Should I Use TENS or EMS?

If you've been looking for an electrotherapy solution, you might be confused by some of the differences between electrotherapy machines.

One of the most common areas to be confused about are the differences between a TENS machine and an EMS machine.

Is a TENS unit a muscle stimulator? Does an EMS machine offer pain relief?

All your questions about TENS and EMS will be answered so you can make an informed buying decision and get the relief you need.


TENS and EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulator) are not interchangeable; they offer solutions to different problems. They use different frequencies, waveforms, and programs to achieve their results. Which one you choose will depend on the symptoms you're suffering from.

TENS units are used for pain relief. The device sends electrical signals directly to your body's nerve cells, and those signals disrupt your nerve cells' ability to send pain signals to your brain.

TENS units do not stimulate your muscles, nor are they considered as being a massager. Also, TENS units do not cure the underlying problem. Their only purpose is to provide short-term pain relief to the user. You can read more about "what is a TENS unit" here.

If you want muscle stimulation or a muscle massage, you'll need an EMS machine, also known as an NMES machine.

So, how does an electronic pulse massager work?

An EMS machine stimulates your muscles rather than your nerve cells like a TENS unit. When you use an electrical muscle stimulation therapy, it will force your muscles to rapidly contract and relax.

This makes it the ideal solution for those whose muscles are atrophying, need to be strengthened, or are sore.

An EMS machine is not expressly designed as a pain relief device; though it certainly can give you pain relief by relaxing and massaging your sore muscles.

Also unlike a TENS unit, it is actually possible to heal your muscles and get longer and possibly permanent relief. However, this is only for those who need muscular therapy or muscular rehabilitation.

Those who only use an EMS for muscle soreness should not expect permanent results.

If you want even more information on the differences between TENS and EMS, you can read our full page comparison here.

TENS & EMS Combo Units

For some people, the choice between a TENS unit and EMS machine is difficult to make since they might need both capabilities.

Let's say you're suffering from chronic pain and you also want EMS capabilities. Are you doomed to having to buy two different machines? Or worse yet, having to choose one and go without the other?

Luckily, there is a solution for those who want both TENS and EMS capabilities. They're called TENS EMS combo units.

A TENS EMS combo unit is a device that offers the pain relief capabilities of a TENS unit while also being able to provide the muscle stimulation of an EMS machine. You'll be able to save money by buying a two in one device.

Below you can find a couple of popular TENS & EMS machines in the market.

  • HealthmateForever T24AB
  • Pure Pulse Duo EMS And Tens Combo Device
  • HealthmateForever Pro 8AB (You can read a detailed review of this TENS model here)
  • InTENSity Twin Stim III - Read more about this product here
  • HealthmateForever T24AB
  • LG-TEC Combo Unit

Side By Side TENS Units Comparison

Pick the TENS Units you want to evaluate and compare specs, ratings, prices