The 6 Best Wireless TENS Units for Back Pain
A wireless TENS unit is one of the most popular drug-free, non-invasive and non-addictive ways to continuously relieve back pain on the go.
A portable TENS machine comes with a handheld remote control – without attaching any wires to the electrodes, and without any wires hanging out of your pocket.
With so many TENS units available (and so many technical terms) – which one should you choose?
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 want to upgrade your current one.
👉 In a Hurry?
See our top 3 picks below, followed by our detailed wireless TENS machines reviews:
|Wireless TENS Unit||Bottom Line||Intensity Levels/Programs||Price|
|iReliev TENS & EMS||🥇Top Pick|
Largest treatment area
|✅ $170 with code meital10 at iReliev |
+ Free wired unit!
|PlayMakar TENS & EMS||Best Professional Grade||25 intensities|
|✅ $180 with code meital10 at Playmakar|
|Easy Home Wireless TENS Unit||100% Portable|
No wires, no remote
|✅ Check Price on Amazon|
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you.
- How Does a TENS Unit Help with Back Pain?
- Wireless TENS Machines Pros & Cons
- The Top 6 Wireless TENS Units
- 1. iReliev Wireless TENS & EMS Machine Best Value
- 2. PlayMakar PRO Electrical Muscle Stimulator Best Professional
- 3. AccuRelief Wireless TENS Unit Budget Pick
- 4. Icy Hot Portable TENS Unit Best for Sciatica
- 5. Hollywog Wireless TENS Unit Best for Beginners
- 6. Easy Home Wireless TENS & EMS Machine – 100% Portable
- What is the Smallest TENS Unit? (for Minor Relief on the Go)
- How to Use a TENS Unit for Back Pain & Sciatica
- Is a Wireless TENS Machine Safe?
How Does a TENS Unit Help with 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.
Wireless TENS Machines Pros & Cons
TENS units with no wires and cords are simpler to use (and those with remote control are easiest to use and adjust), they are completely discrete (you can wear them under your clothes), and they are lightweight and highly portable. You can use them anywhere without worrying about a power outlet. Cons include fewer programs, less power (some devices), and having to purchase the manufacturer’s own replacement pads. Plus, the battery can run out at an inconvenient time, so it’s important to make sure the device has a long battery life.
The Top 6 Wireless TENS Units
Through our research, below are the 6 best wireless TENS therapy units for back pain and sciatica. See our top pick for 2023 below:
1. iReliev Wireless TENS & EMS Machine Best Value
- Intensity settings -25
- Programs – 16 (8 TENSE + 6 EMS)
- Max output – 0.2 watts
- Handheld remote – yes, with a backlit screen
- Included Pads – 4
The iReliev 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 still our top pick for 2023.
The iReliev is the most versatile wireless TENS machine on this list and has a string battery that lasts for 3-5 hours of continuous use per full charge.
The EMS programs are for exercise preparation, post-exercise recovery, building endurance, and strengthening your muscles.
What is EMS?
EMS stands for “Electrical Muscle Stimulation”. This electrical stimulation gently contracts the muscles and helps warm them and activate them to increase strength and endurance and promote recovery – without you having to move at all.
Once the electrode pads are applied to 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.
- FDA cleared
- 2-4 pads cover larger-than-average treatment areas
- Battery for treatment lasts for 3-5 hours of treatment
- 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
- More expensive than other models (because of added features)
✅ Available at iReliev ($170 with code meital10 + a free wired TENS unit!) with a 2-year warranty.
2. PlayMakar PRO Electrical Muscle Stimulator Best Professional
The Playmakar TENS & EMS unit is completely wireless and offers 14 programs for 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 8-10 hours. In our experience, 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 your pods independently for up to 4 channels but can you can use as many pods per channel as you would like.
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 2023, and we highly recommend it.
PlayMakar Pros (according to consumers)
- FDA cleared
- 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
✅ Available at PlayMakar ($180 with coupon code meital10)
Get Your Free PDF 🎁The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain Relief – at Home!
3. AccuRelief Wireless TENS Unit Budget Pick
- Waveform: Bi-phase square pulse wave
- Frequency: 5~125Hz
- Pulse width: 130/250 μS
- Output voltage: 0~70mA
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.
AccuRelief Pros (according to consumers)
- 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
- 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
✅ Available on Amazon
4. Icy Hot Portable TENS Unit Best for Sciatica
- Size – 6.6 x 2.4 x 6.4 inches
- Weight – 4.8 ounces.
- Channels – single channel, 1 mode/program
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.
The size and functions of this unit make it one of the best wireless TENS units for Sciatica.
Icy Hot unit Pros (according to consumers)
- 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.
✅ Available on Amazon
5. Hollywog Wireless TENS Unit Best for Beginners
- 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
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…)
Hollywog WiTouch TENS unit Pros
- 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)
- 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”.
- The price is relatively higher (but the pads last longer and so does the battery, so everything evens out in long-term use)
✅ Available on Amazon
6. Easy Home Wireless TENS & EMS Machine – 100% Portable
The Easy Home small wireless TENS unit has no wires or even a remote control and is designed to be 100% portable and discrete under clothing.
All you have to do is turn on the on/off button and adjust the intensity by pressing +/-. But, this simple operation does not mean that this device is less effective or versatile:
You can choose from 6 automated massage programs and 20 power intensities – for the exact right level of treatment you need.
The rechargeable battery (that comes with a USB cable) charges quickly and lasts for 10 hours of treatment.
👉 And, it has an acupuncture setting that actually feels like needles! according to consumer reviews, this feature is wonderful.
Home Easy Pros
- Effective and strong – most people only need to reach level 2 of intensity to make the muscles contract and release
- Stays on under the clothes
- Charged battery lasts 10 hours
- High ratings on Amazon
- Unique acupuncture setting
- Is not a good fit for people who want to exercise with the unit as it may lose stick abilities
- You have to turn it on and place it, and only then you can adjust the intensity, so you may need some help.
✅ Available on Amazon ($29)
What is the Smallest TENS Unit? (for Minor Relief on the Go)
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 Unit
The AccuRelief mini TENS unit (which weighs only 0.3 ounces!) is pre-programmed with 2 phases of alternating therapy and has 15 levels of intensity that you can change with a press of a button. It is highly discrete and you can wear it under your clothing. You’ll be surprised how well it works for a minor relief on the go.
Size – 6.6 x 1.3 x 0.4 inches
✅ Available on Amazon. ($9.99)
How to Use a TENS Unit for Back Pain & Sciatica
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 Pain Relief from a TENS Unit Last?
Pain relief duration from a TENS unit 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!
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. However, 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.
How Often Can You Use a TENS Unit in One Day?
Beginners can start with one or two 15-minute treatments of a TENS machine per day, and it is recommended to rate the pain reduction after each treatment. However, studies have shown that repeated application of TENS at the same frequency, intensity, and duration daily can reduce effectiveness over time.
We recommend changing treatment time and intensity and altering with EMS modes to prevent your body from becoming used to the treatment and thus less responsive to it.
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 iReliev TENS & EMS machine.
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