different and easy-to-use programs. These can help you with a variety of acute and chronic complaints. The five manual modes open up special and individual TENS applications. The device can use up to four pads simultaneously with two channels.
The STIM-PRO Comfort is recommended for beginners who are looking for an affordable TENS machine for the treatment of acute pain. The device convinces with its simple operability, with which the twelve programs can be used in an uncomplicated way. The two channels allow the simultaneous use of up to four pads.
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 Stralka, S. W., Jackson, J. A. & Lewis, A. R. (1998). Treatment of Hand and Wrist Pain. AAOHN Journal, 46(5), 233–236. https://doi.org/10.1177/216507999804600502
 Likar, R., Molnar, M., Pipam, W., Koppert, W., Quantschnigg, B., Disselhoff, B. & Sittl, R. (2001). Postoperative transkutane elektrische Nervenstimulation (TENS). Der Schmerz, 15(3), 158–163. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004820170017