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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS EMS Muscle Stimulator: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Use

iTENS small wing kit with refill gel pads

A TENS EMS muscle stimulator is a tool that provides combined nerve and muscle stimulation. In Electrical Muscle Stimulator (EMS) mode, it works by delivering electric current to the muscles, which helps to strengthen and tone them. Additionally, it has a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) mode, which blocks pain signals and triggers the release of endorphins. Using this device is easy. The user should clean the treatment area, apply the electrodes, turn on the unit, and adjust the settings.

Electrotherapy devices are important for treating pain and are drug-free and non-invasive. Doctors may prescribe TENS and EMS for body pain and injury recovery. The convenience of this combined therapy extends beyond treatment centres, as portable devices are also readily accessible for personal use. People can purchase them at online retailers or local pharmacies. This article will provide information about a TENS and EMS device, including how it functions and correct usage.

What is a TENS and EMS Muscle Stimulator?

A TENS and EMS muscle stimulator is a portable device that combines nerve and muscle stimulation. Each type of therapy has specific purposes, and when used together, they provide a broader array of natural pain relief and muscle-strengthening benefits. Consequently, it is gaining popularity as a useful tool among both pain management professionals and individuals.

TENS is a form of stimulation that uses low-voltage electrical currents to alleviate pain. Meanwhile, EMS is a physical therapy device that utilises electrical pulses to cause muscle contractions. Hence, both stimulation programs provide effective treatment for medical conditions and pain symptoms. Accordingly, the combination unit is available in the market in different models.

The most common TENS and EMS devices utilise wires and run on disposable batteries. In contrast, certain units are wireless and feature a rechargeable battery, typically a lithium-ion battery. This allows users to control the therapy manually or with the use of a smartphone through Bluetooth. Also, some devices have preset programs which provide a more direct treatment approach.


  • Comprehensive pain relief – TENS therapy can interfere with pain signals, while EMS widen tight muscles and promotes muscle relaxation.
  • Versatile and customisable therapy – the combination unit allows users to switch between TENS and EMS treatment modes.
  • Muscle rehabilitation – EMS, with the support of TENS, can aid in muscle recovery from sports injuries and other forms of muscle damage.
  • Time and cost-efficiency – Individuals can save both time and money compared to using separate compact devices for each therapy.
  • Portability – the tools are typically compact and lightweight, offering users the convenience of easily using the medical device anywhere.

A shirtless man wearing iTENS on his arm

How a TENS and EMS Muscle Stimulator Works

In general, TENS and EMS muscle stimulators have two modes. In TENS mode, it sends electrical impulses from electrodes to target the nerves. Meanwhile, an EMS mode focuses on delivering electric current to the underlying muscles. TENS functions through two mechanisms, which include blocking pain signals and triggering the release of endorphins.

When the machine stimulates the sensory nerves, it can effectively block the transmission of pain messages by closing the gate. This mechanism has the potential to reduce the perception of aches and offer temporary relief. Additionally, TENS can trigger the release of endorphins. These are the natural painkillers of the body.

Endorphins function as neurotransmitters that suppress pain signals and induce feelings of well-being. When using the EMS mode, the electrical stimulation causes muscle contractions. This action is beneficial for improving blood circulation in the treatment area. Increased blood flow can help in transporting oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. This aids in muscle recovery and decreases muscle soreness.

Understanding Frequencies and Intensities

In TENS and EMS therapy, the term “frequency” describes how often electrical signals occur each second, measured in Hertz (Hz). Typically, lower frequencies, ranging from 1 to 10 Hz, help in relieving pain, while higher frequencies, between 50 and 100 Hz, are effective for muscle stimulation.

On the other hand, intensity measures the strength of the electrical current sent to the body, usually in Milliamps (mA). People can adjust it to control how strong the sensation is. Overall, finding the right frequency and intensity is key to maximising the benefits of TENS and EMS therapy.

Step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app

How to Use a TENS and EMS Muscle Stimulator

Operating a TENS and EMS muscle stimulator is a straightforward process. Before beginning, ensure that the tool is fully charged or has new batteries. The next step is to clean and dry the treatment area. This is to ensure good contact of electrodes in the skin. Then, gently place the pads in the skin, following the correct pad placement.

Once the adhesive electrodes are in place, the user can activate the unit to make any necessary adjustments to the settings. This requires adjusting the frequency, intensity, or duration of the therapy. Some machines have preset programs. Thus, users may select the appropriate treatment. Nevertheless, health professionals recommend starting with the lowest setting and gradually increasing it to a comfortable level.

After everything is in place, the person can activate the unit for the stimulation to start. During the process, the user may experience a tingling and relaxing sensation. The duration of the treatment may vary depending on the condition. Once the treatment session is complete, the user should turn off the device and gently remove the adhesive electrode pads for future use.

Safety Precautions

People should follow safety guidelines while using electrotherapy devices. Usually, manufacturers provide instructions for users to read. Additionally, individuals may seek guidance from healthcare professionals for their therapy sessions. They may prescribe duration, frequency of use, and ideal settings for the condition.

Additionally, it is vital to observe proper pad placement. Avoid placing electrodes on areas that are sensitive, such as the eyes, throat, top of the head, and spine. Moreover, do not use electrotherapy devices while submerged in water. Lastly, TENS and EMS machines should not be used while sleeping, driving, or operating heavy machinery.


A TENS and EMS muscle stimulator is a versatile device that combines nerve and muscle stimulation for pain relief and muscle rehabilitation. It works by sending electrical impulses in TENS mode, blocking pain signals, and triggering the release of natural painkillers. In EMS mode, it stimulates muscle contractions, enhancing blood circulation for improved muscle recovery. With various models, including wireless options with preset programs, these devices offer a convenient approach to managing pain and promoting muscle health.

Using a TENS and EMS device involves simple steps for effective therapy. Users should ensure the device is charged, clean the treatment area, and correctly place the adhesive electrodes. Adjust settings gradually, starting from the lowest, and activate the unit for a tingling sensation. Safety precautions are crucial, with attention to proper pad placement and avoiding sensitive areas. Individuals interested in wireless TENS and EMS devices may check iTENS.

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