Whether you suffer from arthritis, have aches and pains caused by old injuries, or want a way to recover faster after an especially tough workout at the gym, a muscle stimulator provides an effective and drug-free option for pain relief.
Muscle stimulators, or TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) pain management systems, use low voltage electrical currents to provide fast pain relief. Thanks to reusable pads, muscle stimulators can be used on almost any part of the body to provide instant relief for sore and aching muscles and joints.
TENS units are typically battery-operated handheld devices that allow the user to set the length of time and level of intensity. The pads are placed near nerves and the electrical impulses help to block or change the user’s perception of pain. Muscle stimulators can be used to help treat a series of ailments, including sore muscles, low back pain, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and diabetic neuropathy. There are some individuals who should not use TENS systems, including those who are pregnant, epileptic, have cancer or heart disease (it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before using a TENS system).
For those who are looking for a drug-free pain relief treatment that is fast and effective, check out our top picks for the best muscle stimulators.
1. NueMedics Tens Unit Machine Pulse Massager
For a muscle stimulator that takes the guesswork out of pain relief, we recommend the NueMedics Tens Unit Machine Pulse Massager. The NueMedics comes with a rechargeable controller that allows users to customize the level of intensity based on where on their body the six included electropads are placed. Users can choose from the neck, back, shoulder, elbow, hip, hand, foot and joint modes. Uses also have the option to select a kneading motion, a tapping motion or random. Thoughtful accessories like a USB and wall charger as well as a protective case make this a muscle stimulator that is easy for users to take with them on the go. A single charge can last for up to 20 hours of use.
Pros: Rechargeable controller, can select specific areas on the body for a custom massage, includes a protective case.
Cons: The unit includes individual A and B lines, but both lines must be for the same body area (ie. Can’t target hips and shoulder at the same time).
2. TechCare Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator
Easily choose from a wide variety of massage modes using the convenient touchscreen controller on the TechCare Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator. Deliver low-voltage pulses to the skin and nerves by choosing from the 24 massage modes, including Cupping, Deep Tissue, Tapping, Acupuncture, Foot, and Combo Massage modes. Users can also adjust the timer function on the unit, choosing between 20 and 60 minutes. Designed to mimic a smartphone, the TechCare unit includes a screen lock, USB, and easy touchscreen control to adjust the massage mode and 20 intensity modes. An A and B output connector enables users to target two areas separately at the same time. The rechargeable unit has an impressive battery life of 20 hours.
Pros: Easy to use touchscreen, 24 massage modes, A and B output connectors.
Cons: Users can differentiate the intensity of the massage in the A and B connectors, but not the type of massage.
3. iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit
Get two therapies in one machine with the iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit. The unit has a total of 14 modes to choose from, including seven TENS pain relief modes, one arthritis specific mode, and six EMS muscle strengthening and recovery modes. Users can choose from 25 levels of intensity to find what works best for them. The compact handheld unit also allows users to set a timer between five and 60 minutes and lock the unit while in use. We also like that iReliev includes both extra large and small electropads to give users an option that works for specific body parts. A belt clip holster also makes it easy to use the iReliev while mobile.
Pros: Combines TENS and EMS massages, has an arthritis specific mode, includes both large and small electropads.
Cons: The iReliev is not rechargeable and users must replace the AAA batteries.
4. Compex Edge 2.0 Muscle Stimulator
For athletes who don’t want to be sidelined by injuries or sore muscles, we recommend adding the Compex Edge 2.0 Muscle Stimulator to their gym bag. The muscle stimulator has four modes, including two strength modes, one recovery mode and one TENS setting. Designed to help restore strength and endurance by reducing pain and muscle fatigue, the Compex targets muscle fibers and delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to muscles when they need it the most, making it ideal for athletes who get lactic acid buildup. The rechargeable unit comes with a set of starter eletropads and an easy push-button design for adjusting the intensity of the modes.
Pros: Made specifically for athletes, helps to strengthen muscles and repair them, user-friendly design.
Cons: The Compex does not include as many mode options or electropads as other units.