The 5 Best Wireless TENS Units for Back Pain (2021 Reviews)
TENS units are one of the most popular drug-free, non-invasive, and non-addictive ways to continuously relieve back pain on the go.
With so many portable TENS units available (and so many technical terms) – which one should you choose?
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👉 In a Hurry? see our comparison table below, followed by our detailed wireless TENS machines reviews:
|Bottom Line||Intensity Levels/Programs||Price|
|iReliev TENS & EMS||🥇Top Pick|
Largest treatment area
👉Jump to Review
|Save 10% with coupon code meital10 |
on the official site!
TENS & EMS
|Best Professional Grade|
Up to 4 Pods
|Save 10% with coupon code meital10 |
on the official site!
|Accurelief||Best Budget||20 settings|
|$34 at Carex|
|Icy Hot||Best Small||63 settings|
|$39 at FSA Store|
|WiTouch Pro||Best for Beginners||5 settings|
|Check Price on Amazon|
To make your life easier and reduce your research to a minimum, we’re created this easy guide to help you make the right choice, no matter if you’re looking for your first Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit, or wanting to upgrade your current one.
- 1 The Top 5 Wireless TENS Units (for Back Pain)
- 2 What is the Smallest TENS Unit? (Good for Travel)
- 3 How Does a TENS Unit Relieve Back Pain?
- 4 How to Use a TENS Unit for Back Pain Relief
- 5 Is a Wireless TENS Machine Safe?
The Top 5 Wireless TENS Units (for Back Pain)
Through our research, below are the 5 best portable, wireless TENS therapy units for back pain. See their pros & cons below the comparison table.
1. iReliev Wireless TENS & EMS Machine Best Value
The iRelieve TENS & EMS unit has 2 wireless hubs, a handheld remote with a backlit screen, and a good set of sticky pads. With a maximum output of 0.2 watts, this device also offers 16 programs, 25 intensity levels, and timer options – that make it our top pick for 2021.
The EMS programs are for exercise preparation, post-exercise recovery, building endurance, and strengthen your muscles.
- Intensity settings -25
- Programs – 16
- Max output – 0.2 watts
- Handheld remote – yes, with a backlit screen
- Included Pads – 4
The iReliev is the most versatile wireless TENS machine on this list and highly recommended.
- 2-4 pads cover larger than average treatment areas
- The pods connect very easily and the communication between the devices is flawless
- Has EMS for muscle recovery and preparing for exercise
- Versatile programs for pain relief and muscle strengthening
- You can try different programs on all of the channels – simultaneously
- Session length can be set for 5-60 minutes – depending on the program you choose
- Pads are reusable
- Easy to use digital controller
✅Price – Check today’s price on the official site (don’t forget our exclusive coupon code – meital10)
- More expensive than other models (because of added features)
2. PlayMakar PRO Electrical Muscle Stimulator Best Professional
The PlayMakar TENS & EMS unit is completely wireless and comes with 14 programs you can use for both pain relief/recovery and muscle strength and endurance. The receiver units are small enough to hide under your clothes (2.35″ in diameter and .55″ in height) and you can use any number of pods you’d like with this system.
You can use each pod (up to 4 pods!) for 3-5 hours, and the hand controller can be used for 5-10 hours, which makes this one a professional-grade TENS unit.
👉Programs 1-4 are best for sore muscles pain relief and feel like a comfortable pulsing sensation.
Program 8 is best for arthritis pain relief and feels like a comfortable tingling and pulsing coming in waves.
You can adjust the TENS intensity for each pod separately with 25 levels of intensity.
This is one of the best mini wireless TENS & EMS units you’ll find in 2021, and we highly recommend it.
✅ PlayMakar TENS & EMS unit Price – use our coupon code meital10 to get 10% off – on the official site.
- Highly versatile with 14 TENS & EMS programs and 25 intensity levels
- Concealable under your clothes
- You can use as many pods as you’d like
- Can be used for 3-5 hours per charge
- Comprehensive and clear instruction manual
- Pods are reusable
- 2-year warranty, free shipping, and 30-day return on the official site
- More expensive than other wireless units
3. AccuRelief Wireless TENS System Budget Pick
The AccuRelief small (2.4 x 2.1 x 0.7 inches), portable and wireless TENS unit has two electrode controllers, which allows you to treat your back pain in more than just one area. Plus, you can change the intensity of each electrode separately by using the digital remote or pressing the buttons on the pads directly.
All you have to do is power up and connect it, place the electrodes on your skin, and operate it easily with the remote control.
- Waveform: Bi-phase square pulse wave
- Frequency: 5~125Hz
- Pulse width: 130/250 μS
- Output voltage: 0~70mA
- Programmed with 3 phases of alternate therapy
- Comes with 2 reusable electrode gel pads with snap connectors
- Comes with 6 AAA batteries
- 20 levels of intensity to choose from
- Lightweight (1.6 ounces) and flexible
- Comes with a drawstring carry bag
- Easy to use – comes with an electrode placement guide and a clear quick-start guide
- Lightweight and small – half an inch thick and smaller than a credit card
- You won’t need replacement pads
✅ Price – Check today’s price on Carex Health Brands
- 30-minute shutoff – you’ll need to re-start again if you’d like to continue treatment
- You’ll have to change the batteries every 2-3 weeks, depending on usage
4. Icy Hot Portable TENS Unit Best Small
The Icy Hot TENS FDA-approved unit is a prescription-strength single-pad electrotherapy unit, with 63 intensity levels. The single pad that comes with it lasts for 12-30 uses. The pad contains two electrodes.
You simply snap the electrical unit onto the electrode pad, peel the pad and place it on your painful area. Then, you press the on/off button.
- Size – 6.6 x 2.4 x 6.4 inches
- Weight – 4.8 ounces.
- Channels – single channel, 1 mode/program
Icy Hot unit Pros
- Powerful, high-intensity level option.
- 63 intensity levels
- Simple and easy to use
- It comes with a pre-installed simple 3-volt watch battery.
- Comes with a silver zip-lock style storage bag
- Fits the hip area well
- The pad lasts for a limited time, replacement is needed. (You can order replacement pads on Amazon here).
- Auto shut off after 30 minutes. If you want to continue treatment, you’ll have to wait 5-10 minutes for the battery to recharge.
- It doesn’t come with a remote, a bit difficult to adjust intensity when placed on your back, but the + and – buttons are raised you can find them when you feel your way around.
5. Hollywog WiTouch Wireless TENS Unit Best for Beginners
The WiTouch portable TENS machine covers a relatively large treatment area and comes with a wireless hand-held remote control and 10 reusable replacement pads.
The energy-saving battery in this low back pain TENS unit will last at least 40 30-minute treatment sessions.
It has 5 intensity levels (you’ll probably stop at level 2…)
Size: 9 x 5.5 x 1.8 inches
Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Channels: Single channel
- Waveform: Asymmetric biphasic square pulse.
- Pulse Amplitude: 0 ~110 mA = 0 ~ 55 volts, adjustable (at 500 ohm load)
- Pulse Frequency: (Hz) 5-120
- Pulse Width: (μs) 120 – 240
- Automatically starts at a low-intensity level when turned on
- The pads that this unit uses are very strong, and the device stays on for hours, if not all day
- Larger treatment area than the other 2 TENS on this page
- Made in the USA
- Signals when you need to better place the UNIT with a yellow light turning on in the remote
- Comfortable for all situations – sitting, moving around, etc.
- Pads are reusable and can be used at least times each one
- Uses a long-lasting flat type battery #2032 (lasts for about 40 treatments)
✅ Price – Check today’s price on Amazon
- Auto shut off after 30 minutes (but can be re-started without waiting)
- You’ll have to change the pad when they lose their “stickiness”.
- Price is relatively higher (but the pads last longer and so does the battery, so everything evens out in long-term use)
What is the Smallest TENS Unit? (Good for Travel)
If the above TENS units are not small enough for you, I’ve found the smallest TENS device – so small you may forget you ever turned them on.
AccuRelief Mini TENS Electrotherapy Pain Relief System
Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 0.4 inches; 0.3 ounces
✅See more details, reviews, and ratings on Amazon.
How Does a TENS Unit Relieve Back Pain?
A TENS unit (electric stimulation unit) delivers low-voltage, non-painful electrical pulses via electrodes placed directly onto the skin around the area of pain. These pulses control pain signals in the body, creating temporary (from 5 minutes to 18 hours) relief from pain.
They can control abnormally excited nerves and release endorphins – natural pain-relieving hormones.
👉 Low-frequency TENS may take longer to relieve pain, but the relief will last longer than using high-frequency TENS machines.
The frequency of the currents coming from a TENS unit can be turned up or down, ranging from about 10 Hz to 50 Hz. Most TENS sessions last from 15 to 30 minutes and can be administered as often as needed.
How to Use a TENS Unit for Back Pain Relief
Generally, you should apply the TENS unit directly to the pain area. See the short video below for instructions:
👉 A TENS unit is one of the best back pain gifts for people you care about.
How Long Does the Pain Relief Last?
Pain relief from a TENS unit duration can be different for each person. Some people report that their pain returns as soon as they switch off the device. Others continue to feel pain-free for up to 24 hours.
A 2012 study suggests that the duration of pain relief increases after repeated TENS treatments. However, this can also increase the chances of a person building up a tolerance to the treatment.
We recommend combining TENS therapy with heat therapy for a complete back pain relief natural treatment. See the best portable heating pads you can wear and use on the go!
What is EMS?
EMS stands for “Electrical Muscle Stimulation”. This electrical stimulation gently contracts the muscles and helps warm them and activating them to increase strength and endurance and promote recovery – without you having to move at all.
Once the electrode pads are applied onto your skin, the electrical impulses activate your motor nerves to send signals that cause your muscles to contract. This is the same natural process you feel when you work out your muscles.
Is a Wireless TENS Machine Safe?
Wireless TENS machines are available without a prescription and are generally safe to use if the device is not faulty. Consumer TENS units are too weak to be dangerous and the risk of a mild shock is extremely low.
There are a few things you should know before you start electrotherapy:
- Overdoing it can cause some skin irritation around the electrodes.
- Pregnant women and people with heart conditions should avoid using it.
- People with infusion pumps, pacemakers, defibrillators, or similar devices should not use a TENS unit for back pain.
- People with implanted medical devices containing metal should also avoid TENS therapy.
TENS has been a therapeutic alternative pain management staple in physical therapy and chronic pain clinics for dozens of years and has a huge following of believers.
We’ve researched and found the 5 best wireless, portable, small TENS units in the market, all of them are reasonably priced and of high quality, and our top pick is the iRelieve TENS & EMS machine.
What’s your experience with home electrotherapy? Share with us in the comments below.
To your health and happiness,
The Back-Pain-Relief-Products team
Vance, C. G., Dailey, D. L., Rakel, B. A., & Sluka, K. A. (2014). Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence. Pain management, 4(3), 197–209. doi:10.2217/pmt.14.13
DeSantana, J. M., Walsh, D. M., Vance, C., Rakel, B. A., & Sluka, K. A. (2008). Effectiveness of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for treatment of hyperalgesia and pain. Current rheumatology reports, 10(6), 492–499. doi:10.1007/s11926-008-0080-z