Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a form of pain management or muscle relaxation treatment. It stimulates sensory signals that help block pain pathways and pain signals from reaching the brain; which reduces the pain felt. It sends low-voltage electrical impulses to a specific nerve using electrodes attached to the skin’s surface. An example of an effective TENS machine is the iTENS unit; one of the most innovative TENS machines yet, with its wireless capabilities. Despite having a significant difference in terms of effects towards the body, many still struggle to differentiate between a TENS and EMS machine.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is a form of muscle toning or muscle activating treatment. It mainly targets muscle groups and provides muscle contractions with the help of electrical impulses. In short, EMS primarily focuses on sending motor signals towards the targeted muscle groups. To clarify the difference between a TENS and EMS machine, the electrical impulses they send separate them from one another. When using a TENS machine, like the iTENS unit, you would only experience a tingling or buzzing-like sensation to where the pads were applied rather than a significant contraction as seen on an EMS machine.
TENS and EMS Machine Key Differences
A more direct explanation between these machines would be that a TENS machine mainly sends out a sensory-stimulating impulse. In contrast, the EMS machine would send out a motor stimulating impulse. Despite having a significant difference between them, a TENS and EMS machine still have the same contraindications. People with pacemakers and heart problems should try their best to stay clear from treatments involving electrical impulses.
To sum it all up, the purpose of using a TENS and EMS machine differs significantly. A TENS machine should be used for people experiencing low back pain, nerve pain, labor pain, and arthritis, which all have pain as one of their main manageable issues. On the other hand, an EMS machine would be used to contract muscles to prevent muscle atrophy (a decrease in muscle strength and size), especially those affected at injury or surgical sites, and maintain muscle tone. Both machines back then had portability issues, but with modern technological advances, like the wireless iTENS machine, they are now easily portable and available to the public. They can now be used in the comfort of one’s home or out and about.