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How to use a TENS units & EMS machines for TMJ, bruxism & jaw pain? Placement of electrode pads

The jaw is a joint with a limited movement and a very specific function, however, the amount of ligaments and muscles it has makes it a very resistant joint. Despite this, the possibility of suffering ailments in this area is quite high, and can occur for a wide variety of reasons.

That is why it is necessary to have methods to alleviate the pain that any of these diseases or disorders can cause. This is where TENS and EMS electrotherapy comes in. Below, we will show you how to use these physical therapy modalities to treat the symptoms of injuries and diseases that cause pain in the jaw joint.

How to use TENS machines to relieve bruxism pain?

Since the jaw is an abundantly innervated area, TENS treatment has a fairly high effectiveness rate, being one of the most popular methods to treat the symptoms of bruxism.

However, some knowledge is necessary, both about the muscle and nerve anatomy of the jaw, as well as how TENS devices work. Below, we will teach you everything you need to know to apply successful transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy.

Where to place the electrodes?

The jaw is a joint with abundant nerve tissue, so the pain caused by bruxism can become disabling, as well as extending from the jaw to the ears, neck and shoulders. For this reason, it is necessary to have a certain degree of knowledge about the anatomy of the jaw to make each session as effective as possible.

The most appropriate locations for the treatment of bruxism pain are as follows:

  • On the mandibular joint, at the level of the sphenomandibular ligament.
  • On the cheek, over the pterygoid muscle, aligned with the mandibular sensory branch of the trigeminal nerve.
  • On the temporalis muscle, acting on the sensory branches of the trigeminal nerve.

Which current to use?

In addition to pain relief, the use of TENS units can be of great help to perform a gentle muscle massage, which will be necessary to relax the jaw muscles.

The frequency setting will depend on which device is being used, and for a massage to relax the jaw muscles, the ideal current is between 35 and 45 Hz, a frequency low enough to interact with the nerve endings and also cause a slight muscle relaxation to reduce the symptoms of bruxism.

Best TENS units to treat mandibular pain

Given their effectiveness in the treatment of pain caused by bruxism and other diseases, it is possible to find a variety of effective TENS devices for this type of ailments. Among the most useful, we can find the following:

Etekcity - TENS unit machine for pain relief with 4 channels and 8 electrode pads
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 15 Programs
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • Independent control mode
  • Instant pain relief
  • 20 intensity levels
  • 15 different working modes
  • Portable device
  • Battery life not specified
  • Does not specify dimensions and weight
  • No heat therapy
The Etekcity massage unit offers one of the most comprehensive pain relief experiences you will find in a device of this type, with an innovative 4-channel function that allows you to apply different types of massage to individual areas of the body, increasing the effectiveness of electrostimulation therapy and delivering far superior results.

All its modes of use are FSA and HSA approved, making it completely safe for anyone to use. It can be operated and set up very easily. The package includes reusable electrodes coated with adhesive gel in 3 sizes: 2 units of 2x4 inches, 4 units of 2x2 inches and 2 units of 1.5x1.5 inches.

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.

AUVON - Dual channel TENS unit with 20 modes and 8 electrode pads of different sizes
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 20 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 10 hours)
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 4.12" x 2.24" x 0.43" - 1.54 lbs
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Includes user manual
  • Portable and small size
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Not for muscle hypertrophy
  • No heat therapy
  • No touch screen included
The AUVON electro stimulator is at the forefront of electro stimulation technology, combining TENS and EMS stimulation technologies to obtain one of the most complete treatments for acute and chronic pain, caused by injuries or illnesses, as well as an incredible complement for physical conditioning thanks to its muscle stimulation technology.

It has 20 modes of use that apply different types of massages oriented to treat a wide variety of ailments, and with its independent channel control mode you will have the possibility of configuring different programs for each of the channels individually, to apply different types of massages in various areas of the body.

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.

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.

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.

iReliev - Compact & rechargeable wireless mini TENS for specified for pain relief
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: Unspecified
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 2 Pads
  • Display: No Display
  • Size: 1.42" x 3.27" x 6.22" - 0.10 lbs
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes user manual
  • Portable and small size
  • Wireless electrodes
  • Rechargeable battery
  • No battery life specified
  • No intensity levels specified
  • No display included
The correct word to describe the effect of this compact electrostimulator from iReliev is "precision". It is a wireless device designed for the treatment of localised pain points. Due to its size and the fact that it does not require any wires to operate, it is completely discreet and can be used anywhere, while travelling and under clothing.

Its efficient use of TENS technology allows it to block pain signals before they reach the brain, making it a safe method of treating ailments. It also has a long-lasting lithium battery and an energy-efficient function, which switches the device off every 20 minutes. One of the best devices on the market in terms of portability, discretion and functionality.

Laspi - 4-channel TENS/EMS muscle stimulator with 20 modes and 8 electrode pads
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 20 Programs
  • Intensity: 40 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 12 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Includes 40 intensity levels
  • Portable device
  • 12 pads with different sizes
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Features 20 modes
  • Somewhat slow charging
  • No size specified
The Laspi brand of products has an electrostimulation machine designed to maximize the results of your workouts through a complete massage therapy provided by TENS and EMS technologies, which will allow you to combat acute and chronic ailments, as well as increase the results of your exercises by stimulating muscle growth.

It has a function of 4 individual channels that will allow you to apply different massage programs in various areas of the body, in addition to 3 programs that together give you more than 20 options between TENS, EMS and recovery massages, 40 levels of intensity and time control function that will allow you to define the duration of each session.

TechCare Massager - 2-output pulse muscle stimulator device with protective sleeve & 6 electrodes pads
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 2
  • Modes/Programs: 24 Modes
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 20 hours)
  • Electrodes: 6 electrodes
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • Includes user manual
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Long battery life (up to 20 hours)
  • Portable and small size
  • Good quality
  • Few intensity levels
  • Does not specify size and weight
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
The TechCare massager is a dual-channel electrostimulation device with a rechargeable battery and a large number of functions dedicated to the application of TENS and EMS massages. It features an LCD display and various modes of use, along with a session timer, and an on-screen indicator of remaining battery time.

It has multiple modes of use and its A-B output channel allows you to apply two types of massage simultaneously, making it one of the most versatile devices available on the market. The package includes 1 control, 1 protective case for the TENS unit, 3 pairs of electrodes, 4 power output cables, 1 USB cable, 1 user manual, 1 plastic case and 1 belt clip.

Compex Sport Elite 3.0 - Muscle Stimulator with TENS & 10 programs for improve muscle performance
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes/Programs: 10 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (8 hours)
  • Electrodes: Not specified
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Long battery life (up to 8 hours)
  • Does not specify intensity levels
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • No heat therapy
The Compex Sport Elite 3.0 is the next step in the fitness branch of the Compex line of units. It is a completely redesigned and upgraded version of the SP series electro stimulators, built with water resistance, an improved LCD display, a central navigation button and many other new features.

It has a total of 10 programs, which are divided into 2 warm-up programs, 2 strength enhancement programs, 3 recovery enhancement programs, and 2 TENS massage programs to reduce pain. With the Elite 3.0 you can take your workouts to the next level by being able to use it at any stage of your workout, before, during or after.

Video: How to place electrodes pads on the jaw pain?

Electrodes for face

Electrodes for face
Electrodes for face

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

What types of jaw pains are there and what are the causes?

Ailments in the jaw are among the most painful that you can suffer, because regardless of whether it is not caused by a serious injury, the jaw is widely innervated, so any ailment has a profound impact at the nervous level.

The most common reasons for jaw pain are as follows:

Bruxism

This is a movement disorder characterized by the involuntary action of clenching or grinding the teeth. Bruxism has various levels of intensity and can occur unconsciously during the day (daytime bruxism) or while sleeping (nighttime bruxism).

Bruxism can have serious consequences for the teeth, as it can fracture, flatten or loosen them, severely wear down tooth enamel to the point of exposing the inner layers of the teeth, and cause stiffness, fatigue, swelling and pain in the jaw muscles.

The causes of bruxism are believed to be an accumulation of psychological, genetic and physical factors, and may differ between daytime and nighttime bruxism. Daytime bruxism can be caused by the following factors:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Developed habitus
  • Frustration and impotence

On the other hand, nocturnal bruxism may be due to involuntary chewing activity associated with waking up during sleep, in addition to other psychological factors.

Jaw pain

Jaw pain is an ailment of varying intensity that, while it can be worrisome, usually does not represent a serious problem as long as it is treated early and seriously enough.

Jaw pains usually occur on one or both sides, and are generally related to oral problems such as:

  • Dental abscesses
  • Tooth decay
  • Wisdom teeth growth
  • Bruxism

In other cases, jaw pain may be related to other types of disorders, among which we can highlight

  • Osteomyelitis
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Cysts or tumors

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders)

It is a disorder that affects the jaw joints that connect the lower jaw bone to the skull. It is characterized by an elevated sensitivity of the temporomandibular joint area, accompanied by inflammation, the sensation of a locked jaw and pain that can extend from the neck to the ears.

Among the most common causes of TMJ disorder we can highlight the following:

  • Bruxism
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Acute trauma
  • Incorrect bite

Differences between TENS and EMS Which is better for treating jaw pain?

The use of electrotyping for the treatment of jaw pain is widespread, to the point of becoming one of the most popular options for treating the symptoms of a variety of disorders.

However, it is necessary to make certain distinctions in the type of electrotherapy appropriate for the treatment of these ailments, as there are marked differences between electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

TENS therapy can be defined as a physiotherapeutic technique focused on the treatment of pain caused by injury, trauma or disease, and is defined by the following characteristics.

  • Uses low voltage currents (between 1 and 250 Hz)
  • It blocks the nerve endings located in the branches of the maxillary nerve and the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve, inhibiting the sensation of pain
  • Its electrical impulses affect sensitivity at the nerve level.
  • Treats pain caused by trauma and disorders, but does not treat the source of the pain.

Muscle electrostimulation, or EMS, is a physical training method used mainly for aesthetic and sports purposes, and is identified by the following characteristics:

  • It applies medium/high intensity frequencies ranging from 70 to 150 Hz.
  • Interacts with muscle tissue, causing contractions that increase muscle strength, endurance and elasticity.
  • EMS impulses have an influence at the muscular level, but their effect at the nervous level is very low.
  • Set at the correct frequency, it can be beneficial for muscle rehabilitation following injuries.

With this information, we can say that the most effective therapy for the treatment of jaw ailments is TENS therapy, since its effect is focused on blocking the nerve impulses that generate the sensation of pain, located in the ramifications of the upper jaw, and in the maxillary region of the trigeminal nerve, mitigating the sensation of pain in the patient.

On the other hand, EMS therapy is contraindicated for the treatment of pain, since the intensity of its electrical impulses causes contractions of the temporalis, masseter, lateral pterygoid and medial pterygoid muscles, which can cause involuntary stimulation of the nerves and increase the sensation of pain in the patient.

Is it recommended to use EMS machines to improve bruxism?

While EMS devices can be very useful for muscle recovery and conditioning in many cases, bruxism and other jaw pain is one of which is completely contraindicated.

This is because muscle electrostimulation is not intended for the treatment of ailments, since it does not interact directly with the nerves, but rather generates muscle contractions of varying intensity, which can stimulate the maxillary and trigeminal nerves, and increase the sensation of pain if applied to a patient suffering from bruxism.

Contraindications to 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 on each one, while if we use four, the equivalence should be two positive and two negative.
  • Do not cross the electrodes: you cannot use one electrode 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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