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How to use a TENS units & EMS machines for nerve damage and pain? Placement of electrode pads

Nerves are not as strong as bones nor as dense as muscles, but without them, neither of the latter two would be able to move freely. That is why when there are injuries or pathologies that involve them, the patient's quality of life is tremendously deteriorated.

Electrotherapy, especially in its TENS modality, can be an alternative to drugs to alleviate nerve damage without altering the chemical composition of the body with drugs that can be counterproductive in the long term. That is why today we will teach you how to use it.

How to use TENS machines to relieve pinched nerve pain?

We will start by showing you how to use a TENS units to relieve pain generated by pinched nerves, or even tremors and weakness generated by degenerative nerve conditions.

Where to place the electrodes?

To relieve nerve pain or reduce tremors, it is important to locate the area of pain precisely, and to know where it originates, since the effectiveness of the therapy will depend to a great extent on this. Once this is done, what should be done is to "enclose" this area in the middle of two pads, or even in a quadrant in case we have 4 of them in our device.

Which current to use?

In general, TENS devices have several programs that automatically adjust the frequency for each type of ailment or objective, with programs for muscle damage, arthrosis and neuropathies. However, this may not be your case and you may have to adjust the frequencies manually. In this case, take into account the following guide:

  • Frequencies between 2HZ and 4Hz: endorphin release, relaxation and pain relief.
  • Frequency between 20Hz and 70Hz: nerve rehabilitation, reduction of tremors and muscle weakness.
  • Frequency between 80Hz and 100Hz: relief of severe pain, chronic pain in muscles and joints.
  • Frequencies of 100Hz and above: as indicated by the physician.

Best TENS units to treat nerve damage

Below we share with you a list of the best TENS units you can find on the market to help you recover from your nerve damage without any problems.

Belifu - Dual channel electromuscular stimulator with 24 modes and 10 electrode pads
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 24 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 20 hours)
  • Electrodes: 10 Pads
  • Display: Touch
  • Size: 5.12" x 2.56" x 0.39" - 0.35 lbs
  • Portable and small size
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Long battery life (up to 20 hours)
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Not for muscle hypertrophy
  • Does not include user manual
  • No heat therapy
The Belifu muscle stimulator is the perfect combination of TENS and EMS electrostimulation modalities, through which you can apply massages to relieve pain in a natural way, as well as generate muscle contractions that increase the size, strength and tone of the muscle, all in a completely safe and natural way, stimulating the body's natural processes.

It has 24 modes of use and 20 intensity levels that can be applied in isolation to each of the device's channels thanks to its dual channel function, allowing different therapies to be applied to separate areas of the body. In addition, it has a session timer mode and automatic shut-off that will allow you to give greater efficiency to your sessions and make better use of the energy of its high-capacity lithium battery.

IRELIEV - DUAL CHANNEL TENSION PAIN RELIEF MASSAGER SYSTEM WITH 8 MASSAGE MODES
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 8 Modes
  • Intensity: 25 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: 3 AAA Batteries
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 2.14" x 5.5" x 7.08" - 0.33 lbs
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Portable and small size
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Good quality
  • Few types of programs
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
  • Battery operated
This electric massage unit provided by iReliev is one of the most versatile and, at the same time, simplest electrostimulation machines you can find, with 8 predefined modes of use 25 adjustable intensity levels, you can program it to fit your body's needs. Additionally, its dual channel function allows you to program more than one massage mode simultaneously to treat multiple areas of the body.

It has an interesting session timer function that allows you to adjust the duration of each therapy up to a maximum of 60 minutes. Its compact size allows it to be carried in your pocket, so you can take it with you from home to work, or on the road, and use it whenever you need it.

Neocarbon - Dual channel TENS/EMS muscle stimulator with 16 pads and travel case
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 24 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 10 hours)
  • Electrodes: 16 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Portable and small size
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • No heat therapy
  • No touch screen included
The Neocarbon electrostimulation kit includes everything you could need for the treatment of ailments, thanks to its device incorporating TENS and EMS electrotherapy modalities, and dual channel function combined with 24 modes of use and 20 levels of intensity, which means that you can apply complete treatments to different parts of the body simultaneously.

The use of TENS and EMS that this device provides will allow you to use them to apply relaxing massages that relieve any ailment in a natural way, stimulating the production of endorphins and blocking the body's pain signals, as well as electrical discharges that stimulate muscle movement, creating contractions that encourage the growth of muscle fibers, increasing the tone and strength of the muscles.

Med-Fit - 4 channels stimulator with 8 electrodes pads for pain relief fully rechargeable
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 24 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • 4 independent channels
  • Provides cramp relief
  • Portable Device
  • Promotes tissue healing
  • 24 programs
  • Few electrodes
  • Does not specify battery life
  • Does not specify intensity and size
The Med-Fit model BAL-906ª is a very complete rechargeable electrostimulation device of premium quality that has an incredible function of 4 individual channels that will give you a great coverage and a perfect effectiveness when applying different electrical massages simultaneously. It also has a large LCD screen that makes it especially easy to operate, so you can program your sessions with great ease.

It has 24 clinically proven massage programs, which are divided into 12 TENS therapy programs and 12 muscle stimulation training modes. It has a long-life rechargeable lithium battery that will give you a great autonomy of several hours of continuous use, eliminating the extra cost of buying replacement cylindrical batteries.

Irest Classic - Mini massager dual channel TENS unit with 6 massage modes and timer
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: 2
  • Modes/Programs: 6 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 20 hours)
  • Electrodes: 8 electrodes
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Includes user manual
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Portable and small size
  • Long battery life (up to 20 hours)
  • Includes carrying bag
  • No intensity levels specified
  • No heat therapy
  • Does not specify dimensions and weight
The compact electrostimulator of the iRest brand offers a combination of electrostimulation modalities, combining the benefits of TENS and EMS therapy, providing its users with a safe and drug-free method to treat ailments caused by different injuries or diseases, through the application of low-intensity electrical impulses.

It has 6 modes of use that emulate different types of massages to achieve different objectives, along with 10 levels of intensity that provides greater effectiveness. The package includes 1 control, 2 large electrodes, 2 small electrodes, 2 guide cables, 1 user's manual, 1 cable case and 1 treatment guide.

How to use EMS to strengthen muscles and prevent nerve damage?

EMS focuses on strengthening muscles, but there is a way to use the muscle contraction it generates to provide a gentle muscle massage that releases tension from the nerves, avoiding possible pain from injuries such as nerve impingement to name a few.

Where to place the electrodes?

The placement of the electrodes pads should be identical to what you would do when you want to train a muscle. In this case, the important thing will be the intensity of the current to be used.

What intensity to use?

The intensity is the most important thing in this case, since what we need is a high frequency current but less intense than normal, so that a slight muscular contraction is generated, not as intense as the one we would look for to achieve hypertrophy for example.

As in the case of TENS devices, EMS machines have various training programs that automatically adjust the intensity of the current, programs such as "Warm-up", "Massage", "Toning" or "Hypertrophy" can be present in your electro stimulator.

Best EMS machines to avoid nerve impingement

Here are the best EMS stimulators that you can use to get a relaxing massage that releases tension from your nervous system.

Compex Sport Elite 2.0 - Combo TENS/EMS with 12 electrodes pads and 10 programs
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes/Programs: 10 Programs
  • Intensity: 5 levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 12 electrodes
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 5.38" x 3.75" x 1"
  • Includes user manual
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Good quality
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Few intensity levels
  • No weight specified
The Compex Sport Elite 2.0 comes to the market as one of the most versatile and complete options to increase the results of physical conditioning and reduce the negative effects of the same through its TENS stimulation technology which allows an adequate management of the odor, reducing the intensity of the same and increasing the mobility and functionality of the muscles.

It includes 10 electrostimulation modes divided into 3 recovery modes, 2 warm-up modes, 1 TENS massage mode and 4 strength training modes. It also has 5 levels of progressive intensity that will help you improve your strength, endurance and combat various ailments caused by exhaustion.

Quad Stim - Portable Combo TENS/EMS muscle stimulator with 4 different channels for pain relief
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes/Programs: 32 Modes
  • Intensity: 100 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: 4 AA Batteries
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 5.4" x 3.1" x 1.1" - 0.6 lbs
  • TENS+EMS combo
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Prevents muscle atrophy
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes user manual
  • No heat therapy
  • No battery life specified
  • No touch screen included
The QuadStim brand electro stimulator is an incredibly versatile electrotherapy machine that combines the benefits of TENS currents and EMS electrostimulation, allowing you to treat a wide range of ailments while applying high-intensity electrical impulses to increase muscle fiber development and build muscle strength.

It has 8 customizable modes of use, of which 5 apply TENS current and 3 apply EMS current. It also has different levels of intensity, frequency and pulse radius, making it one of the most versatile electrostimulation machines on the market.

Belifu - 4 channels TENS EMS machine with 24 modes and 30 intensity levels
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 24 Programs
  • Intensity: 30 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable (20 hours of use)
  • Electrodes: 10 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Includes carrying bag
  • With 30 intensity levels
  • 24 modes
  • With 10 pads
  • Timer option
  • No heat therapy
  • No size specified
The Belice brand has one of the most powerful and versatile electrostimulation units available on the market, which comes in a package with everything you may need to apply a successful electro massage therapy, from the reusable pads to a travel bag to take your device with you wherever you go.

It has 24 modes of use and 30 intensity levels that you can program individually on each of its 4 channels, so you can apply them to different parts of the body, or even different people, simultaneously. Its high-powered battery will allow you to apply electrostimulation for 20 continuous hours, and is fully rechargeable through the current or from a USB charger.

DOMAS - Dual channel TENS EMS muscle stimulator with 6 massage modes and 13 pads for pain relief
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 2
  • Modes/Programs: 6 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Lithium Rechargeable (up to 10 hours)
  • Electrodes: 13 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • TENS+EMS combo
  • Long battery life (up to 10 hours)
  • Portable and small size
  • Prevents muscle atrophy
  • Improves joint mobility
  • No heat therapy
  • Does not specify size and weight
  • Some electrodes dry quickly
In DOMAS you will find one of the best electro stimulators available in the market, which allows both the relief of different types of pain, thanks to its TENS technology, and muscle stimulation through EMS electrical impulses. It has a dual output channel through which you can treat two areas of the body simultaneously and has 24 modes of use and 20 adjustable intensity levels.

It has a rechargeable lithium battery that allows you to use your device for up to 20 uninterrupted hours. It can be plugged into wall outlets, or charged via USB connection. It is a perfect alternative for the treatment of ailments without side effects and avoiding the use of drugs.

iReliev - Wireless TENS + EMS Combo for pain relief, arthritis & muscle strength with 8 pads
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 14 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 5 hours)
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • TENS+EMS combo
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Includes user manual
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Does not specify intensity levels
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • No heat therapy
The best feature of the iReliev wireless electro stimulator is that it has one of the most complete sets of equipment on the market. The wireless unit included in the package works with both TENS and EMS technology, and also includes 4 receiver pods, 8 electrodes, a dual interchangeable cable adapter, 1 carrying case, a starter guide and an instruction manual, making it one of the best-equipped packages available.

Its rechargeable battery gives you 8 to 10 hours continuous run time per full charge, and each of the pods provides 3 to 5 hours of continuous operation. With 8 TENS and 6 EMS preset programmes, along with 25 intensity levels, its 4-channel system allows you to perform isolated treatment on various muscle groups. Undoubtedly the most complete option you can find for the treatment of ailments.

Video: How to place the electrodes pads for nerve pain?

Electrodes for arms

Electrodes for arms
Electrodes for arms
Electrodes for arms

Electrodes for forearms

Electrodes for forearms
Electrodes for forearms

Electrodes for back

Electrodes for back
Electrodes for back
Electrodes for back

Electrodes for legs

Electrodes for legs
Electrodes for legs
Electrodes for legs

Electrodes for calf

Electrodes for calf
Electrodes for calf
Electrodes for calf

More types of EMS electrostimulators and TENS machines you should know about

What is nerve damage and what are the causes?

It refers to the damage that a nerve can receive because it has deteriorated over the years. Nerve damage can cause a nerve to atrophy, compressing or stretching in such a way that the electrical signals sent to the brain do not flow normally. But it can also generate a wear that makes these currents are not supported by the tissue, as when the insulation of a cable wears out and lets the voltage escape.

Among the main causes of nerve damage we can highlight the following:

  • Hypertension: an increase in the amount of blood flowing through the arteries can cause damage to the arteries, nerves and various vital organs. High blood pressure is one of the five most common causes of nerve damage in the world.
  • Recurrent injuries: these can be muscular, articular or even bone. The truth is that when we are injured, the nerve tissue that runs through the injured area becomes inflamed as well as the other tissues, which is why the characteristic pain of any injury is generated, since muscles and joints are covered by thousands of nerve branches that if constantly damaged can cause chronic and irreparable neuropathies.
  • Cardiac conditions: as with hypertension, a failure in blood pumping due to cardiac diseases such as arrhythmia, is potentially harmful both for the nerves and for the other tissues and organs of the body.
  • Diabetes: excess glucose in the blood changes its density and fluid composition, which gradually causes damage to all body tissues, including nerves.
  • Brain damage: whether due to a tumor, a stroke or a car accident, any damage to the brain will directly affect the entire nervous system.
  • Lifestyle: sedentary lifestyle, night life and addictions, especially to chemical drugs, have a negative impact on the nervous system that will wear it down over the years, until it generates some chronic and irreparable pathology.

What are the most common types of nerve damage?

The human body has between 31 and 33 pairs of nerves that originate in the spinal cord and extend throughout the body, joining bones, muscles and ligaments thanks to the fascia. This means that the number of diseases caused by damage to these nerves is quite large.

Below you will learn about the most common ones affecting society:

  • Nerve impingement: occurs when a nerve shortens or contracts in a section of it, generating a tension that will cause intense pain.
  • Nerve strain: occurs when a nerve is stretched too much, and maintains a longer than normal size for a considerable period of time, which generates weakness in this and the surrounding muscles. A common cause of this type of injury is pregnancy or muscle tears.
  • Nerve percussion: occurs when a sharp object pierces the nerve, which is common in total fractures of large bones such as the femur, humerus or tibia.
  • Nerve laceration: occurs when a nerve is cut with a sharp object, as may happen when receiving a stab wound, or by domestic accidents with a knife or some other lethal object of this style.

There are other classifications such as nerve freezing or damage from drug or heavy metal poisoning found in junk food and processed foods. Now, within each of these classifications there are a large number of injuries such as the following:

  • Neuromas.
  • Diabetic neuralgia.
  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Differences between TENS and EMS: Which is better for treating damaged nerves?

To alleviate some of the ailments and symptoms generated by nerve damage, we can count on electrotherapy. This has two modalities known as TENS and EMS, which use currents to achieve a physiological response of the organism.

The TENS current or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation uses more intense currents, but these have a much lower frequency, which makes it enter through the skin and reach the nerve endings. It can be used to stimulate the nerves, which is very useful to rehabilitate them after a muscle or nerve injury, although its main function is to increase the pain threshold that a nerve can tolerate.

On the other hand, EMS or electrical muscle stimulation uses currents of lower intensity but with a higher frequency, which go through the skin and reach the muscle directly to achieve muscle contraction. At first glance it seems that it does not have much to do for people with nerve damage, but the reality is much broader.

The main difference between both therapies is mainly focused on the user experience; while TENS generates a tingling and tingling in the skin, EMS is more "aggressive" by generating a direct muscle contraction. In addition, there is also the range of work of each; TENS focuses on the nerves, while EMS focuses on the muscles.

Although it may not seem like it, both can help you both relieve and prevent nerve damage. While you may think that only TENS has this quality, EMS can also do this because by working on the muscle tissue, it can be of great help in releasing tension on the nerves and preventing future neuropathies.

Contraindications in the use of electrodes and electrotherapy

</p> <h3>Contraindications for electrode placement</h3> <p>
The placement of the electrodes is of utmost importance in electrotherapy, whether TENS or EMS, so here are some things to keep in mind before starting a session:

  • Symmetrical placement: the negative and positive poles of each electrode should be connected symmetrically. That is to say, if we use two pads, we should use one positive and one negative pole in each one, while if we use four, the equivalence should be two positive and two negative.
  • Do not cross the electrodes: one electrode cannot be used in the lower train and another in the upper train and more importantly, never cross the electrodes from the left side to the right side of the body and vice versa, since the current path can negatively affect the patient's health. For this reason it is always recommended to use the electrodes in a localized way.
  • Motor point: at least one of the electrodes, whether positive or negative, must be positioned over the motor point, which is the point where the greatest force is achieved in the muscle in question.
  • Control the intensity: the size of the muscle must be taken into account when choosing the intensity of the current, since the less volume and size the muscle has, the lower the tolerated intensity will be.
  • Be careful with the skin: EMS or TENS should not be used on recently depilated areas since the pores will be open and this could generate skin sensitivity. Do not use on irritated or reddened areas, open wounds or recent scars.
</p> <h3>Contraindications for the use of electrostimulation</h3> <p>
Being a therapy that applies currents to the body, it cannot be used for all conditions, therefore its use should be avoided in cases where the user suffers from the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy.
  • Cardiac pacemakers.
  • Circulation disorders and problems.
  • Abdominal or inguinal hernias.
  • Neurological disturbances.
  • Tendency to bleed.
  • Skin irritation, burns or wounds.
  • Diseases that affect muscle metabolism, such as diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome (diabetes, hypertension and obesity).
  • High uric acid levels.
  • Metabolic disorders and metabolic pathologies.
  • Inflammatory pathologies.

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