The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and the Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) techniques can relieve pain using an electrical current. Yet, there are some differences between them that you should understand to choose the most appropriate treatment.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
TENS is a nerve stimulation technique that intends to relieve pain using an electrical current. It involves sending tiny, low-voltage electrical impulses to a specific nerve via electrodes placed on the skin to modify how neurons send signals and prevent the pain signals from reaching the brain.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
EMS is an electrical stimulation technique that intends to stimulate the muscles using an electrical current to achieve a specific result. It involves delivering tiny, low-voltage electrical impulses to the muscle through electrodes placed on the skin to contract the muscles. These muscle contractions can have two very different purposes: first, eliminating inflammation, and second, strengthening the muscles without involving the nervous system, which avoids pain and fatigue.
How Do TENS and EMS Work?
A TENS machine or TENS unit consists of an electrical impulse generator connected to electrodes placed on your skin. It works by delivering tiny electrical impulses to stimulate the devices that cause pain. TENS machines work in three different ways. The first is blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. The next one is to stimulate the production of natural painkillers, and lastly, it can improve blood circulation.
On the other hand, an EMS machine works in more or less the same way. Also, it consists of an electrical impulse generator connected to electrodes placed on your skin around the muscle to treat. It also performs by delivering small electrical impulses directly to the muscle, which causes it to contract. It improves blood circulation from muscle contractions and repeatedly relaxes, which serves to induce muscle relaxation, minimize inflammation, prevent muscle atrophy, fast muscle healing, and stimulate muscle growth.
In conclusion, TENS machines stimulate pain relief nerves, while EMS machines are designed to strengthen and rehabilitate muscles.