Everyone’s minds were blown when wireless stuff has been invented. Instead of plugging in big chunky desktops, we could always opt to buy a portable laptop without always needing it to be plugged. The undeniable convenience of the concept of wireless has reached many inventions. If you have back pains and want to get rid of it easily, then you may have already heard about the Wireless TENS unit.
Unlike the Wired TENS, you would no longer need to attach any cable to the electrodes so you can plug them into the TENS. Not to mention that because of the wiring, accidents may happen. Getting a wireless one gets rid of the hassle of the big machine. You would not even be conscious of any wiring popping out of your pockets either.
Before we go into the wireless version, let’s take a quick review on what TENS units are in the first place. TENS basically stands for Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. These TENS units are mainly used for nerve related pains and conditions where acute or chronic. They work simply by sending pulses on the skin and nerve strands that stimulate your body to produce more natural hormones called Endorphins. These endorphins help in reducing pain. Alongside producing these, the stimulating also prevents pain signals from the body to reach the brain.
Most of the times, this is a great alternative to using pills or painkillers. To an extent, it can even replace many forms of treatment especially when it comes to pain medication. This is perfect for people who do not like the side effects that drugs may have when taken. However, the effectiveness is not the same for all and usually depends on the kind of pain the person is feeling.
Although it can replace many forms of treatment, many people use it alongside other forms. The TENS units should not be mistaken as a cure for any kind condition. Treating it with the right expertise such as physical therapy, surgery, and proper medication is still better as it combats the cause of the pain.
It has been tested by many users and often is the case where users are satisfied with the TENS unit as it actually relieves them the pain. There is, however, no conclusive research to actually back this up.
TENS units are easily accessible and can be purchased for as low as $20 over the counter. Companies make different kinds of TENS units that have their own customized parts. A usual TENS unit would have the device itself, lead wires, the electrodes or pads, and a couple of batteries. The more expensive ones can come with rechargeable batteries or better pads. Contrary to most other machines, getting a more expensive model would not necessarily give better results, only better conveniences. Although a good TENS unit would be able to relieve pain in multiple areas. These would include, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, upper/mid/lower back, thighs, legs, buttocks, calves, feet, and toes. Additionally, it could be used for common sports injuries, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
The convenience that these TENS units bring can be found in its reuse. The machine can be used again and again without having the hassle to go to doctors or drugstores to buy medication. However, the pads do wear out at some point.
Now all this may seem appealing to you due to its convenience and how it can be bought so easily at a low price even without a prescription, but do not get your hopes too high. There are still some cases where the TENS unit is not actually suitable or advised for you. It is always best to consult with your doctor and ask if he or she allows you to use a TENS unit.
If you already have a TENS unit, you may have probably noticed that there is a list of conditions of people who should not use this device. While this may help, it can be quite confusing when checking other TENS units from other brands. One brand may restrict people with a kind of disease while others does not mention anything about them. In fact they rarely have common warning and precautions.
Although that is not to say that every detail in the caution list is entirely different. If you want to compare, there are still some basic warning that are common through all TENS units. Nevertheless, the fact that these units have different warnings can be cause for a bit of skepticism. This is exactly why it is still best to consult your doctor.
Possible Side Effects of TENS
Although it was mentioned previously that the TENS is perfect for those who do not want the side effects of drugs, it does not automatically mean that the TENS has no side effects at all. Many people simply choose TENS more than medications because of how minimal the side effects are.
On the bright side, the side effects are actually uncommon as only maybe a few people have experienced its possible side effect. Few may actually get allergies on their skin due to the TENS’ pad. But this can easily be solved by getting ones with a special latex-pads since companies produce these two anyway.
Most of the other side effects are mere isolated cases due to misuse of the machine itself. They usually come in the form of setting the intensity too high. This may result your muscles to twitch and give cramp-like pain. Additionally, using it too many times can also lead the area to become quite sore.
Difference Between Wired TENS and Wireless Ones
You can already probably guess the difference by knowing the difference of anything that is wired from the same thing that is wireless. But there are some differences that are worth noting as these also mention the benefit of actually having a wireless TENS unit. To put it simply, these wireless TENS units are:
- Simple and easy to use – Different brands can make big differences but what all they have in common is how easy any of them can be used when compared to the wired ones. Most would even come with a remote control and with a press of a button, you already get the machine started. The controls can even make the necessary adjustments when needed. Whereas, using a wired TENS would need a step by step procedure.
- Discreet – The wired TENS are usually bulky. Wireless ones are small and can easily be hidden underneath your shirt. It makes it a very portable device without the hassle of ever needing wires for it.
- Portable – There are less accessories to worry about when getting a wireless TENS and they can easily be carried around and placed in your bag. Again, since there are no wires, it makes it even less bulky.
Although no one wireless TENS is perfect not even close to it. Most of these wireless units share these common drawbacks when compared to wired units.
- Less features available – Since it is portable, you may have to expect it to lack a few features the wired ones have. The controls are easy only because there are less pre-programmed modes as well.
- Lacking in power – If you have tried both the wired and wireless ones, you may have noticed its significant lack of power. Some who only need minimal intensity may benefit from the wireless units, but those who need a stronger intensity is stuck with a wired TENS unit.
- Replacement pads come only from the manufacturer themselves – The pads in a wireless unit are often times customized to every brand. Since the pads wear out at one point, it may be a hassle contacting the manufacturer to get replacements for it.
A Review on Some of the Recommended Wireless TENS Units
At this point, you may have consulted your doctor and he has allowed you to use a TENS unit. After having read the details on wireless and wired units, you have concluded that getting a wireless one may fit your needs. Now you are looking for a wireless TENS unit that you may want to buy. Well there is no need to open a new tab as this article will give a short detailed review on 3 of the recommended Wireless TENS units in the market so far.
Easy@Home Wireless Rechargeable TENS Unit, Muscle Stimulator and Pain Relief TENS Pulse Massager, EHE016 – FDA for OTC approved Pain Relief Therapy Device
- FDA Approved – This wireless tens unit has been approved by the FDA so you know that the the unit does what it is supposed to do: relieve pain.
- Does not come with a remote – Easy@Home provides more convenience with their product as it it both wireless and does not even need a remote control. In fact the package only comes with covers (Gel Electrode) for the pads and a charger aside from the unit itself.
- Battery life lasts long and is rechargeable – Since it comes with a charger, you may have already implied that it is in fact rechargeable. The battery life is almost something to applaud Easy@Home for since you only would typically need an hour of charging which would get you several sessions with it.
- Various modes and intensities are available – There are a total of 5 automated massage program options with 15 different power levels to adjust intensity. All these options are managed by only two buttons aside from the power button itself. You only need to hold down the plus or minus button, it will switch between 5 different massage options or patterns. On the other hand, to increase or decrease the intensity, all you need to do is short press either plus or minus button respectively.
- It has warranty – If by any chance the product is not for you for whatever reason, Easy@Home provides a 1-year product replacement warranty and money-back guarantee. You have a year to decide whether it is good for you or not and a year is more than enough time for anyone trying this model out.
- Not all modes suit every part of the body – Although there are 5 different massage options or patterns, some may not work well for some people. A few have reported that it should mostly only be used for your back since the massage options are made best for them. Others even reported that using it on a shoulder feels awkward and can sometimes lead your muscles to twitch.
- The adhesive does not last long – Although it does have covers for the pads, it still does not do much to make the adhesive last longer. Several have complained that this is a one-time only use TENS unit as it loses its stickiness after only an hour of use. Although some reported that it lasted longer than one hour, the trend nevertheless seemed to be that it does not last long compared to other devices available. Most of the complaints pointed out that these may be due to how cheap this TENS unit is.
- The controls are hard to manage due to its design – While it does not have a remote since the buttons are on the unit itself, its design does not provide a guide to know which buttons you are pressing when applied on your back. Often times, you are not sure of the buttons you are pressing.
- It can only last up to 15 minutes – Furthermore regarding its controls, it proves quite a hassle to have to reset the whole thing after every 15 minutes since that is the longest it can go. With the average time for users being at least 30 minutes, having to adjust the settings again and again can be time inefficient and may lose the momentum of the massage.
- FDA Approved and Clinically Proven- Like the previous model from Easy@Home, their product is also approved by FDA again making you sure that it does job well. The product has also been clinically proven to actually relieve pain more than other brands.
- It has both TENS and EMS – Having TENS is already a big win, but combining it with the Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) makes it even better. Not only does it pain relief but it even conditions your muscle. While the TENS blocks pain signals to the brain, the EMS specifically stimulates muscle nerves to where the electrode pads are placed by making them contract and relax repeatedly.
- Its small design makes it easily wearable and can be hidden under your shirt – The unit comes with two bandage-like pads with a wireless remote. The bondage pads can even be used on two different areas providing more efficiency as you get the pain relief quickly on both areas. This also further makes it easy to adjust and hit the perfect spot.
- The unit is incredibly versatile – There are 14 programming modes to choose from. Among these 14 modes, there are specifically 7 made for TENS, 1 for Arthritis TENS, and 6 for EMS Therapy programs. The intensity levels themselves have various levels and can go really high close to a wired TENS unit,
- It is easy to use – The remote is pretty straightforward to use, but if that is not enough for you the short manual that comes with the package is even easier to understand. You will only probably need through it once to understand how to use it.
- It can only be used for a limited number of uses – Props to iReliev for being transparent in mentioning in their manual that this model can only last for 20 to 30 uses. Depending on how much you use it, getting this product may or may not be worth it for you. If you like it and want to continue using this model, you may always opt for more electrode pads from the manufacturer themselves. It would cost around $30 for 4 pads. That said, you can try calculating whether this would be a good investment for you in the long run.
- Snapping the the electrode pad to the receivers can be a hassle – Although this may seem like an isolated case, more and more customers are expressing frustration over the same problem. One even mentioned how it took her more than 30 units just to get pad into the receiver. Others suggested that if ever the same situation happens to you, you may just to be patient in doing so as it will slowly loosen up.
- The receivers do not fit the carrier bag – Although it did provide a small bag for users to place it in, the receivers did not fit well making the carrier quite useless.
Aleve Direct Therapy – TENS Device (Price Average: $35)
- It does not have any program or modes but instead has three stages – Aleve’s TENS unit is a fairly straightforward device that does not exactly need any programs or modes to work with. What if offers to cover for its lack in modes is its default 3-stage sessions. The session last a total of 30 minutes and when all of the stages are done, it automatically turns off. Stage 1 lasts 5 minutes which basically hinders pain signal. Stage 2 lasts 20 minutes delivering a gentle tapping-like massage while the rest of the time for stage 3 is similar to stage 1. Furthermore regarding its simplicity, it only features one channel than the usual dual channel units as it is quite practical after all.
- Offers 15 intensity levels – While it is a pretty simple device, this does not hinder them from giving various intensity levels for each sessions. Unlike the Easy@Home device mentioned that also offers 15 different power levels, Aleve’s highest intensity actually satisfies most people who are looking for a stronger intensity.
- It is completely easy to use – You can probably imply from having lesser options, there would not be many buttons on its remote. True enough, the remote is super small since it only has 3 buttons: the power button and the plus and minus buttons.
- It is powered by batteries that can easily be replaced – The TENS unit is specifically powered by two triple A batteries. Although some people may prefer rechargeable batteries or units themselves, not many find having to buy batteries a problem since it is not much of a hassle.
- There seems to be a problem with the gel pads – Almost all of the reviews had something to say about the unit’s gel pads. Specifically, many users mentioned that it usually falls off and does not stick well when first bought. Some have tried buying replacement pads and did the trick with its stickiness. However, other found that the gel pads are overpriced and that the unit itself was designed to make you buy those replacement gel pads. Some have had success in using the gel pads to work but only for a couple of times. It gets worse if you sweat a lot.
- It uses a lot of battery power – Although this is not a common issue, some users reported that their unit chews through the battery life too fast that they needed to keep replacing the AAA batteries. One user who loved the product and used it frequently had mentioned that he had to replace the batteries once and sometimes twice a week
Frequently Asked Questions About the TENS Units
How long before I feel the benefit from using my TENS unit?
The relief should be felt immediately or at least during the time the machine is used. At times, it may take a longer for people but they should at least start feeling the pain relief slowly. The delay may also be due to finding the best position for the pads or electrodes.
How long should I be using the TENS unit?
This would depend on you. Ideally, it would take at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
I feel relieved from the pain but how long will this last?
This is a more personalized case. Depending on the kind of pain, where it is painful, and the intensity of it, some people only need to use it once a day. Others may need to repeat the process twice or thrice in a day.
When should I stop using my TENS unit?
Generally, you should not place the pads or the electrodes on your neck. Do not use it all when driving or when operating other machines. Lastly, as also mentioned above, although the brand of the TENS unit you have may have listed warning and precautionary measures, it is always best to have your doctor see if the TENS unit will even benefit you at all.