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Best TENS Unit for Lower Back Pain: 2019 Buyers’ Guide!

At some point in our lives, nearly all of us experience the sometimes plainly annoying, sometimes almost unbearable, lower back pain. It doesn’t really depend on age or gender, it could happen thanks to endless reasons. Either way, solutions of all sorts have been tried to solve this issue, be it at a serious medical level or just a simple muscle stiffness. One of them is TENS therapy

Why do we suffer of lower back pain?

The causes of lower back pain are numerous, and depend on many factors. Probably the most common reason for this condition comes from muscle strain. This can appear as a consequence of physical effort that is beyond the normal capacities of an individual. In other words, it happens when we lift more than our bodies can take, we carry in a manner that hurts us, but also when we make a move or choose a body posture that proves to be a little unnatural. These usually result in minor injuries, that go away in days.

More serious causes, that make the pain long term, are connected our body’s main support in moving and keeping its posture, the spine. What happens is that discs and vertebrae that are part of it get deteriorated and start to poke at the spinal cord or the nerves, causing levels of pain which can become insufferable. Also, when the natural curves of the spine are deformed, pain might become part of one’s life as well.

Other frequent situations which could bring around lower back pain are kidney problems, pregnancy, arthritis, ovarian cysts and cancer.

How to cope with lower back pain?

Treatments for lower back pain are probably of an even larger variation than its causes. Most people usually start by not doing anything about it, thinking it will go away no later than tomorrow. When it doesn’t, they go for the classical ice pack or the opposite, a warm compression, lie down with their favorite pillows and ask their partners for a massage. If it gets really bad, they might choose to take a pain killer that has helped them in the past.

Further down the road is where the doctors come in. When the pain just doesn’t want to go away, we start to think that our home treatments might not work after all. Medical staff offer their advice and that usually comes with medicine, devices, physical therapy, exercises, professional massage and, when things get too serious, even surgery.

Where does TENS come in, and can it help with back pain?

            In the 1960s, scientists came up with something they called TENS, short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. What this does is that, when attaching its pads to the skin over the painful area on your back, the device will send electric signals of low intensity to the nerves in your muscles. This is said to numb the pain by distracting the nerves and possibly stimulating them to ask the brain for more endorphins to make you better.

The advantage of this technology is the simplicity of its use and the comfort in carrying it around. TENS units are typically small, can be held in your hand or pocket, some of them even come with a hinge to hang them on your belt. In this case, we could say they can be used in almost any situation. You don’t even need medical assistance for it, as you can apply conductive gel on the electrodes yourself, attach them to your skin and then set the intensity of the electricity that will go through the wires into the pads and then into your back muscles.

After choosing my TENS device… how do I use it?

            Things will unfold fairly easy. Prepare the painful area of your lower back by making sure the skin is clean and ready for the electric pads to stick to it.

Add a thin layer of conductive gel to the electrodes and put them on your skin. This not only helps with a better electricity flow to your nerves and muscles, but also makes sure you don’t get an irritation. Stick the pads to the painful area on your lower back, then plug in the wires that attach them to the main device.

Afterwards, all you need to do is start TENS and you will feel a tingling on your back where before you felt a nagging pain. You can work on the intensity level and set it to your liking. Some of the TENS devices can even switch automatically between different levels of intensity, types of muscle massage and so on.

What NOT to do with TENS

            Of course, it is advisable that you speak to your doctor before using TENS. It is definitely not recommended if you have a pacemaker. Also, some devices are not even safe for pregnancy, especially in the first few weeks. Keep your skin and the electrodes clean, and don’t use the machine for too long, as they might give you a totally new kind of pain or soreness in the muscle. Lastly, they are not recommended during sleeping or driving. Click here if you want to read more about TENS contraindications.

Keep in mind that, for serious medical conditions, TENS might not be enough, but would only work as a side treatment for others which your doctor has prescribed. If that is not your case or you are actually looking for that add-on to your therapy, check bellow our suggestions for TENS units involved in dealing with lower back pain.

Now that you have an idea about the possible causes of lower back pain, let’s see some of the best TENS units for lower back pain. Also, before using  a TENS unit, please always check with your doctor. Because TENS isn’t a cure in itself, and lower back pain can be a symptom of a lot of underlying causes.

Best TENS units for lower back pain:

Nursal TENS UnitNursal TENS Unit for lower back pain

            Nursal’s electromagnetic device is one of the most popular TENS units out there. It offers a number of eight electronic pads which work in programs with a duration between 10 and 60 minutes to help bring you relief from your pain through massage. This unit is a great choice for different kinds of back pain, including inflamed spine discs and arthritis. A lot of patients have reported using it for sciatica and in back injuries resulting from accidents.

Product Specifications:

  • Simultaneous dual output design, 8 pcs of self adhesive conductive reusable pads , replaceable self-adhesive conductive gel pads, not necessary to use any cream and gel together,allows 6 pads to be applied to the two different targeted areas at the same time.
  • Built in timer from 10 to 60 minutes, and auto shut off.
  • 20 levels of adjustable strength
  • Built in rechargeable lithium battery– up to 10 hours of continuous use.


TENS Unit and EMS Combination Muscle Stimulator

Best TENS and EMS unit for lower back pain

            Similar to a smartphone in shape and size, this TENS and EMS unit comes with six interchangeable electrodes and 12 programs and is recommended for muscle repair and pain relief after minor injuries. This TENS units is also easy to use thanks to its large LCD display. Users have also reported a good battery life, even when using the higher intensity levels for a long period. Not only is this unit recommended for lower back pain, but it’s also great if you’re looking for a machine to relax tense muscles, of for post-operatory use.

Product specifications:

  • 2 channel / 4 electrode pads – each channel’s intensity can be controlled separately
  • easy to use – best for pain relief, relaxation, reflexology and acupressure
  • 12 programs with 20 intensity settings. 6 electrode pads included, large lcd display
  • 60 minutes adjustable timer – select the length of your treatment for best results – automatic shutoff

PurePulse Pro Advanced TENS Device

Pure Enrichment PurePulse Pro Advanced TENS Device for back pain

            PurePulse’s little machine has gained the trust of physiotherapists, giving the possibility of choosing programs that last between five minutes and one hour and having no less than 25 intensity levels. It is very easy to use as well, light and portable.  This is why a lot of people use this TENS unit to treat pain caused by muscle injuries and even postoperative pain. This TENS unit is designed to treat all types of people and muscle groups, and intensity levels can range from gentle pulsations for sensitive areas to more aggressive pulsations for larger muscle areas, which make this machine a good TENS unit for lower back pain.

Product specifications:


  • FDA Approved and 2 Year Warranty
  • Easy-to-use LCD display, with 8 preset therapy programs and adjust the timer from 5-60 minutes
  • 25 different therapeutic intensity levels



Healthmate Forever YK15AB TENS Unit

            For those of you with a larger painful zone on their lower back, this TENS unit looks like a good choice, as it can cover more of a surface with its eight electronic pads. It comes with an acupuncture chart as well, which gives you clues as to where exactly you should place them for better results.

This TENS unit is not only popular because of its affordable price, but also thanks its high power, the variety of massages it offers, and the quality of the included pads. Some patients who are suffering from serious conditions like damaged spine disk also reported great results with this unit.

Product specifications:

  • Buttons are clearly labelled with words like “Neck”, “Shoulder”,”Back”, “Elbow”, “Hip”, “Ankle”,”Knee”, “Foot/Hand”, “Wrist”,not “Pulse-Width”, or “Waveform.” The large LCD display with new featured backlight shows you at a glance exactly what you need for your targeted area, including the type of massage”Knead, Acu (Acupuncture), Tap, Cupping, Scraping (Gusha),Random” and the time left on the cycle.
  • 15 modes and 20 levels of intensity, no matter you use 1 output or 4 outputs at the same time without dividing the strength by 8 pads.
  • 9 Auto Stimulation Programs, Fully-adjustable Speed & Intensity, 6 Selectable Massage Settings, High-Frequency Pulses to Provide Pain Relief.


AccuRelief Dual Channel TENS Unit

            This small device, which offers 30-minute treatments and 25 levels of intensity, was addressed especially to back related conditions. A lot of patients use this unit on the side, along with their medical treatments and say it has done them well after various types of injuries and strains.  Despite its small size, this Dual channel TENS unit is actually very strong, and higher levels can even cause numbness to some people.

The  electrodes are not only flexible and easy to contour to almost any body part, but they also seem very durable.

Product specification:

  • 6 preset programs that correspond to a selected body part  and 6 additional programs for tailored treatment,
  • 25 levels of adjustable intensity, 30 minute treatment with auto shut-off.