The Best Tens Unit for Shoulder Pain: Massage & Pain Relief 

 April 29, 2021

By  Pham

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, otherwise known as TENS, is a drug-free way of treating chronic pain, joint and acute muscle pain like carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. The best tens unit for shoulder pain has been used over the years by physical therapists and chiropractors for treatment and is available without a prescription.

These devices can be delivered to your doorstep because they are drug-free and safe treatments that send electrical pulses to the nerves of the affected parts of the body through some soft pare attached to the skin. They relieve pain by blocking any pain messages, increasing endorphins, and improving blood circulation to the target area.

Since there are many tens units in the market today, we took the liberty of curating a list of the top tens units in the market, including a detailed buying guide to help you make an informative decision.

Best Tens Unit for Shoulder Pain

1. NueMedics Tens Unit Machine

Tens Unit Machine Pulse Massager 24 Massage Modes Rechargeable Muscle...
  • USER FRIENDLY - Modes are clearly labelled as "Neck",...
  • WHAT IS INCLUDED ? :1x NueMedics Tens 24 Controller, 6 Large...
  • Important Note: As a safety feature, the intensity button will remain...

NueMedics Tens Unit is a user-friendly unit with a large backlit LCD that is easy to see and has different modes that come in different labels. The LCD screen includes the battery life indicator that tells you when you need to recharge the built-in lithium rechargeable battery that lasts for days. Some of these tens unit modes include the neck, elbow, shoulder, acu for acupressure level therapy, random, knead and tap, to name a few among the 24 pre-programmed modes.

The NueMedics tens device comes with a treatment point chart that is quite helpful and inclusive is ten reusable stick-on electrode pads. The tens unit is suitable for individuals looking for a drug-free pain management method to relieve pain in the joints, shoulders, or neck, the less tech-savvy individuals, and bodybuilders who need muscle stimulation because it features EMS settings.

  • Pros
  • 24 pre-programmed modes and ten pads to relieve pain.
  • A combination of TENS and PMS.
  • It makes a complete massager set.
  • Dual-channel.
  • Large size LCD that shows you graphical information.
  • Protective case for the screen and the controller.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty.
  • Cons
  • Some massage modes need a lot of charging time.

2. TENS 7000 Unit

TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit with Accessories - TENS Unit Muscle...
  • OVER 1M TENS 7000 DEVICES SOLD: A consumer over the counter favorite...
  • A LEADER SINCE 2008: A 10+ year favorite TENS device among medical...
  • GET IMMEDIATE PAIN RELIEF: TENS machine comes with multiple TENS...
  • DUAL CHANNEL TENS UNIT: The TENS 7000 TENS unit provides TENS therapy...

The TENS 7000 might be one of the best tens units with thousands of online reviews to help you relieve chronic pain for your shoulders and other parts of the body. It features five different massage modes, and it is a popular treatment because of its ease of use and effectiveness. It includes two knobs on top of the unit that controls the intensity levels or the pulse amplitude of the electrical stimulation.

Besides, TENS 7000 is a dual-channel and therefore can treat two body parts simultaneously but lack extra features such as a backlit screen and USB charging. This is a tens unit that is very effective in offering pain relief compared to prescription-strength pain relievers. The TENS 7000 massager is a handheld unit that includes four reusable electrode pads, and the unit is easily adjustable and simple to program.

  • Pros
  • Dual-channels.
  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Affordable price.
  • Multiple therapy modes.
  • Cons
  • The massage device cannot be charged with a USB.

3. Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit

Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle Stimulator for Pain...
  • Multi-functional Tens Massager with 24 Preprogrammed Massage Mod...
  • Non-Invasive, Non-Drug Choice for Relieving Pain. Great Device ...
  • A/B Dual Channels Tens with 24 Modes, 20 Levels Intensity and...
  • Free Dust-Proof Drawstring Storage Bag, Reusable Fastening Cable Ties...
  • Built in Powerful Rechargeable Lithium Battery-- up to 20 Hours of...

Belifu TENS unit offers ten electrode pads that focus electronic waves to your shoulders and different parts of the body for pain relief in different body areas at a go. They are a dual-channel, meaning they can simultaneously treat two pain locations and have EMS settings stimulate muscle growth. With ten reusable pads, you are guaranteed that the whole area will be treated, and with twin channels, you can adjust and set pulses independently.

Besides, the Belifu TENS Unit comes in 24 preset settings, including EMS settings that stimulate your muscle growth, and it helps to treat back shoulder and neck pain, inflamed discs/ joints, and provides relief to your muscles. With 20 levels of intensity, you can adjust the therapy strength according to your comfortability. The tens unit is powered by lithium batteries that can last up to 20 hours when used continuously.

  • Pros
  • Perfect pain relief product for your injured shoulder, neck, lower back, and other parts of your body.
  • Lightweight and portableIt has an automatic shut-off timer.
  • Free dustproof drawstring storage bag.
  • Cons
  • Pads don’t hold properly.

4. TechCare Plus Massager

Tens Unit Plus 24 Rechargeable Electronic Pulse Massager Machine Multi...
  • Intended Use of TechCare Massager: To be used for temporary relief of...
  • Features: FEATURES: 24 massage modes, includes stimulation of Tapping,...
  • Pain Relief: Stimulates the muscles in order to improve and facilitate...
  • Large Screen LCD: Large screen lcd and easy user interface makes it...

The TechCare Plus tens unit is one of the best devices for your shoulders and other parts of the body like the neck, lower back available for home use, and comes at an affordable price. With 24 massage modes, each mode uses a different massage technique similar to the ones you might get from a massage therapist, including deep tissue, tapping, acupuncture, and cupping, to name a few. Each massage mode is unique, offering different benefits when applying the mode needed for your pain management.

TechCare Plus Massager boasts of a large backlit screen, making it easy to view, and a 20-hour battery life that saves you a lot of money on batteries because it's USB-chargeable. You can use a tens device for your shoulder pain by increasing or decreasing the treatment strength by pressing the round control toggles.

  • Pros
  • 24 massage modes.
  • 20-hour rechargeable lithium battery.
  • Backlit screen.
  • 20 intensity levels.
  • Cons
  • No pad placement diagrams found in the manual.
  • No carrying case.

5. iReliev TENS+ EMS Therapeutic Wearable System

iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Therapeutic Wearable System Wireless TENS...
  • 2 in 1 Wireless System: iReliev Therapeutic Wearable System Combines...
  • WHAT IS TENS?: Stands for "Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve...
  • WHAT IS EMS?: Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) also known as...
  • The convenience of wireless makes this system extremely easy to use...
  • Includes: (1) Hand Control, (2) Wireless Pods, (2) 3″ x 5″...

iReliev TENS device is a portable small and wireless system that combines TENS or Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation unit with an EMS( Electrical Muscle Stimulation) to treat chronic pain. It features 14 pre-programmed settings, including seven that offer pain relief, with one arthritis and six muscle conditioning settings in the twin tens device. The pain management control device features two pods and some reusable self-stick electrodes attached to the body offering 8 TENS settings.

Combined with an EMS unit, the wireless iReliev TENS massager can build or rebuild your muscle, and also EMS can warm up your muscles before you indulge in exercises. The EMS unit has six settings, and you can set the tens EMS at 5 minutes intervals. Besides, this tens unit packs two wireless pods, a remote hand control, two self-adhesive reusable electrodes, a lithium-ion battery, USB/AC adaptor, and a carrying case.

  • Pros
  • Rechargeable lithium battery.
  • Wireless tens device.
  • Suitable for people looking to get pain relief and muscle stimulation at a go.
  • Ideal for lower back pain.
  • 25 levels of intensity.
  • Cons
  • The tens unit does not offer direct instructions, and it may take a while before you figure them out.

What to Consider Before Purchasing the Best Tens Units for Shoulder Pain

1. Power Source

Most tens shoulder units are either charged via USB or battery-powered and are not plugged directly into the main supply, with the most being battery-powered. Which battery the unit uses depends because some need three AAA batteries and others require a 9-volt battery. However, in today's age, most consumers may prefer getting a unit that can be charged via USB, and they are on the rise, but the battery types are still dominating the market.

Which power source you choose should be up to your needs; if you don't want the hassle of buying batteries, you should opt for the USB charging unit. However, a rechargeable battery may be expensive initially, but you save more than replacement batteries over time.

2. Timer

Pre-programmed timers can be one of the handiest features of tens units, especially if you want to set your machine to use it for a predetermined amount of time. The timer lengths usually vary depending on the unit, and therefore make sure you check while you are shopping. Some tens units feature an automatic shut-off that is short on some devices, causing frustration when you need longer pain relief.

3. Number of Channels

Every device comes with different channels, intensity levels, and frequency modes that you can set according to your pain level. Most units have a dual-channel that comes with independent intensity controls, and this machine type allows you to use either two or four pads at a go. The number of channels a tens device has equated to the number of pads that can be used.

A dual tens unit with two pads means you can use different intensity levels on different body parts; therefore, it's important to opt for a dual-channel device than a single channel machine. The price between the two hardly has a difference, so there's no argument for choosing a single-channel device. There are also quad-channel devices in the market that allow running different programs on different channels, also known as fully isolated channels. They are ideal if you are struggling with back pain because they come with more pads, and hence you can cover a wider area.

4. Programs and Modes

Before purchasing tens devices, ensure you check the different modes and programs that every device comes with to ensure you get the best of your needs. Cheap tens units may not offer an individual the best variety of programs and modes. Still, the expensive models may be too complex for you, especially if you struggle with modern technology and are looking for a device for casual use.

Some preset modes that tens devices come with include tapping, acupuncture, cupping, and hand pressure, making the unit simple to use. Other tens machines come with fewer modes but can fine-tune the pulse rate and pulse width, enabling you to customize your settings and treat any specific pain. However, using a tens customized device means you will have to use more input and be familiar with terms like wavelength and pulse width.

5. Intensity Levels

Apart from different programs and modes, tens units come with different intensity levels, with each machine coming with up to 50 levels. When shopping, check how powerful the device is, how the intensity is adjusted and how many intensity levels the tens unit generates, with most devices having 20 intensity levels. You can test the device to check how much power a tens unit has, or you can check from reviews online because some reviewers talk about the power offered.

6. EMS

Some tens units can include EMS (electrical muscle stimulation), which works by contracting the muscle, making it ideal for sportspeople looking to manage their pain level and maintain their strength. It's different from TEMS because TENS operate by relieving pain and blocking the pain signals from accessing the brain. You can opt for a device that does both to get the best out of your device and because these TEMS units also help with restless leg syndrome and muscle spasms.

7. Interferential

The inferential function is an essential function found in some devices and gives you another pain relief option. The feature works by sending two electric pulse levels to the pain location, which interrupts and confuses the pain signals being sent to the brain.

8. Screen and Wireless System

Finding a screen that is appropriate for your needs should offer you the best readability and size. Some screens feature separate controls while others are touchscreen, so you should think of what best serves your needs because having a system you cant read or operate can be very frustrating.

Additionally, Tens units in the market have been on the rise. They comprise either a wearable pad with built-in controls or wireless pads that use a separate handheld unit to operate. Some of these devices are advanced and can be controlled with a smartphone app.

9. Size

Size is an important factor to consider, especially if you are looking for a tens unit that you can use during labor because these devices vary in size. Check how much the tens unit weighs, its dimensions, and how it can be stored while going if it comes with a carrying case.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What’s the difference between Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and EMS?

TENS is an abbreviation for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and EMS for Electrical Muscle Stimulator (same as PMS, Power Muscle Stimulator). The TENS are responsible for pulsing to stimulate nerves to release endorphins which in return relieve pain. In contrast, EMS or PMS stimulate the muscles electrically and warm them up before exercising to build them.

2. Are TENS units safe for pain relief?

Using a TENS unit as directed makes the devices safe for most people, but they have electrical impulses that cause a tingling sensation that might be uncomfortable for some people. However, not everyone can use the TENS units, especially pregnant people, have allergies or skin sensitivity, and while driving or in water. The adhesive could be problematic to allergic individuals. Still, there are hypoallergenic pads available in the market today. Also, pregnant women with high blood pressure should not use the TENS units without consulting with a doctor or physical therapist. 

Michael Rodriguez

I'm a registered massage therapist out of Vancouver BC. I absolutely hate the information I find on Google about this industry and I started this blog to debunk these myths.

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