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Differences between TENS and EMS

     Chances are that you may be familiar with TENS and EMS technology, and you think it's very common to see them in your daily life. Or, you may know they are good, noninvasive physical therapy methods. But you may not be quite clear about the exact and specific differences between them.
     This article aims to help you sharpen your knowledge of the similarities and differences between TENS and EMS and help you decide which is a good fit for you.  


Both TENS and EMS deliver low-voltage electrical current through pads applied on our skin.


Although TENS and EMS work the same way to transmit electrical current to our body, they have two key differences
1, the electrical impulse from an EMS device is stronger than that from a TENS machine;
2, TENS works on sensory fibres, and EMS works on motor fibers;

A quick introduction walks you through the differences between TENS and EMS.




Full Term

Transcutaneous (‘through the skin’) Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Electrical Muscle Stimulation

Impact on

the sensory nerve endings to block pain

motor nerves to stimulate muscles

Brief Introduction

Medical professionals have been using TENS as a pain relief solution since the 1960s. It is clinically tested and approved as a pain relief solution that has been used for over 40 years by medical professionals such as physiotherapists and chiropractors.


EMS is a widespread and generally accepted method that has been used in sports medicine and rehabilitation for years.

Intended use

reduce and relieve acute or chronic pain in the muscle or joint of the shoulder, back, arms, legs, and foot

Muscle activation and relaxation


1, block pain signals from traveling to the brain, so pain will not be perceived.

2, activate our body’s natural pain suppressing mechanism by promoting the secretion of endorphins (our body’s painkillers)

stimulate our muscles, causing our muscles to contract and relax repeatedly and involuntarily without the brain and the spinal cord involved


• Back pain, particularly in the lumbar/cervical spine area;

• Leg or arm pain;
• Sore knee or shoulder joints;

• Neuralgia;

• migraine;

• arthritis pain;



tennis elbow

• relax the muscle and improve muscular fatigue after overuse;

• speed up recovery and muscle healing from injury;

• accelerate muscle regeneration;

• build muscle tone;

• retard muscle atrophy;

• reduce muscle spasms


TENS only offers temporary relief or reduction of pain and is not a cure for pain.

EMS is a supplement to traditional exercise, not a replacement for it.

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