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Choosing the Best TENS Unit

by Juan Lopez May 01, 2022 0 Comments

Choosing the Best TENS Unit TENS units are a great way to provide drug-free pain relief in as little as 5 minutes a day. However with all the different modes, intensity levels, timers, and equipment options, finding one that can meet your needs may take some research. Take a moment to browse through our guide for an in-depth look at the three different TENS units we offer. With specialized recommendations, finding the right solution for you will be easy.

What to Consider when Choosing your TENS Unit

Learn more about all the different settings and features our TENS units offer.


EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Both devices look very similar and use delivery of electrical stimulation, but it’s what is being stimulated and the purpose that differs. TENS treatment targets nerves for the purpose of relieving pain, while EMS stimulates the muscles for the purpose of strengthening and rehabilitating.

  • TENS Machines

    Are recommended when you have joint or nerve pain that is typically chronic. These are conditions like arthritis, back pain, and foot pain. Sometimes it’s even recommended for migraine pain.

  • EMS Machines

    Are recommended to relax or strengthen muscles and are used to often treat muscle spasms, poor circulation, or muscle atrophy.

Our EMS TENS Unit offers the best of both worlds. With 8 EMS modes and 9 TENS modes you can choose between therapies based on your current needs.


Remember, it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine which type of electrical stimulation would benefit you the most.

    Intensity Levels

    Our wireless and 8-Mode TENS units have 20 intensity levels, while our 5-mode unit has a total of 16. The EMS TENS Unit has 40 intensity levels making it the most versatile machine we offer. Multiple intensity levels allow for users to fine-tune their treatment to their needs. Mild settings are a good place to start for most conditions, letting you work up to more intense treatment as you grow accustomed to electric nerve or muscle stimulation.


    Our Wireless TENS Unit as well as the 8-mode unit both offer a long-lasting rechargeable lithium battery that offers 10 hours of continual use. The battery can be charged via a USB port for on-the-go therapy. The 5-Mode TENS Unit and EMS TENS Unit use a set of AAA batteries which can be swapped out when needed.


    The wireless and 5-mode TENS units operate on a single output. This means the electrical power used in the treatment is split between two sets of electrode pads. Our 8-mode design and EMS TENS are slightly different, with a dual channel output that uses the same power supply for both sets of pads. This offers more intense massage relief.


    All of our TENS units offer timed therapy sessions to ensure you get exactly the level of treatment you need. Both 8-mode and 5-mode models can be adjusted for the span of time you want (see chart above for details) while the wireless unit offers 15 minute sessions. The EMS TENS unit offers customizable sessions anywhere from 5 to 90 minutes long.

    Electrode Pads

    Our TENS units come with a set of electrode pads, which are attached to different areas of the body to deliver electronic nerve stimulation. They can be placed in different configurations, and target any area to treat pain. Their self-adhering design allows you to reuse them for up to 20 sessions, after which time you can replace them with our Universal Pad Replacements.

    Our Recommendations for... 

    See how each of our TENS units stand out, with recommendations for a range of common needs.

    TENS Unit for Travel or Portability

    Travel or Portability

    Taking your TENS treatment on the go is a great way to manage pain, letting you resume daily activities without hassle. Our Wireless TENS Unit is the perfect option, as it allows you to attach the electrode pads without the hassle of wires, while also taking advantage of the rechargeable battery which features 10 hours of continuous use. The 8-Mode TENS Unit also has a rechargeable battery, alongside the widest selection of different settings and treatment modes.

    EMS TENS Unit


    The Vive EMS TENS unit is the best EMS TENS combo. This device can be used for both muscle and nerve stimulation, making it a versatile option based on your current needs. The 22 therapy modes and 40 intensity levels allow you to target sore and fatigued muscles and the ability to treat chronic pains like arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, and plantar fasciitis.

    TENS Unit for Plantar Fasciitis

    Plantar Fasciitis

    TENS units are a good way to manage plantar fasciitis pain as the tendon heals, letting you get back to your regular life sooner. For the widest range of features try the 8-Mode TENS Unit which boasts 8 different therapy modes, 20 intensity levels, and four individual electrode pads which fit comfortably to feet. Our 5-Mode TENS is another good option, with 16 intensity settings and a good selection of therapy modes of its own.

    EMS TENS Unit

    Muscle Pain

    For fatigued, sore, or tight muscles you’ll want to utilize electrical muscle stimulation over TENS. The EMS TENS unit can specifically target muscles over nerves to strengthen and rehabilitate them. Its 40 intensity levels with 2-channel output gives you the option to completely customize your therapy. You can even use the massage mode to deliver a relaxing vibration that loosens tight muscles. This unit is our most versatile device allowing you to also utilize TENS therapy for other joint or nerve pain.

    Budget Friendly TENS Unit

    Budget Friendly

    If you’re trying TENS for the first time or want to minimize expenses, you can still get quality treatment without breaking the bank. Take a look at the features offered by our 5-mode TENS unit, which includes 4 electrode pads, an adjustable timer, and a combination of five therapy modes and 16 intensity settings that makes it easy to personalize your treatment.

    TENS Unit for Sciatica


    Sciatica is a back condition that can result in pain that spreads down the leg, making it difficult to enjoy everyday activities. While physical therapy may be necessary to see long-term improvement, the painful symptoms of sciatica can be managed by our 8-mode TENS unit. It offers treatment programs specifically designed for back and leg pain, and can offer relief in as little as 10 minutes.

    TENS Unit for Cramps


    Everyday pains like cramps need a treatment that is simple to use and readily available. Our 5-mode TENS unit offers a paired-back design that can offer on-the-spot treatment in 5, 10, or 15 minute sessions, and can be placed anywhere needed to treat menstrual, back, leg cramps and more. Our 8-mode TENS unit offers a few more massage modes as well as a rechargeable battery which can stay fully loaded for when you need it.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who can’t benefit from a good massage? The truth is, getting the best treatment is about arming yourself with the information you need. See what others are asking, and get answers you can trust.

    Q: How does a TENS unit work?

    A: TENS units work by delivering targeted electrical stimulation to particular areas of the body. A low level of electric current passes through the muscles, causing the body to release higher levels of its own natural painkillers, called endorphins. When used regularly, TENS units can be an effective response to chronic pain.

    Q: Is using a TENS unit safe?

    A: Though all TENS units use electric current as part of its unique treatment, the level of amps is carefully calibrated at a low level, and poses no risk to the user. If you have any concerns, consult with your doctor.

    Q: How often should you use a TENS unit?

    A: TENS units are just like any exercise or massage therapy--it’s a good idea to start slow and work your way up. It’s best to begin your treatment routine with a single 15 minute therapy session, so see how your muscles react to the stimulation. After you get used to it, you can use your TENS unit up to three times per day.

    Q: Is a prescription needed for Electric Stimulation Therapy?

    A: While there are prescription TENS units available, all our units are available over the counter, and provide all of the pain-relieving benefits. This lets buyers treat their pain quickly and effectively.

    Q: Will the device help with inflammation?

    A: TENS therapy is perfect for treating inflammation, as it helps treat muscle fibers well below the surface. This allows you to find relief from conditions like pinched nerves, sciatica, and degeneration of discs.

    Q: How can I make my TENS pads sticky again?

    A: This question is a simple one for long-time Vive customers. Simply try our TENS replacement pads for a fresh stick that will deliver reliable TENS therapy.

    Need More Help?

    Get more information on all Vive Health products by talking to our customer service and product specialists. Call between 8:30am and 9pm EST daily at 1-800-487-3808 or email us at

    Juan Lopez
    Juan Lopez

    Juan Lopez is part of the product development and improvement team at His understanding of products and vast knowledge of consumer needs makes it easy for him to provide helpful information on choosing the best products.

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