TENS Machines (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators) and EMS machines (Electronic Muscle Stimulators) are technically the same, they are both Electrotherapy devices - so there's no wonder we're all confused! But there is a difference… this being the nerves in your body which are stimulated during treatment and the effect this has on your body; TENS Machines are designed to stimulate sensory nerve endings resulting in pain relief. EMS Machines are designed to stimulate muscle motor nerves resulting in muscle rehabilitation and growth.
What is Electrotherapy?
Electrotherapy works by generating electrical impulses that stimulate nerves through the skin causing muscles controlled by those nerves to react by contracting. These impulses are delivered via skin electrodes, placed directly onto the required are for targeted treatment. The frequency of these impulses determines which nerves are stimulated then identifying the treatment as TENS or EMS.
TENS Machines for Pain Relief
TENS machines provide an efficient, drug-free way to ease pain. They are designed to work in two ways dependant on the severity of the pain and discomfort you are in; You can use a TENS machine on a low frequency to treat less intense pain. This works by encouraging the production of the endorphin hormone which is your body's natural pain killer. These low frequency treatments are ideal for light pain management - chronic neck pain, back pain and even period pain.
You can then use a TENS machine on a high frequency to ease more severe pain. This works by stimulating your sensory nerve endings which, as the name suggests, are responsible for how something feels to you - rough, smooth or painful. This stimulation blocks the pain signals from these nerves to the brain so your sensation of pain is significantly reduced. These high frequency treatments are often used for sports injuries and in labour TENS machines>.
EMS for Machines for Muscles Rehabilitation and Growth
EMS machines provide an efficient way of preventing or reducing muscle atrophy - the weakening and loss of muscle tone.
By transmission of electronic pulses delivered to stimulate the muscle motor nerves, a contraction and relaxation cycle is created, causing the muscle to move in passive exercise. This contraction and relaxation cycle loosens muscle fibres, increases blood flow and stimulates muscle growth.
EMS is widely used in hospitals and sports clinics for the treatment of muscular injuries and for the re-education of paralyzed muscles, to prevent atrophy in affected muscles and improving muscle tone and blood circulation to aid recovery.
EMS machine do have a certain amount of pain-relieving qualities too but these are very specific to muscle pain such as sore, tight and spastic muscles.
So what about a TENS & EMS Machine?
You've got it! It's got all the qualities of both Electrotherapy devices. Your unit will have built in programmes; some of its programmes will be designed to provide pain relief and some for muscle rehabilitation and growth.
TENS & EMS machines are great for avid sport-goers who perhaps have a long-term injury they manage and some labour TENS machines offer EMS also for muscle recovery after the birth so you can get that tum back in shape!