Sciatica can be a nuisance. It affects the patients’ life and prevents them from doing the things they enjoy.
While analgesics can be effective, ingesting too many of them can be bad for the body. That’s why TENS units have gained wide popularity in recent years.
Whether you’re upgrading or using it for the first time, this article will help you choose the right unit. Let’s see what I recommend as the 5 best TENS units for sciatica.
- My Recommended TENS Units for Sciatica
- What You Should Know About TENS Units
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Verdict
My Recommended TENS Units for Sciatica
In this section, you’re going to know what each unit is perfect for. Also, we’ll take a close look at the features, benefits, and shortcomings of each one.
1. Nursal Dual Channel TENS Unit – My Top Pick
Since sciatica is more common in older patients, I’d recommend using a device that has a simple yet effective interface. This unit from Nursal is such a perfect example.
Why? Because it stirs away from the traditional button controls. The user can fully interact with the unit through a large LCD touch screen.
All you have to do is press on the body part you want, enter the mode, set the intensity, and enjoy a prompt relief.
To make it easier to carry around, Nursal equipped it with a back clip that can be hanged to your belt, pocket, or purse. However, I wish it came with a standalone carrying case like other TENS units.
This unit’s battery is another great selling point. It provides up to 24 hours of continuous use. Therefore, you can easily use it while traveling, working, you name it.
Considering extras, it comes with 8 pairs of small, medium, and large pads. This way, you won’t need to purchase replacement pads for a long time.
You can precisely set the intensity through 20 small increments to suit your sciatic pain. You’ll also have 18 preset modes that are programmed according to the specialists’ recommendations. Make sure you also check our guide to the best foot massagers for plantar fasciitis.
- Large LCD touch screen
- Easy to use
- Large battery capacity
- Equipped with a back clip
- Comes with 8 pairs of high-quality pads
- Doesn’t come with a carrying case
2. Auvon Dual Channel TENS Unit – Runner-up
With 20 preset modes and a wide intensity range, this is another great TENS unit that’ll relieve your sciatic pain.
The major selling point for me is its two fully isolated channels. This will enable you to apply different modes and intensities in two separate areas simultaneously.
For example, you may find that your sciatic hip pain relieves with acupuncture mode at level 12. However, the sciatic leg pain may require tapping mode at level 5. With this unit, you can save your time and treat both in one run.
To match different parts of your body, this unit comes with 4 pairs of pads. Auvon recommends using the small size for compact areas like your knees, and the large size for open areas like your back.
The pads retain excellent self-adhesion for up to 45 uses. Afterward, you might need to purchase replacement pads to receive a proper TENS experience.
For convenience, this unit features a large LCD screen and compact, easy-to-use buttons. Moreover, Auvon ships a small nylon pouch to store the unit when not in use.
The battery supplies 10 hours of continuous usage and can be charged via a USB port.
- Features 20 modes
- The two channels can be run separately
- Comes with 4 pairs of pads
- Has a large LCD
- Runs for up to 10 hours continuously
- Some users reported shipment of non-functional units
3. PowerDot 2.0 Duo Red Smart TENS Device – Best Portable
With this TENS unit from PowerDot, you can forget about that bulky controller and use your phone instead!
This product comes as 2 pods that each connect to 2 electrode pads with magnetic lead cables. The pods are controlled by a smart mobile app via Bluetooth.
What I like the most about this unit is its AI technology. Normal TENS units don’t provide more than predetermined programs that deliver the same intensity.
But this unit processes your information, like the type and intensity of pain, to deliver a tailored experience that perfectly suits you.
Additionally, as it records your pain and treatment data, you’ll be able to see how you’re doing overtime.
Inside the app, you’ll find educational content that tells you about the causes and possible treatment of your sciatica. And just like any app, you’ll receive regular updates that enhance the process and maybe add other features.
Moreover, this unit comes with a durable plastic case to be able to carry it around. Like other units, it features additional EMS programs to massage your sore muscles. You may also like some of the best handheld back massagers from our list, so be sure to check them out.
- Portable design with no controller
- Interactive app with educational content
- Tailored TENS and EMS experience
- Records your data over time.
- Comes with a plastic case
- Notably expensive
- Some users reported that pods may take time to connect to the phone
4. iReliev Wireless TENS Unit – Best Value
This TENS Unit from iReliev is what I recommend if you want to benefit from every dollar you pay.
Why? For starters, it features a wireless connection. Therefore, you can conveniently wear the pods under your clothes, put the controller in your pocket, and use it anywhere. No more awkward goodbyes from family events due to the sciatic pain.
The unit comes with two pods that are put over two self-adhesive electrodes. The controller and the pods are charged separately via a USB port.
You can synchronously run the two pods just like any TENS unit. But my favorite feature is that you can also run them separately.
In other words, if your sciatic pain is reflected in multiple areas with different severity, you can apply different intensities through the two pods and run them at the same time. This way, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll feel instant relief.
Is there anything that I don’t like about it? Yes. This unit features a small backlit LCD display.
I think that iReliev should’ve allocated a bigger screen space to make things easier for people with weak vision.
Aside from this problem, the unit performs well. You can pinpoint your optimal intensity through the 25 levels it features. Moreover, you’re provided with 8 and 6 preset programs for TENS and EMS, respectively. Be sure to also check out our guide to the best foot massagers for diabetic and pick your favorite.
- Wireless connection
- 2 pods that can run separately
- 25 intensity levels
- 14 preset TENS and EMS programs
- Somewhat expensive
- Small LCD display
5. [email protected] Rechargeable TENS Unit – Best for Budget
TENS is an effective method to control sciatic pain. However, you might require another type of treatment. Hence, it’s a good idea to try with an affordable unit before opting for a durable one with more advanced options.
This unit form [email protected] features two output channels in which you can plug 4 electrode pads. Each channel can deliver up to 20 intensity levels. This allows you to precisely tune the intensity to match your preferred level.
In case you’re not sure about your suitable level, no worries. You can try the built-in 16 TENS and EMS programs. Frankly, having both features at such a low price is a valuable bargain.
Operating the unit is simple and seamless through the small buttons located in its lower portion. The major part of this unit is occupied by a large back-lit LCD screen that shows information about your current program.
The USB-rechargeable battery offers 10 hours of continuous use, which is much more than you need.
- TENS and EMS in one unit
- Affordable price
- Built-in timer
- 10-hours of battery use
- Some users complained from weak impulse intensity
- Doesn’t come with a carrying case
What You Should Know About TENS Units
In this section, we’ll discuss some essential information that I think every TENS user should know. Is it for you? What are the benefits? What should you look for in a TENS unit? Let’s find out.
Benefits of Using a TENS Unit
To understand how your body will benefit from a TENS unit, we’ll have to take a brief look at how it functions.
What’s Behind a TENS Unit?
In case you don’t already know, TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. As the name implies, this device sends electrical signals up to your nerves. But how does this help you?
You feel pain when a nerve carries a painful impulse to your brain. The impulses from a TENS unit flood the nerve. Therefore, your brain will feel the tickling of the electrical impulses instead of the painful stimulus.
Moreover, these impulses are known to stimulate endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.
Non-Invasive & Drug-Free
This is, by far, the most important benefit. Using a TENS unit is a quick and easy way to relieve your sciatic pain. No surgeries, no prescriptions, just a natural electrical method.
Easy-To-Use & Affordable
Nearly all TENS units feature an easy interface that can be used by anyone. This is especially helpful for the elderly, as they’re more prone to developing sciatica.
Moreover, anyone can afford them. They usually start at around $30.
What to look for in a TENS Unit
Choosing an effective TENS unit can be difficult with dozens of brands that all claim to be the best.
Here are some features to consider.
Most TENS units also feature EMS or electrical muscle stimulation. Through this feature, the unit causes your muscles to contract, which increases the blood flow and helps in repairing injuries.
This is especially helpful for sciatica as it’s commonly caused by muscle spasm.
Some TENS units depend on conventional AA batteries. Newer models feature built-in lithium batteries that can be conveniently charged via USB.
Opting for the latter is a no-brainer, especially that TENS units are known to consume a lot of power. Hence, you’d be wasting your money on tens of replacement batteries.
Most models offer a battery capacity of 10 hours. Considering that a typical session ranges between 20 and 40 minutes, this capacity is more than enough.
If you’re going to use it while traveling, purchasing a 24-hour battery would be a better idea.
This typically ranges between 15 and 25 levels. It’s important to note that this doesn’t correlate to how powerful the unit is. Instead, it reflects the increments by which you can increase the power.
In other words, the unit with 25 levels allows you to increase power by increments of 4%. On the other hand, 15-level units have 7% increments.
The more levels, the better. You can precisely tune the device to get the wanted relief without feeling any undue discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often can I use a TENS unit?
From a medical point of view, you can use it as often as you need to relieve your pain. However, using it for more than 60 minutes continuously may cause skin irritation under the pads.
Therefore, I recommend sticking with 20-40 minutes per session.
Can anyone use a TENS unit?
No. TENS units are safe for use in general, but there are people who can’t use it. People with pacemakers or any electrical or metal implants should avoid using it. A TENS unit may interfere with these devices, causing varying degrees of failure.
Epileptic patients shouldn’t use a TENS unit either. The electrical impulses have a high risk of inducing seizures.
Pregnant women should use the device with caution. They can use it anywhere except the pelvic and abdominal regions to avoid any possible damage to the fetus.
How long does the pain relief last?
This varies according to your condition. Some users report that it only lasts for minutes, while others say it lasts for a whole day.
Will TENS cure my sciatica?
Sadly, no. A TENS unit is merely a tool that relieves pain. Curing your sciatica varies according to its cause. Sometimes some exercises and lifestyle adjustments will do the trick. However, some cases might require surgical intervention.
I hope this article helped you reach a decision. If you want my opinion, I think that the Nursal TENS Unit is the best TENS unit for sciatica.
Thanks to the large LCD touch screen, it’ll be easy for anyone to operate. You can use it as long as you need thanks to the continuous 24 hours that the battery offers.
Moreover, it’s supplied with 8 pairs of pads, which you can alternate between to avoid early wear and tear.
Lastly, I wish you a speedy and full recovery!
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