How Much Does A TENS Machine Cost?
Why Is This Important?
A good quality TENS machine can ease a range of pains by discharging calculated electrical pulses to your nerve endings, blocking the messages to your brain (where they are turned into actual pain).
It is not a decision that should be made purely on cost – but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what to look for, a really good TENS machine can be picked up at a very reasonable price. I compared 116 different TENS machines at 90 retailers with the intention of answering how much does a TENS machine cost?
Everyone Has A Budget... Even When It Comes To Health
I looked in length at whether TENS machines really work (LINK – Do TENS Units Really Work?) in a previous article and concluded that they most certainly did.
We had to forgive many of the trials that suffered with small numbers of people as bemoaned in the Cochrane Reviews, but overall there is still significant evidence behind their use.
Vance et al then provided a further very useful summary of their effectiveness adding that varying the frequency on your device could avoid any tolerance being built up.
However, it would be naïve to ignore the fact that money is scare for everyone nowadays and making sure you get value as well as great pain relief is an important factor. It is extremely sad that finances come into healthcare at all, but it is sadly a fact of life.
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How Much Does A TENS Machine Cost – The Testing Stage…
To give you a better idea of the potential costs involved, I visited a huge number of online suppliers (90 in total) and added the prices of 116 different TENS machines including the following brands –
- Back Care
- Natures Gate
And a large number of others, including various ‘own brand’ options
Dealing With Difference…
Obviously, there is a huge range of different machines available.
My research focused on single channel (max 2 pads) and dual channel (4 pads) TENS machines, as well as the very popular combined TENS/ EMS units – also in single vs dual channel.
I did look at splitting according to channels/ intensity levels/ battery life and other features, but this just over-complicated the average prices.
I held this data instead for selecting the best machines based on in-depth technical performance – a review of which is available in the article ‘which is the best TENS machine to buy’.
Including all the features would only complicate the price analysis and is not a reliable indicator of pain-relieving quality anyway.
With anything from 1 to 99 levels of intensity and up to 300 different modes on just one machine, some units seemed more about standing out from the crowd than actually treating pain.
Having 300 modes for example, does not mean the machine is better. Actually, beyond a certain point, extra modes just make the machine much more complicated to use and testing the efficacy of each level becomes a task that very few people will make it to the end of.
How Much Does A TENS Machine Cost – The Results…
In the end, the results were as follows –
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There was a large variation in prices with a 4 electrode, TENS + EMS ranging from £26.99 (‘[email protected]’) to £629.99 (Keenstone), both available from a number of outlets.
By far the most popular variant to produce was a 4 electrode machine, with the number of TENS/ EMS machines with 4 electrodes being more prevalent than the 4 electrode (dual channel) unit with no EMS.
This reflects consumer choice as a TENS/ EMS unit, while being typically around 35% more expensive, offers better options for pain relief targeting both muscular tension as well as block signals from your nerves.
I intend to update this data every 18 months or so, as it helps when I make recommendations to patients, based on the best value.
What Does This Mean For You?
It should give you an idea of loosely what to expect to pay for a basic TENS and/or TENS/EMS unit. I tend to recommend IReliev as an outstanding supplier of these units.
I particularly like the data available from Ireliev on the pulse rate of each mode, because as a pain researcher I can test this against the levels of pain experienced by different sufferers and find the optimium level.
From your perspective, understanding the differences between each mode can help you soon establish the best levels for your individual needs. They are generally more expensive than the average unit, but offer a massive leap in technology for your investment.
The Final Word –
If you have back pain, knee pain or even wrist pain, you could do a lot worse than using a TENS/ EMS machine. However, these machines are not something to cut corners on. They are pieces of dedicated medical equipment and selecting one requires deep consideration.
Unfortunately, cost is also a factor in healthcare. We all wish it wasn’t, but it is. Luckily, the best TENS machines aren’t always the most expensive and for just a little more than the average price, you can get a really good selection from Ireliev that covers all of your desired options (wireless vs normal and TENS vs TENS & EMS).
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References Used –
1. William Gibson, Benedict M Wand, Catherine Meads, Mark J Catley, and Neil E O’Connell. (2019). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic pain ‐ an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database.
2. Carol GT Vance, Dana L Dailey , Barbara A Rakel & Kathleen A Sluka. (2014). Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence. Pain Management.
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