What Is The Best Tens Unit For Personal Use?

By Holly / November 24, 2015

The TENS, which stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, is a device used to address nerve-related pain conditions. It utilizes electrical current to stimulate the nerves for healing benefits. The devices offer quick relief for acute and chronic pain. They are also portable and you can take them with you wherever you go. Doctors, physical therapists, and sports coaches often use this device and even endorse home usage.

The Top TENS Unit is...

PurePulse Duo TENS and EMS Combo

Why we chose this unit:

  1. Features 8 preset TENS programs, 6 preset EMS programs, adjustable timer plus dual channel operation with independent intensity controls
  2. Easy-to-read LCD display with compact design best for travel & home use
  3. 5-60 minute customized timer with 60-second automaticshutoff for longer battery life
How it Works

This equipment does not have side effects. Some patients were even able to stop their pain medication after regular usage of the TENS unit for nerve and muscle discomfort. The term “transcutaneous” means through the skin, which is why the TENS unit produces soothing vibration and delivers them through your skin with the help of adhesive pads.

Two to four electrodes are normally attached to the adhesive pads, which are then placed on areas that require treatment. The TENS unit regulates intensity, frequency, and pulse width. Such frequencies can be less than 10 Hz or higher than 50Hz. The bioelectric current produced by the units promote pain relief and trigger the production of endorphin, which is a type of hormone that serves as the body’s painkiller.

Results are usually felt right after the session. The TENS unit can be used for everyday for a quick alleviation of pain and tension.

Looking for a TENS Unit

There are plenty of factors to consider when looking for a TENS unit. With a wide variety of models out there, the search can be overwhelming. You need to first determine how much you are willing to spend on a TENS unit, followed by the features that you want the device to have. You should also consider its portability, especially if you travel a lot. Some models come with rechargeable batteries, so you can easily use them anywhere you go.


The most important thing to check when looking for a TENS unit would be its legality. You need to see if the device has received clearance from the FDA as an over-the-counter class II medical equipment. If the model that you have come across does not have this certification, then you need to scratch it out from your list. There are companies that sell medical devices without the necessary permits and licenses from the authorities. This is why you need to be extra careful before making a buying decision.

Modes and Programs

Today’s TENS units have modes or preset programs designed to make the usage simpler for users. Some devices have less modes, but offer better treatment. Such units, however, require more input from the user and there will be a greater need to become familiar with terms like wavelength and pulse-width. If you are using the TENS unit for the first time, then it will be safer to buy a device with preset programs for ease of use.


Most TENS units nowadays have dual channels, and come with independent intensity controls. Such models can be used with two or four adhesive pads at a time, Each channel will have two pads, and you are free to separately adjust the strength of the electricity being brought through your skin.

It should be noted, however, that you can always use a dual-channeled unit with two or four pads, but can never use a single-channel machine with more than two pads. In addition, there is hardly any price difference between most single- and dual-channeled TENS units. There are also quad-channeled TENS device, which you can use with up to 8 adhesive pads. If you are treating a large area or several areas, then you can purchase a unit with more channels.

Intensity Levels

You need to know that the number of intensity levels available in a device does not reflect its power. If a TENS unit, for example, has 50 intensity levels, then it does not necessarily mean that it has twice the power of a device with only 25. This is because a unit with 50 intensity levels has a power that increases about 2 percent at a time, while a device with 25 levels can be adjusted in increments of 4 percent.

While it may not be possible to test all the TENS units on your shortlist to see how strong they are, some manufacturers indicate the intensity in mA. This information, however, is not available on most devices. It would be wise to search for user feedback online and check for customer reviews.

Ease of Use

As mentioned earlier, some TENS units have fewer modes and programs. Such units are not ideal for older adults and those who are not willing to thoroughly study the device. Look for the buttons and controls available on the device, and see whether each function or program has been labeled clearly and whether they can be easily identified. Another factor would be to see if the screen is easy to read, and whether it is backlit for nighttime or low-light viewing.


Many new models now have built-in, rechargeable lithium batteries. Rechargeable TENS units provide added convenience as you no longer need to worry about running out of batteries. You will also save more money with these devices as you will not have to set aside a budget for replacement batteries. However, you still need to consider some important things when looking for a rechargeable TENS unit.

If a device is rechargeable, then you need to first see how it is charged. Some units can be charged through USB ports, while others can be plugged in a socket. You also need to know how long will a fully-charged unit last, and whether it can accommodate standard batteries like AA and AAA. Most rechargeable TENS units cost higher than the regular models, but it is worth considering how much you can save on replacement batteries in the long run.


If you need a quick pain relief on-the-go, then you need to consider portability. The last thing you will want to is to carry a large, heavy object in your bag. This is why you need to determine how big you want the device to be, and how much will it weigh. You also need to check if it comes with a carrying case or something similar to keep it safe as you travel.


Accessories can play a major part in your decision making process, especially if you want to maximize your usage and budget. You need to know what accessories come with the TENS unit, and whether it would make your experience better. It is also best to note that there are models that come with various integrated features, and will not need a lot of add-ons.


Majority of TENS devices come with a one-year warranty. Some, however, keep your unit protected for two years, while others ship with only a 90-day coverage. The more expensive models available on the market offer a limited lifetime warranty. If you plan to have a long-term relationship with your TENS device, then consider purchasing one with the best warranty offer.

User Feedback
Price Level
Our Rate
PurePulse Duo TENS and EMS Combo FDA-approved portable device combines the TENS and EMS stimulators; with 8 + 6 programs, 25 intensity levels & adjustable timer up to 60 minsExcellentMid-Range4.7 / 5
HealthmateForever Best Touch Screen T12A Handy design with 2 separate channels to provide double pain relief & relaxation; comes with touch screen for selecting modes, display lock/unlock & built-in lithium battery; FDA-approved & no need of gels or lotions as adhesiveVery GoodVery High4.5 / 5
truMedic TM-1000PRO Deluxe Features 20 power levels & digital controls; FDA approved for home & works up to 2 hours/session with built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery; lightweight & easy to operate with backlit LCD displayGoodHigh4.2 / 5
Zewa Spabuddy Sport 2-channel device with 30 intensity levels includes 8 pre-set programs perfect for athletes; can set programs up to 95 mins or continuous; equipped with LCD screen, lock feature & weighs 4.8 ozVery GoodMid-Range4.5 / 5
OMRON Pain Relief Pro FDA-approved device with long life large pads & weighs 13.6 oz.; with easy to read & operate LCD screen display; features 8 preset programs & 10 intensity levels; 5 modes target different parts of the bodyGoodLow4.2 / 5

Best TENS Units

The best TENS unit greatly depends on your needs and expectations. Here are some of the most saleable devices that might suit your taste:

1. PurePulse Duo TENS and EMS Combo

The PurePulse Duo features a combination of two stimulators: the TENS and EMS. EMS stands for Electronic Muscle Stimulation, which targets the problematic areas of the body’s muscular system. This portable device can fit into your purse or pocket – perfect for travel. This unit is FDA-approved, meaning you can purchase it over the counter without the need to present a prescription.

One great feature to note is its ability to provide two different intensity levels simultaneously. The PurePulse Duo’s TENS method features 8 preset programs, while the EMS has 6. You can also see your selected program, therapy method, intensity level, and remaining time. There are 25 intensity levels to choose from, as well, and you can adjust the timer from 5 to 60 minutes. It also has an automatic shutdown feature, where the unit switches itself off after 60 seconds to preserve battery life.

The box includes 4 standard electrode pads for small areas like your lower arms and neck, two butterfly pads for the larger muscle groups like your legs and back, three AAA batteries, two lead connection wires, and a carrying bag. This item has a three-year warranty, weighs only 12.8 ounces, and is as small as an MP3 player.

2. HealthmateForever Best Touch Screen T12A

The HealthmateForever TENS device is small enough to fit in your handbag or pocket. It has two separate channels to give you double pain relief and relaxation. This FDA-approved TENS unit works great on large muscle groups, including your back and legs. While this device no longer needs gels or lotions for the pads to stick, it is still ideal to use an alcohol swab to get rid of oil, dirt, or sweat to make them last longer.

This unit boasts of a touch screen that allows you to select your modes, and lock or unlock the display. Such feature makes mode selection easy as other models still require you to keep pressing a button until you get to your desired mode. You can set the timer up to 80 minutes, or choose to temporarily halt the program by simply pressing the Pause button. The unit comes with a built-in lithium battery, a lifetime warranty, a touch pen, and a stainless steel casing.

3. truMedic TM-1000PRO Deluxe

This TENS unit has digital controls for its two channels, and features 20 power levels that you can set anytime. It is FDA approved for home use, and does not require any drugs. The device can also work for up to two hours per session – thanks to its built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery.

In addition, this model is lightweight and has the size of a remote control. You can easily operate this device through its backlit LCD screen display, which shows you data like your remaining time for the session. The box comes with four adhesive pads, one USB wire, two lead wires, one A/C adapter, and a zippered carrying bag. It also has a one-year parts and labor warranty, and weighs only around 4 ounces.

4. Zewa Spabuddy Sport

The Spabuddy Sport is perfect for athletes. You can use two or four adhesive pads at a time, and up to 8 pre-set programs. This dual-channeled device also features 30 intensity levels, and an LCD screen display for you to see your session’s progress. You can set your treatment program up to 95 minutes or continuously, and a lock feature protects your device from accidental changes.

The box includes four adhesive pads, three AAA batteries, two electrode cables, and a two-year warranty. The unit itself only weighs 4.8 ounces.

5. OMRON Pain Relief Pro PM3031

Medical professionals have been using this TENS unit for a long time. This FDA-approved unit can be purchased over the counter without the need to present a prescription. It also features an LCD screen display that is easy to read and operate. In addition, you can choose among the 10 intensity levels and 8 preset programs for a more personalized treatment. The five modes target your lower back, foot, leg, arm, and joints with kneading, tapping, and rubbing massage style choices.

The OMRON Pain Relief Pro is about the size of a smartphone, and weighs only 13.6 ounces. This handy TENS unit also comes with four standard-sized adhesive pads, which are very comfortable to the skin. You can wash the pads with tap water, and then air dry before placing them on the holder. The pads can be re-used up to 150 times, and wash up to 10 times. However, you must remember that you can only remove the pads after switching the unit off.

The unit includes two AAA batteries, electrode cords, a cloth carrying case, an instruction manual, a pad holder, two pads, and a one-year warranty. The supplied adhesive pads are warranted for 30 days.


About the author


Thank you for reading my article! I am Holly Nunan, a mother of three daughters aged four, six and eight. I'm an Exercise Physiologist with a passion for exercise, fitness, raising healthy children and natural and alternative remedies. I have a simple mission to help each reader that comes to our website to take away one new piece of healthy information that they can immediately apply to their life. If I've helped you find that today, it's mission accomplished!